Skip the Restaurant on a First Date
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For your first date, plan an activity instead
For many Solo Moms, the idea of lunch or dinner as a first date can be terrifying. The thought of sitting across the table from a complete stranger and chatting for one or two hours can be stressful. What if there isn’t enough to say or your date is terribly dull or an immediate turnoff? Is there any way to end the meal early without being rude? How do you handle unique dietary restrictions? What if spinach gets stuck in your teeth?
There are ways to ease that first-date anxiety—and one of them includes picking an activity instead of going out for a meal. Activities naturally generate conversation and allow your date to get a true glimpse of your “fun side”—something that can be hard to portray while sitting at a table. Although there are the typical date activities that people tend to rely on, such as riding a bike or spending an afternoon in a park, there are so many more things to see or do that can create a memorable first-date experience.
If you are athletic or willing to be a good sport, your get-together could get a boost of endorphins to help it along. Depending on the time of year, there are several outdoor activities that will generate friendly competition. An afternoon of mini golf or a few rounds at a batting cage on a nice day not only are classic ways to enjoy someone’s company but also can provide great insight into your date’s competitive streak and whether he or she handles winning or losing in a respectful manner. If you prefer a team-building exercise instead, rock climbing or an adventure park are two ways to see if your new friend is the motivational type and someone who will, quite literally, catch you when you fall. Too hot or cold to be outside? No problem. You can have a good laugh over the ugly shoes you’ll be wearing while bowling or show off your flexibility with a yoga class.
If you want an adventure but aren’t necessarily athletic, there are other options. When the weather is nice, water and amusement parks can provide an exciting yet casual environment that makes it easier to get to know someone. These parks instantly relieve stress and improve your mood, creating the perfect atmosphere for a great first date. Riding a roller coaster or zipping down a steep waterslide provides a rush of adrenaline that makes you feel more “alive” and raises your spirits. As an added benefit, these parks are often so large that you end up walking miles without even realizing it. But if it’s a rainy or cold day and you’d still like an action-filled first date, arcades can provide many of the same benefits. Go-kart racing; playing Skee-Ball, video games, or billiards; and even dancing are all great ways in which to facilitate laughter, connect, and encourage conversation.
Do you prefer the arts to an afternoon adventure? Museums are always an option, but instead of quietly shuffling through rooms of someone else’s work, why not make your own and go home with a memento of your time together? Painting pottery is a great way to express your creativity and add to your coffee-mug collection. If you aren’t artistic, most studios provide idea books, samples, stencils, and stamps to help you create the perfect piece. If you are in need of some new art in your home, then a painting session is a great first-date activity. Often taught by a local artist who provides step-by-step instructions, painting classes usually involve sipping your favorite adult beverage while creating artwork that you can proudly display in your favorite room or hide on that empty wall in the basement. Sitting side by side while painting can help you relax and creates an immediate topic of conversation.
If empathy is an important trait for anyone you date, then your first meeting can be the perfect way to show your date how you wear your heart on your sleeve. For animal lovers, a trip to a local animal shelter or wildlife sanctuary can generate those warm, fuzzy feelings and give you the opportunity to see if your potential mate cares for all creatures. Plus, being around animals is a natural conversation starter. However, if rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty is how you show you care, volunteering on your first date could be a great way to do a good deed and get to know someone new. Many towns have organized cleanup efforts as well as planting projects at various times of the year, or you can also search for your local Habitat for Humanity to see if there is a current project where your skills may be needed.
Still feel the need to make food or drink a part of your first date? Cooking classes are a fun way to bond with someone new and learn if he or she will be the type of partner who will surprise you with a romantic home-cooked meal. From breakfast to dessert, there is no shortage of classes to choose from, and you may learn something new. For those who prefer to simply relax with a drink on a first date, you can escape the local bar scene by visiting nearby wineries, breweries, and distilleries—they often offer on-site tours and tastings. If you go this route, please think through your transportation options, and consider taking a cab or using Uber to and from your date.
Planning a fun afternoon activity can remove a lot of first-date awkwardness and create more natural conversations. Doing something different that gets your adrenaline pumping or creativity flowing shows who you are and allows you to get a good glimpse into your date’s personality as well. And, you’ll have some fun! We’d love to hear about some of your first-date ideas!
ESME’s Gia Miller is a Solo Mom to a nine-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy. She writes about health and wellness, medical news, parenting, divorce, and general lifestyle. Her work has been featured in online publications including Paste, Headspace, Folks, HealthDay, and more.
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