I’ve become pretty simple in my dating needs as I get older. A quiet, unpretentious restaurant where I can actually hear my date, understand the menu, and not be bothered is pretty much all I ask. And shouldn’t dates be paired down? If you’re trying to get to know somebody, then shouldn’t there not be a ton of distraction? I don’t really know why that’s such a hard concept for some people to grasp. Look, maybe on a third or fourth date you can get a bit more creative. At that point, you’ve learned the basics about the person, had a couple of in-depth conversations, and may be ready to see how he is in a different environment. But for a first date, keep it simple.
In my twenties, guys took me on some weird dates. One guy took me to a car dealership. I think he thought I’d find something sexy about watching him get a new car/negotiate. It turned out he was pretty bad at it, he couldn’t afford the one he wanted, the salesperson was rude, and my date’s credit was very bad—and read out loud in front of me. Not to mention that you can spend hours at a car dealership. Eventually, I just got bored and started making friends with the receptionist. I didn’t even leave with my date. I eventually just said, “I’m gonna go…” Yikes. What a disaster.
There are also some settings that I don’t like anymore, date or no date. So add the element of trying to get to know someone and trying to make a good impression to those arenas, and it’s ten times worse. Gentlemen, if I may: your personality should do the talking, and not some weird, quirky date idea. Here are date spots I hate since turning 30.
That scene with Cameron Diaz in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” comes to mind when they all force her to sing karaoke and she sounds like a dying cat and it’s very embarrassing. If you’re at a karaoke bar on a date, you are either politely listening to terrible and loud singing—so you can’t talk—or you are singing, and that’s probably embarrassing. Even when you’re good at singing, it’s embarrassing to be good at a karaoke bar.
Roller blading rinks
It may seem romantic and cute in Indie coming of age films, but it isn’t in real life. I do not go on a date to fall on my butt and go home covered in bruises. And, really, if there is any learning (like learning how to roller blade) going on during a date other than learning about each other, you just don’t have the time to get to know one another.
He is reading his poetry at an open mic. Or he is performing stand-up comedy. Or his band is performing somewhere. There are so many reasons I’m not down with this type of date. First off, if the guy is bad, it puts you in a tough spot. But if he’s good, it’s just a very egocentric date. It’s like he’s making you his groupie. The entire date is about him.
Don’t get me wrong: hibachi restaurants are delicious and super fun for a birthday, bachelorette party, or something social with a big group. But if you go on a date, you’re seated with a bunch of strangers, and you never get the chance to talk because the chef is putting on a show the entire time.
Cook-your-own food spots
These are also super fun with friends but, again, with a date, you should be focusing on each other. You shouldn’t be adjusting the flame on the little stove on your table, or trying to remember which sauce is which, or looking up the cook times for the mushrooms versus the filet.
A comedy show
I love a good comedy show. But, you don’t always know if you’re walking into a good comedy show. Some comedy shows are bad. And when they are, it’s uncomfortable. When the comics talk to you, ask about your relationship, and tease you, that’s uncomfortable, too. It can be fun with friends, but not with a first date.
Are we in high school? We’re just going to walk around the mall? Also, is it just me, or would I be too distracted by all the things I wanted to buy to pay attention to my date? Today when I go to a mall with my boyfriend I just say, “Let’s part ways and meet back in here two hours.” I got shopping to do!
If we cannot sit down and cannot hear one another, I will not be happy. I don’t care how special the craft cocktails are or how unique the ambiance is. I cannot enjoy that if the bar is so crowded that I have to stand the entire time, and yell just to speak to my date. Take me to an unpopular bar—a beer is a beer, and I just need to hear my date.
Rock climbing walls
Rock climbing—also known as bouldering—can be a lot of fun, is a great workout, and may even make a nice third or fourth date. But, for the love of God, please don’t take me rock climbing on a first date. I’ll just be grunting, sweating, and swearing the entire time.
I’m trying to get to know my date, and not 100 strangers. So if my date takes me to a party, I have the option to be super antisocial and corner my date, talking to him all night, so I can actually get to know him, but feel like I’m hogging his attention OR I can socialize at the party, and barely talk to my date.
A food truck
Well, the food truck has to be well-chosen. That’s what I’ll say. Is it located in a picturesque park, where we can sit on a blanket (that my date cleverly packed) after we get our food and look at the view? Or, is it in some parking lot, with no seating, where we just stand around over trashcans so we don’t drip grease everywhere?
A stroll through the botanical gardens? Sure. A little geriatric, but sure, I’ll do it. A beach walk? Love it. But a hike up an aggressively angled hill, trying to breathe while asking my date how his relationship is with his family? No thank you. Plus, I have bangs, and when I sweat, they get plastered to my face—not a good look for a first date.
Why is anybody going to the movies on a first date? What do you learn about someone by going to the movies with him? Besides that maybe he talks too much. Or falls asleep. Or has that awkwardly loud laugh. Or is super rude to other people who talk too much. These are all things it’s better to learn after getting to know somebody.
The group activity
I am not trying to meet a man’s entire group of friends on a first date. I know this is some trap men put women in—to see if they can hang with their friends—but I’m just out on it. I don’t appreciate a man testing me, and, furthermore, I don’t want to be distracted by all these friends: I’m trying to get to know my date.
First of all, it’s not safe at all. Going to some dude’s home on a first date is not practicing first date safety. Even having him to your place isn’t a good idea because then he knows where you live. But, furthermore, it’s just lazy on his part—he’s making you drive to him, and then he’s putting almost no effort into finding something for you two to do.