Unconventional First-Date Ideas to Take the Pressure Off
Meeting a romantic partner for the first time can be overwhelming and stressful. While you may have developed some rapport with this person through messages on a dating app or mutual friends, going on a first date brings a new array of fears. There's the fear of judgment and evaluation by this new person, worries of rejection and the overall awkwardness if the conversation turns sour or boring.
The standard of grabbing coffee, drinks or dinner isn't ideal for helping these anxieties. These setups are structured to generate (sometimes intense) one-on-one conversation, and the open-endedness of these scenarios can make you feel trapped. Instead, here are some alternative first-date ideas that let you test the waters without feeling overwhelmed.
Run some mundane errands
Whether it's making a run to the post office, dropping off clothes for donation or returning a pair of shoes that don't fit, marking things off your to-do list for a first date has the potential to make your mundane errands fun. Prepare a few easy tasks and have your date do the same, so you can spend an allotted time on activities, with the possibility of ending the date when those activities are complete or extending it if you're both enjoying the company. If you offer to drive, let your date play DJ and have them hit you with their favorite tunes, or vice versa.
Even if the date goes poorly, hey, you still accomplished something productive.
Go for a walk or an easy hike
Pandemic-proof and great for conversation, a walk around a neighborhood trail, a bustling city adventure or a simple hike are all perfect first-date plans. Pick a route that's not too physically demanding so you're not winded while trying to chat. Walking around in nature or through the streets of your town allows for plenty of outside conversation inspiration if you're worried about running out of things to talk about. Plus, the side-by-side conversation prevents the pointedness of being constantly observed and evaluated by your date.
Walking promotes stress relief and can be a channel to allow your anxiety to be released while you're on the date. A bit of physical activity may be all you need to get out of your head and focus on getting to know your romantic interest. If you pick a route that's a loop, you have the option to extend the date or end it should things go south. Plus, choosing to walk through your city gives you a chance to stop somewhere for a coffee, drink or snack if you'd like to spend more time with the person.
Chances are, you probably know a bit about this person already or have established some shared interests. If you've touched on these subjects, this is the perfect opportunity to choose a first-date spot you know will offer plenty of conversation topics about the location itself. Shopping or just browsing at a mutual spot of interest offers organic sources of conversation.
Of course, we're not talking about making your date wait on you while you try on jeans. Instead, opt for a record, book, gaming gear, outdoor outfitters, plant nursery, antiques or whatever-shared-interest store you have available to you. While there, you have plenty of opportunities to focus on your mutual passions, which can be an exciting and natural place for you to be open and sincere.
Plan for the worst, hope for the best
Regardless of what you choose to do for a first date, having a finite plan of escape can help ease your nerves surrounding meeting someone new. When you make arrangements for hanging out, let the other person know you have only a certain amount of time to spend with them or choose an activity with a time cap so that the pressure doesn't fall on you to fumble with an excuse to leave if the date is going poorly.
Of course, while you may want to plan for the worst, hope for the best. If things are going well, once the set activity is completed, you can segue into another activity that's in your comfort level. First dates don't have to be a burden—they can be a fun way to spend an hour or, fingers crossed, more.