The three kinds of first dates

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What is a date? Yes, it’s two people meeting and spending time together with the possibility of romance but the immediate goal of a good time being shared. But when we say someone went on a date, do we mean dinner and a movie? A stroll through the park? Skinny-dipping?

For the purposes of this article—and as a reminder to get the best results from your first-date experience—let’s assume that falling madly into bed with each other is not the desired outcome. Sex is great, but what’s the rush? Are you so horrible you’d never have a second date, or a third? If not, let the anticipation build.

shutterstock_157354478But if so, hey, go for it.

Anyway, back to our date debate:

The Three Kinds of First Dates

I think it was Aristotle who said, “There’s dates and then there’s dates, amirite?” He had a good point, in that there are significant differences in the essence of each of the three kinds of date. Different people prefer one of these varieties, and that’s good! You just want to try to get a first-date partner who likes and expects that variety as well.

The Friendly First Date

In the seven years I spent in high school, this may have been the most prevalent kind of date I saw. Think of it: Most teens don’t know what their future holds, or even what they want it to hold. Treating a first date like a step toward marriage doesn’t make any sense when you don’t even know what state you’ll be living in, should college be in your future. And if it isn’t, what about the other person?

This is why friendly dates are perfect when two people just want to spend some enjoyable time together without any big expectations or assumptions. Having dinner and seeing a movie are great friendly-date activities, since you can enjoy sharing the experience of the food and the flick without worry that you said or did the wrong thing that might make the other person not want to marry and have kids with you. Just dinner at Marie Callendar’s and a scary movie with a new (or old) friend. If you fall in love and want to do a more “serious” second date, go for it! Perhaps contrary to conventional wisdom, The Friend Zone is actually an awesome place to start a personal relationship of any kind.

shutterstock_144637685Okay, maybe not any kind.

The formal first date

This is when (traditionally) the man asks the woman to do something explicitly romantic with him. Dinner isn’t going to be at Cracker Barrel. It will be somewhere elegant, somewhere that the woman feels special and where the man feels like he is providing a singular experience. A movie is never a bad date, but is it a romantic movie? Most women and more men than will admit it really get into a love story, and it keeps the focus on the romance even as you sit not actually speaking to each other. Also, there may be the holding of hands and a knee squeeze or two. A formal date is honest and up-front about being a test to see if these two hearts want to grow closer.

A formal date is what most of us think of when we think of a “date.” But it hardly needs to be an expensive this and a fancy that. Maybe a carriage ride after a high-priced dinner is what a couple wants; or maybe it’s visiting an art museum and doing something else inexpensive that still elevates the evening above the average.

shutterstock_214027750Or perhaps something very expensive.

The blind first date

Maybe the two of you were suggested to each other by a mutual friend. Maybe you met online. Maybe you used a dating service like WhatsYourPrice.com to ensure that you both know you’re dating a person you want to be dating.

No matter how a blind date was arranged, it can still be nerve-wracking because it falls somewhere between a friendly date (you don’t know if there will be romantic interest there) and a formal date (there may be an expectation of romance, but it’s not explicitly being sought).

The best activities for a blind first date are things like carnivals or bowling or something else that’s (a) practically guaranteed to be fun; and (b) allows you to talk with and get to know the other person. And the best part is that even if your opposite number turns out not to be one you’d want a second date with, what you’re doing on that first date is distracting and fun enough to make it not matter if it’s ending up as a friendly date or a formal date.

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For example, watching Eugene, Oregon’s annual “running of the bears.”

The date you want is what’s important

Whether it’s a friendly date, a formal date, or something in between is something you can discuss with your date-to-be. If the man has gone the WhatsYourPrice.com route, everyone is happy even before the first date starts. She has a little money for a new dress and new shoes, and he knows he’s proven his interest in her. This way gives each party the date they want, no matter which of the three kinds of dates it might be.

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