Dating. Just the word makes many of us cringe. What’s supposed to be a good, low-key way to get to know a person of the opposite sex often degenerates into an awkward, glad-that’s-over-with dinner and a movie. Here are some suggestions to take the edge off your dating experience (and, hey, if you already have that special someone, these tips are no less helpful—try them out for a new, unexpected date with your soul mate):
This is the number one rule in dating. Far too many potential relationships are ruined by the atmosphere of the first date. Don’t go to a nice restaurant on the first date. It’ll only make you and your date nervous, and you’ll both feel like you have to perform. Go somewhere that’s less threatening, a place where you’ll have the freedom to be yourselves.
Ah, creativity. Don’t feel compelled to go certain places (ie: movies, restaurants, mini golf) just because they’re traditional date spots. Do something you enjoy, and that you can share with your date.
Dating someone doesn’t mean you have to marry them. Treat your date like a friend you haven’t seen in a while, and enjoy finding out what’s been going on in his/her life. If you come on too strong, all you’ll do is make your date uncomfortable.
PLAN, BUT BE FLEXIBLE
If a friend recommends a place for you to go, make sure you’ve been there before, so you won’t get lost on the way. Be flexible with your plan, though, so there’s room for spontaneity. Remember, you’re not going out to get something done, but to get to know someone.
Now that you know the basic rules of dating, here are some proven date ideas to get you started:
[+] Take a walk, and bring a camera. Along the way, see how many strangers are willing to have their picture taken with you.
[+] Go to a thrift store and browse the racks. Get some funky clothes, put them on, and go out to eat at a neighborhood restaurant.
[+] Pick a theme and orient your date around that theme. For instance, you could do an Italian date where you eat pasta, then watch an Italian movie. Or you could do a yellow date, where you eat banana cream pie while listening to Coldplay’s "Yellow." See how quickly your date can guess the theme.
[+] Take your date to a local community theater, then make them dinner. Ask your date beforehand to prepare a talent, and after dinner, you can put on a show of your own for each other.
[+] Go on a childhood date. Go to places you haven’t been to since childhood, and reminisce about the days of innocence.
[+] Go on an art date. Get some art supplies together and go to a nearby park. Draw and paint the landscape, or each other. If you don’t have any artistic talent, it’ll be all the more fun.
[+] Get some coloring books and go to a local coffeeshop to color.
[+] Do some volunteer work together. You could put on a clown or puppet show at a children’s hospital, or sing and dance to Sinatra tunes at an adult home. You’ll have a great time, plus you’ll be able to reach out to some really lonely people.
[+] Meet at a bench in the mall, and eat lunch. People-watch, and make up conversations between people as they go by.
[+] Go to the beach, and picnic on sushi. This is a great way to get close to the origin of your lunch! Later, try flying a kite together.
[+] Go to the zoo or aquarium. Compare the animals to famous people, or friends of yours.
[+] Head over to the bookstore and read children’s books together. You can’t miss with Dr. Seuss!