Dating and Relationship Advice

All hope for romance is lost when our go-to date is sitting in a dark room with strangers and not talking. No matter how good the movie, that ninety minutes to three hours of sustained silence can be awkward, annoying, and, most importantly, avoidable.

That internal logic of a movie is right — limited direct eye contact, low expectations, something to talk about. Have you ever noticed that your best conversations happen while you’re preoccupied, like driving a car or playing a card game? That’s because preoccupation can help us calm our nerves and shed the first layer of inhibitions; we feel more open when we have something else to do.

First dates are like fidget spinners. They can help channel anxiety and distract your hands — for you to focus on more important things: each other. Here are five first dates, beyond the predictable dinner and a movie, that will make for a memorable time:

  1. What’s the opposite of dinner and a movie? Breakfast and a museum. Lunch and thrifting. Coffee and an open mic. Dessert and the driving range. Brunch and a baseball game. There is no need to ditch the dynamic duo date; swap it for something more sensational and unique!
  2. Roleplay as foreplay. Slip into the past — or future — with a romantic, classic date. Go for bowling and milkshakes, or for rollerblading and popsicles — pick an era or age to live in for an afternoon. If you’re feeling adventurous, go back in time with dancing and drinks, poems and a picnic, or even cave painting and cocktails (okay, maybe not that one).
  3. Volunteer. There’s nothing hotter than someone with a heart. Choose a fun, easy, or exciting way to help your neighborhood. This can double as a motive to get the ball rolling and set a date. If you and your crush are both fans of conservation, suggest picking up a shift at a community garden or a long walk on the beach picking up recycling — hey, whatever gets your motor running. Pick a location and plan ahead so you can work together at a site.
  4. Try a task. It can be cute and small, like running an errand via a long walk through the city, or homey and challenging, like painting a large canvas together. Go low-key and satisfying, like organizing your bookshelf, or creative and time-consuming, like cutting and pasting vision boards. The point is to pick a simple task that reflects your joint interests and illicit conversation — like baking cookies. Be careful you don’t accidentally sign someone up for a strenuous or inaccessible task, like moving a couch, deep cleaning your fridge, or folding your laundry.
  5. Raise the rate, raise the stakes. While your heart rate might already be up on the first date, an involved activity can be a great way to use up that energy while getting a little physical. Play some pickup or go for a lazy bike ride; even something low-energy such as Twister or walking can get your minds in line with your bodies.

When I was in 6th grade, my then-boyfriend and I went to see the latest Harry Potter movie. I knew, from TV shows and teenage magazines, that I should tell him I didn’t like jump scares and pray that a jump scare would occur and send me snuggling into his arms. Fortunately for me — and dating singles everywhere — we no longer rely on plot twists to ensure we have a great time on that first date.

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