So you hit it off, you tentatively suggested a date, and they said yes. Now it’s time to figure out what you’re going to do on your first date, which is sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure of potential romance — or awkwardness. Choose wisely!
Pros: Alcohol = conversational lubrication. More romantic than coffee, but less of a commitment than dinner. Easy to prolong or or cut short after one drink, depending.
Cons: Not everyone drinks! Can be hard to think of things to talk about if there’s no immediate chemistry. The worry of drinking too much.
Pros: No need to worry about beer goggles or whether you’re acting a little too, shall we say, ebullient. You can be sure your judgement isn’t impaired.
Cons: They don’t call alcohol a social lubricant for nothing! A bar, whether it’s a wine bar or a dive bar, can also just be a nice place to hang out after dark, and bars tend to stay open later than coffee shops.
Pros: Gets you both out of your element, on the same team. Easy ice-breaker. Can focus on doing something rather than asking the usual “date-y” questions. See what it’s like to actually hang out with someone, rather than just drink with them.
Cons: If the date isn’t good, you’re still stuck doing whatever activity with him. People can feel too much out of their element.
Listen or Watch Dates:
Pros: A movie or a concert is a great way to explore a shared interest. It’s also a nice way to kill two birds with one stone, if there’s a concert or a movie you particularly want to go to. Experiencing an amazing show together can be a bonding experience, and it gives you plenty of fodder for conversation when it’s over.
Cons: A movie or a show certainly isn’t a great way to get to know someone, seeing as you’re basically greeting each other and then focusing all your attention on whatever entertainment’s at hand. So it might be a little awkward, and further ice breakers may be necessary!
Pros: The best, most low-pressure scenario for dates that you’re feeling “iffy” about. Daytime coffee has virtually no pressure to extend the date past an hour, though of course it’s easy to do so if there’s a spark. The fact that a cup of coffee is inexpensive is another bonus.
Cons: Well, it’s certainly not romantic. You’d be hard-pressed to have a coffee date end in a first kiss, unless you either move on to drinks/dinner/another activity, or stay there for hours. But who, apart from freelancers and students, wants to stay at a coffee shop for hours?
Pros: A quick way to get to know a person’s taste/shared aesthetic sensibility. A shared “mission,” if you’re shopping for something in particular. Fun and easy to discuss weird or cool finds.
Cons: Just walking around and looking at stuff can get a little boring. Can be hard to segue the conversation into other things besides the immediate present. And definitely not a good date for people who don’t like to browse or shop!
Pros: The thrill of discovering a new neighborhood, coffee shop or art gallery can be a great way to bond. The cheesy lines practically write themselves: “We’ll always have GOWANUS…”
Cons: Exploring can be fun, but aimlessly walking around can get a little tiring, especially if the place you’re exploring doesn’t turn out to be that…interesting. If things on the date don’t go well, it’s a loooong trip back to where you started.
Pros: You’ll feel virtuous and you’ll get to know each other while actually making a different. You’ll instantly have something to do — it’s sort of like an activity date with added karma. And you’ll totally have earned a post-volunteering drink! (Or three.)
Cons: Depending on the task, volunteering can be emotionally taxing. That can be some pretty heavy stuff to experience with someone you’ve just met.
This piece was excerpted from Modern Dating: A Field Guide.