How to Be A Better Date in 2011 — 5 Lessons From 2010

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A few weeks ago, one of my HowAboutWe coworkers said something that really stuck with me:

“Back in the day, people really went on dates. My grandma sometimes had two dates in one night — an early and a late. It wasn’t dating to find a husband, it was more like dating for sport.”

“Dating for sport.” When you phrase it like that, it sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? So when I read HowAboutWe’s 25 Best Dates of 2010, that’s exactly what came to mind.

And considering ’tis the season for personal reflection and New Year’s resolutions and all that jazz, I decided to take action. I ran the list through a word cloud generator* to see what lessons I could take with me into 2011 to Be A Better Date. After all, these aren’t just dates that seem like good ideas — they’re proven. By actual people.

great date ideas

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*Nerd Alert: Each date idea was weighted according to its ranking.

1) Drinking Helps


drinking date ideas

While some of us are vowing to try dating sober, the odds are against you. The standard caveat stands — don’t get wasted on a first date — but do yourself a favor and suggest a date with beverages that require an ID to drink. The numbers agree: The most responded-to dates on HowAboutWe are those that involve alcohol. So rather than set yourself up for failure, set yourself up for awesome and center the date around fun cocktails, beer and music or a classy wine/bourbon tasting. Because hey! A stiff drink is way better than a stiff personality!

2) Play Ping-Pong (Or Otherwise Get Playful)


date ideas activities

Ping-pong is part of the top two dates. Fun? Yes. Surprising? Not at all. Think about it — it’s an ideal first date.

  1. No one is really great at ping-pong, so even if you and your date can’t volley for your life, you’ll at least have a good laugh about it. And there are plenty of other conversations the sport naturally facilitates, including a) Your thoughts on Forrest Gump. b) The fact that ping-pong is trendy, but not really. c) That other movie about a ping-pong team (or something) that didn’t do very well. d) Grammar-school gym class memories (if you dare go there).
  2. It can be as long or as short as you want. You can end after the first round or, if things are going well, suavely suggest a best 2 out of 3 tournament.
  3. It’s conducive to drinking (see above) — and bonus! It’s a natural moderator, keeping your imbibing in check. After all, you can’t swat and swig at the same time.

But if ping-pong isn’t your bag, fear not! Any sort of activity makes for a good first date. Why? They provide an easy transition to touching (“Oh, you’re not sure how to swing that golf club? Let me show you.”), they keep conversation lulls to a minimum, and some playful trash-talking can be a huge turn-on.

3) Take it to a Second Location.

date ideas

Or at least a Part Two. It’s tricky. You don’t want to get too ambitious on a first date, but you do want to have a plan. “How about we go to the driving range at Chelsea Piers and grab a drink afterwards” sounds so much better than just “How about we go to the driving range at Chelsea Piers,” right? I think it’s because it’s a sign that both of you are down for more than just something quick, which is a huge ego boost. Keeping your phrasing casual (“How about we head over to …” or “How about we take a walk around…”) helps avoid sounding over-eager while also giving the feeling of a complete date.

4) Be Specific.

specific date ideas

Note all the proper nouns in the cloud. That’s because, again, everyone likes a man (or a woman) with a plan. We’ve said this before, but if you’re in the mood for Coca-Cola-braised pork carnitas tacos, say so! It’s a win-win: you satisfy your craving and all the details of the first date are worked out — all you need to decide is when. No annoying, “So, where would you like to go for dinner?” “Oh, I don’t care, whatever you want to do” conversations that happen because everyone’s trying to be too nice. And if you both share a love of said specific-thing, well, that’s a good start.

5) Show Your Personality.

I don’t even need the tag cloud for this one. Check out date #9: “How about we get manicures. I’ve never done this am morbidly curious and could use guidance.”

Even if you’re not into guys who get manicures, you know exactly what kind of guy he is.

The Bottom Line:

A date shouldn’t feel like a job interview — so take a cue from the best dates of 2010 and formulate your date as follows:

1 part alcohol + 1 part physical activity + 1 specific detail = great first date.