5 Great First Dates (and 5 Horrific Ones)

Believe it or not, getting that initial “date night” right matters. It is a critically important facet of the slightly awkward, preliminary relationship dance that occurs between recently introduced, and obviously interested, adults.

Who are you? Who am I? What do you like? What do I like?

All these questions (and many more) will find themselves subtly presented and carefully discussed over a few short hours together. For better or worse, the raw results will determine the likelihood of any future outings as a couple.

Sadly, even as we live in a world obsessed with all-things social (as in “media” mainly), far too many of us remain clueless when it comes to structuring even the most basic of real-world “getting-to-know-you” rituals. So, in the interest of securing love for all, I have provided a handy cheat sheet for the dating-impaired. Please use it…wisely.

GOOD DATE: Going to a Soup Kitchen…to Volunteer

Obviously, this says something about you as a person. You care about others in a real, tangible way and you hope that someone who might be interested in you would feel the same. It could also be a bit of virtue signalling but on the whole it sends a crystal-clear message about your values. Working together to help make the world a kinder, gentler place is never a bad way to start off a relationship.

HORRIBLE DATE: Going to a Soup Kitchen…for Dinner

Point blank: You should not be taking someone to a soup kitchen for dinner. It suggests that either you’re A) too cheap to pay retail for actual restaurant food, or B) you’re so obsessed with being “quirky” that you’ll risk your date’s embarrassment while stealing food from mouths far more deserving.

GOOD DATE: Seeing the Civic Sites

Sure, government may be boring, but touring historical city buildings and landmarks can be pretty cool. Releasing your inner history nerd lets you re-do that whole senior trip from way back when, but this time with far more context. As a bonus, this will give you the opportunity to explore otherwise off-limit topics (like politics) in a fairly benign fashion, which is always a good idea for two folks getting to know each other. Cap it all off with a picnic lunch near a monument and you’ve got a winner.

HORRIBLE DATE: Seeing the Civic Sites…During Your Court Appearance

Everyone multi-tasks but dragging someone you just met to a court appearance is reprehensible. Sure, it’s the same civic location but the context is completely wrong. Do you really think you’re impressing anyone by highlighting the legal challenges created by the ways in which you do (or did) live your life? Lose even more points if the court appearance in question offers a better than 20% chance of you being led away in cuffs. Seriously, what’s wrong with you?

GOOD DATE: Art Gallery

The smart money always plays up their cultured side. Attending art galleries or exhibitions is a great way to get out and about while appreciating works of skill and beauty that provoke discussion and promote entry into a world of ideas. You’ll find out tons about each other as you explore all forms of classic art and design, not to mention the groovy cafes and funky gallery gift shops perfectly located so you can buy something unique to commemorate your first day together.

HORRIBLE DATE: Art Gallery….Featuring an Ultra-modern, Performance Art Installation

Okay, I get that you revel in the avant-garde and that being on the cutting edge of what’s extreme matters more than life itself. But taking a date to a performance art show where there is more than likely some combination of uncomfortable nudity, talking genitals, or the flinging of bodily fluids is just inconsiderate. Add in abusive audience hectoring (e.g., general admonitions of collective social guilt), and you really need to work on your people skills. Save this stuff for a fourth or fifth date at least.

GOOD DATE: Learning to Make Pizza

Some restaurants offer a chance for couples to get inside the kitchen and learn a new skill. Over glasses of wine, you both get to live the life of a real pizza chef. From tossing the dough to prepping the ingredients to baking it just right, you can be pizza artisans for one night. And what could be better than creating a meal to share together as you laugh (and flirt) over the tastiest food ever invented? Best date ever.

HORRIBLE DATE: Learning to Make Pizza…at Your Family’s Pizzeria

It’s bad enough that your father insists any girl you date knows that she will be expected to work long hours in the family business, but that he tries to make them cry just to see how well they take orders and handle pressure is downright cruel. That your mother is furtively inspecting her for child-bearing hips is simply despicable icing on the horrible-date cake.

GOOD DATE: Underground Nightclub

Showing off your street cred is never a bad idea, and proving you’re in the know when it comes to select (and oh-so hip) clubs can be really attractive. Obviously you’ve already checked the club out in advance and know a good, safe time is guaranteed. Being the one with the insider knowledge (along with the secret knock) shows you can be trusted to make an evening both fun and interesting. Attractive qualities all around.

HORRIBLE DATE: Underground…Period

Sure your love of old tunnels, underground bunkers, and secret lairs is sincere. And no, the world may never fully appreciate your deep affection for places others have abandoned and forgotten. But dragging some unsuspecting date to an uncomfortably out-of-the-way location only to lead her into dark, unmarked passageways comes across more as a prelude to a brutal slaying than a “cool first date.” Rule of thumb: if your planned locale doesn’t have WiFi (or even hold a cell signal), it’s not a good first date spot. Maybe go bowling instead.

By Jarrod Thalheimer

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