Recently, a guy ask me out. I was flattered but not really interested so I politely declined. But he was persistent and wore me down with good-natured humor and eventually, I accepted. Why not? It’s just one date. Then he asked what we should do, where we should meet, etc. I thought, “Dude, you asked me. I’m not going to plan your date for you.”
I’ve seen this a lot lately. Two people meet, and one person finally gets the gumption to ask the other person out on a date. The other person agrees. Huzzah! Then they both sit around and wonder what to do. Bad form! The worst things the asker of the date can do, regardless of gender, is have no plan.
The goal of any date, especially if it’s early on, is simply to get to know the other person better. That’s it. One of the reasons HowAboutWe is so awesome is that it takes one of the most basic but maddening parts of the date out of the equation: The Plan. What are we doing? How are we going to get to know each other to see if we’re compatible?
A short play:
Guy: You’re great. We should meet up!
Girl: Okay! Where and when?
Guy: Uhhh… I dunno… what do you like to do?
Girl: I don’t know.
Guy: I don’t know either.
Guy: I guess we’ll never meet to see if we have chemistry to fall madly and passionately in love and fill in the missing piece of each other’s soul and nurture a love that grows and endures through all eternity simply because I couldn’t think of a thing to do.
Related: How to Plan a Second Date
See what I mean? If only “Guy” had said, “Let’s sample some flavors of rice pudding at Rice to Riches and then see if we can find the best cannoli in Little Italy,” they might have found love. (I like my dates to be food-based, but you get the idea.)
I think part of the problem is that “the date” has come to mean “a way to impress the other person.” Shows like Millionaire Matchmaker and The Bachelor have taught us that if a date doesn’t include a helicopter ride and a hot tub, it’s not worth doing. Frankly, I’m a little tired of all the helicopter rides (helicopters are really loud and it’s hard to have a conversation) and I really just want to play checkers and eat a cannoli with someone.
Here are some guidelines for the perfect plan:
The first date should be interactive. Movies are fun but sitting in a dark room and staying quiet is not a great way to get to know someone. Make it conducive to conversation.
Think of something you have in common. You both love sushi, get sushi. You both love art, see an exhibit. Do a little legwork and see what’s happening around you.
It should be finite. No endless dates. You’re sampling the personality of the other person. If you like the other person, bless you both — have a second date. If you don’t like them, you have an out.
Take pressure off the other person by having a back up plan or two. Allergic to rice? Let’s get hot chocolate. Have post-traumatic stress disorder because of a hot chocolate experience? That’s a little weird, but let’s see what’s new at The Met. And so on.
Be easy to be around. Would you date you? Are you being super negative and nixing everything the other person wants to do? If you nix a plan, offer an alternative. Be generous in this way.
Good luck out there — we’re all in this together. Now, someone get me a cannoli.
Carrie Gravenson is a comedian and writer living in New York City. She continuously works on fine-tuning the balance between following her dreams and paying rent. Follow her! @carriegravenson