I went on a first date with a guy from Plenty of Fish the other week, and he mentioned that he finds he ends up going on a lot of first dates, but not many seconds. I realised I actually find the same too. With modern dating, particularly in a city like London, it’s pretty easy to line up another date, so unless you were in love after the first date, you don’t end up meeting again.
The positive side to this however, is that I’ve become a bit of a first date expert. I know what I like, what I don’t like, where works, and where doesn’t. So I’m here today to share my pearls of wisdom.
Disclaimer: these are just my opinions.
Another disclaimer: I also mean first date as in a blind date, not with someone you really like.
A standard-price restaurant
A lot of people get skittish about dinner on a first date, but I’ve written here about why you should do it. No matter how horrific the guy or girl turns out to be, you get to enjoy your food, and that makes everything OK. And if you like the person, you get a tasty meal and a good date. Double winner!
A quirky coffee shop
I’ve written here about why you should do coffee as a first date, but I get that Starbucks or Costa can be a bit bland. However, there are plenty of lesser-known venues with plenty of character. I once went on a coffee date to this place in Soho where they had all these Thai ornaments and cushions and what sounded like Thai music playing too. Perfect for a romantic vibe, and if there’s not a romantic vibe… ah well it’s £3.50 and 90 minutes max.
A bar outside London
Whenever I venture outside the capital, I’m reminded that elsewhere it’s possible to enjoy a night out without going bankrupt. So it would be possible to do a drinks date as a “pre-screen” to suss the other person out before you invest too much. You have to be careful to avoid crowds etc., but the right place could have the perfect atmosphere for those sparks to fly.
One guy I was talking to on Tinder suggested we go life drawing as a first date. Now there’s something you don’t hear everyday. It didn’t end up happening, but would have made a welcome break to the classic “fancy meeting up for a drink?”.
“A few drinks at the pub” is what you do on a Friday evening with your colleagues, or with a group of mates, NOT a date. A pub date says “I don’t actually want to go on a date with you, I just want to pour alcohol down your throat in the hope that you’ll sleep with me.” Uh, not happening mate. Exceptions exist if it’s for an upmarket pub lunch, or it’s a quirky, out-of-the-way pub with a nice view. But the negatives go double if it’s the pub outside his work.
A bar in London
Went on a date with a guy from Tinder who told me to meet at Trafalgar Square after work. I asked if there was food there, or whether I should eat before. He said eat before. Now, I’d always opt for food after work as I’m starving then, but I can understand the appeal of having a low-investment first date as a “screen”. But at the cocktail bar he took me too, the cheapest thing on the menu was £9.50. £9.50 for a fucking DRINK. So we might as well have just gone for a meal that we enjoyed.
As mentioned in this post, I once accidentally went on a date to a club, as at the bar I’d picked that turned into a club, the clubbers started arriving much earlier than anticipated and the music started blaring. Never again.
A bar where the football is showing
Once went on a date with a guy to a bar, and the football was playing in the background. When not on his phone, the guy spent the whole time not-so-subtly watching the football. I assumed that maybe he wasn’t interested, which is fair enough, but then texted afterwards asking to meet up again. Only this time, I had to come to his area (we’d met at a halfway point and he lives a mission away from me). Lovely.
An expensive restaurant
I once heard a story about a woman who went on a first date with a guy who was loaded. He took her to this restaurant where dinner cost around the £200 mark. At the end, he was like “should we split the bill?”. So she kind of had to, and ended up skint for the rest of the month. The guy who told me the story said the guy was a dick and he should have paid, but I think we live in an equal society, so the man should never be expected to pay. At the time I said what she should have done is be like “I can’t afford this place”, then if he offered to pay, fine. But thinking about it, he could have easily decided he wasn’t feeling it halfway through and decided to go Dutch, and you kind of look like a dick if you’re like “You have to pay!”. So it’s best just to go somewhere you can both afford.
Anything lasting over 2 hours
Although you kind of know in the first few minutes of a date whether you want to see that person again, I’m not a fan of people who down their drink and leave if they’re not feeling it. They made the effort to come, so at least sit out the date. You never know, you might enjoy it and they could become a friend. At the same time though, I wouldn’t want to sit through a 5 hour activity with someone I can’t stand. So best to keep it fairly low-investment until you’re sure.
Which date venues do you love or loathe? Let me know in the comments!