First dates with anyone can be daunting and exciting at the same time. Whether you’re in college and finally have a chance to hook up with that hot pre-med student, or a divorcee with two kids, you just never know what’s in store.
However, a bit of planning can usually alleviate the stress associated with what to do or where to go and make it a successful outing.
· It’s never a good idea to “meet the parents” right away. Inviting the new guy over for Sunday dinner, no matter how casual it might be, could lead to an early disaster. Parents and siblings can’t help themselves – the “date” will turn into an inquisition. On the other hand, if he actually makes it through dinner, he (or she) is a keeper!
· Stay away from loud places. How on earth can you expect to get to know someone when you can’t even hear yourself speak? A nightclub or concert is never a good idea, no matter how much you both love the band on stage.
· The movies! I can’t tell you how many clients I have who insisted on a movie for the first date. Unless you talk through the whole movie, it can be quite awkward just sitting next to a virtual stranger for two hours.
· Dinner is always a good idea, but make sure you know where! Buying a new outfit only to find yourself at a local fast food joint – which happens to be “his favorite place” – is a deal breaker.
· The beach can be “iffy”. There are beach lovers who would give their right arm to actually live on the beach in their SUV full time, and there are others who enjoy visiting a few times each summer. If you are invited to a beach, you need to make sure right away that your interests at the beach are totally inline with your date’s. In other words, if your goal is to dip your toes in the water, bring a book, and sit under an umbrella to chill for a while, but your date shows up with snorkel gear and a case of beer – there is no fun on the horizon for you two!
· A picnic. This can go either way. Much depends on where, when, and what food is involved. I went on a picnic in Central Park once that was catered by a hotel, complete with china, champagne and gourmet finger foods. The weather was perfect and my date turned out to be a (very married) class act. Another picnic in the Berkshires turned out to be the exact opposite – middle of the woods, ants and creatures all over, cold and drizzly, and the food was nothing more than take out he picked up on the way, with music from his boom box. Yawn… (Too bad the married guy couldn’t have given this one some pointers!) If you love picnics, make sure you have some input into the planning.
· Lunch! I know there are many dating venues out there that actively promote first dates at lunch time, but I really don’t agree. Restaurants can be crowded, you don’t get seated quickly, and you are both most likely rushing to get back to work. If you both have lots more flexibility, sure, go for it. But if you are the average person out there with a job and responsibilities, lunch time is not the best scenario to meet up with someone for the first time.
· A bar! There are really two types of bars – there is a standalone enterprise that may or may not have food, and the other is a bar inside a restaurant where customers can frequent, with or without waiting to sit down for dinner. If he wants to meet you at a bar, make sure you and your date are both on board with what type of establishment this is going to be. Having a cocktail before dinner is perfectly fine, but if he intends to hang out at Bob’s Biker Bar all night, this might not be your cup of tea so to speak.
· “Let’s meet in front of (wherever) and see what happens”. Run like hell! If he can’t figure out something better to do with your valuable time than showing up so he can check you out first, he has too many social issues for even you to solve!
Of course, any date can turn out either really well, or the date from hell. These are simply suggestions to make sure your dates turn into lasting relationships and not one night standsoffs!