12 Fun Things to Do on a First Date Other Than Dinner
For a First Date, Skip the Dinner and Do Something Active
My brother is a serial dater with one curious tendency; he stops after the first date. He's reaching 50 now, has never been married, and has never been involved in a serious relationship. I wish I could contact every woman he's ever known and say these reassuring words: “It wasn't you. For some insane reason that only years of therapy could untangle, he only goes on one date and calls it quits. He does it all the time.”
Watching his pattern over the decades, I realized that going out to dinner is not the best choice for a first date. My brother saw it as an opportunity to sit back and judge the woman, nitpicking her habits: talks too much, chews too noisily, orders the most expensive item, dresses too provocatively, asks too many questions, wears too much makeup. He acted like an employer during a job interview but with no intention of hiring the person. It didn't matter what she said or what she did, she wouldn't get the gig.
That's why I urge both men and women to think outside the box when it comes to first dates. Forget the dinner and think of something that involves more than eating and talking. Doing something active is always better than doing something sedentary, and it gives you a more accurate picture of who the person is. After all, lots of people are good at shooting the bull but, put them in real world situations, and they're totally inept. Doing something active also screens out people like my brother who enjoy going out to dinner but want nothing more. So, without further ado, here are 12 fun things to do on a first date other than going to dinner:
Get Outside and Do Something Adventurous Like Ice-Skating or Roller-Skating
1. Go Ice-Skating or Roller-Skating.
2. Go to “Game Night.”
Many game stores have a weekly Game Night where players show up at a certain time, form a group, and play a board game. This is a terrific way to interact with a purpose and not struggle with awkward chit-chat. It also gives you an opportunity to see how your date behaves with strangers and how open she is to learning new things. The game store employees know the inventory well and will hook you up with a game that fits your desires. It costs absolutely nothing, but some stores sell beer, wine, and snacks. Since Game Nights are typically attended by more men than women, they're great for gals wanting to meet guys (better than bars, ladies, especially if you like the geeky type)!
3. Make Dinner Together.
Making dinner together as a team is a fantastic way to get to know one another while working on a common goal. One of you prepares the entree while the other makes a salad or side dish. Choose something easy so you don't get bogged down following a complicated recipe and are unable to talk. After the meal, make some chocolate chips cookies, brownies, or ice cream sundaes. If you're looking for a long-term relationship, you want somebody who's willing to cook and this is a great chance to watch him in action. Making a meal together is a surprisingly sensual experience that can often ignite a romance.
Make Dinner Together and Savor the Sensual Experience
4. Go Bowling.
The funny-looking shoes, the sticky alleys, the gutter balls, the beer and nachos...What's not to like about bowling? It's that rare sport where couples can exercise while simultaneously talking, drinking, and eating. Nobody takes it too seriously. Plus, the bowling alley offers a relaxed atmosphere to banish any date night nerves. It's also a great place for people watching.
5.Go to a Flea Market or Garage Sales.
Not all of us shine brightly in the evenings. We're often tired and stressed after a long day of working and commuting. We're better suited to vegging out in front of the television than keeping up a stimulating conversation. That's why going to activities early in the day such as flea markets and garage sales is marvelous for us morning folks (plus, that's when you get the best bargains). Walking around a flea market and spotting strange items (and strange people) is no-cost entertainment. It's interesting to watch your date in action: dickering for an item, buying gifts for friends and family, and asking what appeals to you. Personally, I'd never fall for a guy who doesn't love a flea market, but that's just me!
6. Go for a Hike.
This checks off a lot of boxes that may concern you about your date: Is she fit? Does she value staying in shape? Does she like to spend time outdoors? Is she interested enough in me to spend several hours on a hike? Plus, conversation flows when we're moving our bodies, taking in fresh air, and experiencing something together.
7. Visit a Museum or Art Gallery
If you want a life of culture, this is a valuable way to weed out people such as my brother, who consider watching a marathon of “The Big Bang Theory” the height of sophistication. If your date has no interest in visiting one of these places, you should consider whether it's a deal-breaker. Never think for one second you'll change this person. He comes as is.
8. Go to the Library.
When I was a kid, the library was strictly a place to read books, stay quiet, and get shushed by a librarian. Today, though, they're cultural centers with many stimulating events that are absolutely free: talks by visiting authors, ethnic cooking classes, presentations about countries and cultures, book discussions, and slide shows about volcanoes, forests, and sharks. Contrary to what you may think, the library is actually a romantic place, especially when you're alone in the racks!
9. Go to a Comedy Club.
How could you possibly have a bad time at a comedy club? Attending a live show is a lot more exciting and interactive than watching a movie. Plus, you can typically enjoy alcoholic drinks, and sometimes even dinner, during a performance. After 20 years of marriage, I strongly recommend finding a person with a robust sense of humor. It sure makes life easier and a lot more fun.
10. Go Wine-Tasting or Beer-Tasting
It's always a good idea to see how someone handles her liquor, and this is a great opportunity. Plus, it's a relaxing date where you can really get to know a person intimately. Is she snotty about wine, taking it far too seriously, or is she down-to-earth and puts it in perspective? Since it's not wise to drink on an empty stomach, plan to have a picnic at a winery or in a park.
11. Play Bocce Ball, Badminton, or Ping-Pong
Playing any of these games is a light-hearted way to have some friendly competition, get exercise, and have some laughs. You learn a lot about a person when competing against them: how determined they are, how honorable they are, and how they take victory or defeat. My would-be-husband found out early on that I'm a horrible loser. But, instead of getting turned off by it, he actually found it endearing. Go figure!
12. Do Something Neither One of You Has Ever Done
This is one of my all-time favorite ideas for a first time. Put your heads together and brainstorm things that you've wanted to do but never have such as making an authentic Chinese dinner, swimming across the lake in January, going line-dancing, doing karaoke, or playing chess. Choose one to do together. This is a fabulous way to see how you two meld, compromise, and create memories.
A Funny Book About First Dates and the Search for Finding Your Life's Partner
Even after 20 years of being married, I still remember the ups and downs of dating especially those terrifying first dates. This book is funny, smart, and insightful as the author describes her first date experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Along the way, we understand how important it is to keep a sense of humor, don't give up hope, and don't settle for less. Whether you're single or partnered up, you'll enjoy reading this entertaining book.
© 2016 Nancy Mitchell