Great First Dates

Don’t settle for the same old restaurant or coffee shop. Try something new with these ideas from daters around the country.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ired of the same old date at the same old place with the same old results? Why not opt for a change of venue? We’ve uncovered eight original dates you can add to your repertoire along with advice on how to make that all-important first date a winner.

“First dates are so important because it’s not only a time of excitement, romance and expectation, but it’s the time when you set the tone for the relationship,” explains Brenda Shoshanna, psychologist and author of Save Your Relationship (21 Basic Laws of Successful Relationships). “Usually a person tells you all you need to know on the very first date. But most of us don’t pay attention because we are so caught up in our own fantasy. However, if we use first dates wisely, we can know right away if this person is right for us to go forward with, what to expect up ahead, and what challenges we will face.”

Choose a first date that allows you to really find out about each other.
Choose a first date that allows you to really find out about each other.
“Rather than using the time to party, go to a movie or do something else that can be distracting, spend the time in an activity that lets you talk to each other,” she advises.

Here are some specifics:

Putt-putt your way to love.
“A miniature golf course is fun and you can talk,” says Jon Caroulis of Philadelphia. “But make sure you have a backup plan in case it rains or if it’s too hot or too chilly.” Tip: If you’re a scratch golfer, give up a stroke or two in the interest of building a good relationship.

Serve others.
“I’m pretty shy and didn’t want to ask her out for a proper date right off,” says Stewart Simms of Charlotte, NC. “So I asked her if she wanted to go with me to do some community service, which was part of our singles ministry at church. We were focused on doing good work while we got to know each other better.”

Pack a picnic for two.
“Picnics aren’t something you do
“You can get an instant read on your date at a trivia night.”
everyday,” says Jerry Moore of New York. “Even if you’re not a great cook, you can pick up some tasty morsels at your local grocery, grab a blanket and head out.”

Get out and explore.
“I love the local children’s museum,” notes Bette Roberts of San Francisco. “It’s got lots of goofy hands-on exhibits that are totally fun. Going there lets me find out if my date takes himself too seriously—and if he doesn’t like kids.”

Be creative
“You can learn a lot about a guy if he’ll agree to go pottery-painting with you,” says Allison Wade of Tacoma, WA. “You can talk as you’re painting, but there are distractions so it’s not all you all the time.”

Browse the stacks.
“My favorite first date was at a record store,” recalls Nell Tousseau of Austin, TX. “We both liked music and we spent an hour or so going through the bins, telling each other about our favorite bands.” Other options: antiques stores or used-book stores.

Get trivial.
“You can get an instant read on your date at a trivia night,” says Derrick Marcus of Boston. “You find out what interests her without having to ask a lot of lame questions.”

Pair up for a Bible study.
“Go to a nice library or a quiet coffee house and read scripture with your date,” says Danica Miller of La Habra, CA. “It’s low-key and a very nice way to study the Bible and spend time together.”

Give these ideas a try, and increase your chances of having a first date that leads to a second.

Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer who frequently contributes to Happen magazine.
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