There are a lot of articles out there that will tell you what to do on a first date. But what’s even more important is understanding what not to do. Some of the more common activities for a first date actually have the potential to be damaging. Here are three definite nyets for any first date:
#1. The movies
The allure of the movies is that it’s easy. And if you happen to live in an area where there are relatively few entertainment activities, there’s always the old local theater ready to fill your Friday night schedule.
The problem with movies, of course, is that they’re completely non-interactive. Sitting parallel in a dark room and not talking for two hours doesn’t exactly afford you much chance to get a good read on somebody-which is the point of a first date to begin with. So resist the temptation to do a movie after dinner and opt for something that stimulates conversation rather than stifles it.
#2. The group date
This entry may receive some hostility. A lot of people still prefer to take the “friends first” route with potential significant others and hang out in large groups before migrating to a paired arrangement. But this old method has less relevance in the era of online matchmaking, where dating comes with a greater sense of intentionality.
First dates are a notoriously stressful affair where both people are likely to be nervous. Being under the microscope of friends only amplifies that pressure and pushes people to put on airs. Save the group dates for relationships that have already made it off the ground.
#3. The lunch date
Most of us remember Harry Burns’ pontification in When Harry Met Sally that first dates often start out as lunch because it’s safer-there’s no expectation of what will happen after lunch so the pressure is smaller. While this is true, it also highlights the problem with the lunch date route, the stigma.
Here’s something that everybody knows, but nobody ever says: the dating world values times the same way that television does. Evening slots are at a premium, matinees are for reruns and infomercials. If you’re only willing to invest a lunch in a first date, you’re sending a queue that you have low expectations. And as another incisive Meg Ryan rom-com opined, “Love is hard enough without bring in such low expectations” (Bill Pullman in Sleepless in Seattle). If somebody’s worth going out with, they’re worth devoting a couple of your peak social hours to.
So if you happen to have a first date on the horizon and you’re contemplating what to do, avoid these three common pitfalls and plan something that will give you an honest read about whether you want that second date.