Unforgettable: Eight Great Dates by Personality Type
Beyond Dinner and a Movie
First dates are special. There's only going to be one first date with that person who eventually becomes your soul-mate or life-partner. Unfortunately, when we have first-date jitters, or if we're concerned about making a good first impression, we can sometimes err on the side of dullness. Here are some great first dates ideas that will make for interesting follow-up conversation -- and terrific memories years later when you're telling your kids those inevitable, "How we Met," stories.
For some reason, society has long maintained a "DAAM" attitude to dating -- that the first date should invariably be "Dinner and a Movie." Few dates used to leave me so cold. There's no bonding experience when you're sitting side by side in a crowded theater wondering if you're going to catch the crud the person behind you is coughing up, or wishing the guy in the fedora in front of you would quit reading the credits out loud.
Dare to be unforgettable!
Choose an Activity that Reflects Your Personality
My belief is we're most compatible with those who share our interests (at least to some degree). For that reason, don't "try too hard." If you absolutely loathe rap music and prefer chamber music, a hip-hop concert is probably not a great choice even if the object of your admiration is an absolute hip-hop fanatic who lives to concert-hop. Truth be told, that person just might not be the ideal mate for you (but obviously, don't rule them out just based on musical tastes). Choose something that you like and enjoy, and introduce them to your world. You'll be comfortable there, and it's truth in advertising.
Now, none of these opinions are hard and fast rules. That's the joy (and downfall) of opinions. However, I think that logic should come into play when we're strategizing about something as important and life-changing as trying to find the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with. Getting to know someone while being yourself, and showing them how you like to spend your time, is only logical. Playing a part and acting like someone you're not will eventually lead to accusations of, "You're not the same person I fell in love with!"
Here's a list of date ideas, classed by personality type or interest, to help you brainstorm for the greatest and most memorable of all first dates.
The Art Enthusiast
So you love the visual arts. You enjoy museums, galleries, and that quirky little restaurant that features local artists' paintings on the wall. You have options.
Many cities have art districts -- a row (or an entire section) of galleries and related businesses. Therein lies many an opportunity for a wonderful first date. If there's a governing association for the art district, you may find they have a schedule of events posted -- and many will be free. Look for art show openings featuring a reception for the artist, or a weekly "Art Walk," where galleries are open in the evening for visitors to stroll through (and enjoy a glass of wine along the way).
Seek out unusual museums. If you haven't visited the modern art museum in your metropolitan area, ask that special someone to share the experience with you. (Many museums feature excellent "art cafes" where you can treat your date to a light lunch, as well.) Are there any outdoor sculpture gardens in your city? If so, what better way to get to know someone than to ask if they'd enjoy lunch and a walking tour of the sculpture garden? If you're more of a hands-on type, you may want to explore art classes, demonstrations, and workshops. If you've met someone who shares your interest in painting, ask if they'd like to attend a one-day event with you. (If you haven't met anyone yet, you might just want to attend alone -- and who knows who else will be there?)
Most areas have open-air art festivals when the weather is right. Those are outstanding dating opportunities. Some such events are art shows, and often juried; others are arts-and-crafts festivals, where well-known painters have booths alongside potters and stained-glass artists.
Art shows sometimes appear where you might not expect them. They may be annual shows at the local city hall, or at a community center. Do some open-ended online searches and you may be surprised at what's going on right around you.
The Fitness Buff
You live to run. You love to swim. You think that a relaxing weekend is the "Weekend Warrior Obstacle Course and Mud Run," event. You want to get involved with someone who loves to sweat as much as you do. Here are some ideas.
Let's assume, for the purpose of this first date option, that you already know your potential date-mate is an athlete. Let's face it: you don't want to ask someone to go running with you when the last physical activity they participated in was hoisting a pitcher of beer and yelling, "Go team!" at the sports bar. But you've seen that cute jogger going by every day for the past two months and you think they've noticed you -- so now you're ready to ask them out.
Nothing says bonding like a full-marathon -- but consider asking them to go on an 8K or Fun Run first. There are lots of opportunities for conversation when you're standing in line waiting to register or get your goody bag at the end of the run. Here's a hint, though: don't leave them in the dirt to show your awesome glutes. Run with them. It's a date, after all.
Although organized events abound in most areas, from IronMan competitions to night runs or charity walks, you don't need to have an actual event to court the athlete you admire. Challenging them to a game of racquetball, or asking them to join you in renting a rowboat on the lovely lake in the foothills, is a good opportunity for getting to know someone. If you don't run competitively, you might entice them to "do that little run you've always wanted to do, but have saved for someone special," where you jog a scenic route within your region.
Afterwards, treat to a high-carb recovery meal at a casual restaurant.
Perhaps you're a mover-and-shaker in the political main street of your town. Maybe you're an activist. If so, the odds are this is a pretty important part of your life. You're going to need a life-partner who is as interested in the political landscape as you are -- and who will be an asset to you when you run for the senate a few years from now.
Here's the time to ask someone to attend a meet-and-greet for a favored candidate with you. Perhaps your future first-lady would enjoy joining you as you knock on doors and solicit votes. Maybe they'd like to attend a rally (do choose something safe where you don't expect violence -- exposing your date to tear gas on a first date is a definite don't). Are you both interested in preventing that big-box store from razing the historic building on Elm Street? Your future soul-mate is sure to enjoy going with you.
Just make sure you take them to the local tavern near the capitol building so you can shake hands with the elected officials who hangout there afterwards.
This is an easy one. Your cowboys and cowgirls love western music, two-stepping, bull-riding, and horseback riding. If you're lucky enough to live in the southwest, as I do, there are so many things to do you'll want to keep having just first dates (and many cowboys do).
I met my own future husband on horseback, so I'm partial to this one. If you both like to ride, or want to learn, you may want to take your date on a guided trail ride in your area. If you have your own horses, that makes it easier: pick a special trail, scout it first, and bring lunch with you. Don't forget to bring carrots for the horses.
If you're an urban cowboy, you may need to drive a bit to the outskirts, but you may be able to find an event that satisfies the "western" in you. Look for local rodeos, horse shows, or even bull-riding at local saloons. Try some line-dancing at your nearby western bar, or visit a recreated western town in your area. BBQ and a beer is the appropriate accompaniment.
You may just want to kick back and enjoy a show by a country singer on tour -- or find out who has the best "house band" in the area, and support your local musicians.
The Animal Lover
Who can resist a first date where puppies are involved? Not an animal lover, that's for sure. We all know that dogs and cats are chick magnets -- and big, rambunctious dogs are guy magnets. You've got so many opportunities here -- and many will benefit the greater good.
Animal-oriented dates can be as simple and inexpensive as taking your dogs to the bark park together, or going on a dog-walk to see if Pixie and Thor hit it off as well as their humans do, to something as elaborate as attending a formal ball to benefit the local shelter. Stuck for ideas? Call your favorite animal welfare group and ask if they're having any events or fundraisers. They might be offering a dog walk, a dinner and auction, or a seminar on rescuing animals. If you're an altruistic sort, you may even want to ask that special someone to accompany you on a service project of some sort -- an afternoon volunteering to help at an animal adoption event, for example.
You might prefer to visit a dog show (or a cat show) or a competition involving animals. There may be a pet festival going on, or even a dachshund race at the local horse-racing track (in Phoenix, the "wiener nationals" draws crowds of proud dachshund owners every year).
Animals are famous for bringing people together. If you want some brownie points, always bring a small bag of treats or a toy for your date's own personal pet.
The Suave Sophisticate
Dating is easier when you have refined tastes. Just about every big city, and most suburbs, have infinite opportunities to indulge in some classy pastimes. You'll not only enjoy yourself and have something to talk about after the event, but you'll be supporting the local arts scene.
Consider attending an opera, a performance of the local youth symphony, a live theatre performance, or a ballet. If your date is willing to attend but isn't familiar with cultural events, put them at ease by asking if they're comfortable going -- and fill them in on what's expected as far as attire and behavior. Don't set them up for embarrassment by taking them to the symphony without making sure they realize that flip-flops and a tank-top will earn them a few glances askance. If cultural activities are important to you, and your potential date says they'd rather perish in a piranha tank than attend an opera, honestly assess if you'll ever be happy with them in a long-term relationship.
The Outdoors Aficionado
If you're never happier than when you have a scenic, unexplored mountain vista before you, or when you're camped out beside a creek in a remote wilderness area, you've got unlimited potential for great first dates. If your date-to-be is terrified of the dark, or thinks nature is "icky" and ought to be paved, you'll have to make some decisions first. Don't think you're going to change the guy who's terrified of crawly things and wouldn't be caught dead sleeping on the ground.
For a romantic outing, pack your day-pack with a wonderful lunch (don't forget the red-and-white checked picnic cloth) and go for a day hike. Pre-scout the area so you have a special place for lunch selected.
If you're a member of the Sierra Club, you'll already have a large list of activities to choose from -- many of which are singles' events. You don't even have to have a date for those!
You may prefer to do a wildlife watching event, whether it's watching butterflies be released at the botanical garden, or having local park rangers host a night-time scorpion walk. For more extreme adventures, consider a rafting or kayaking trip, or even a day of fly fishing (it's not just for you and Dad, you know).
Make sure you take a camera. If you hit it off while enjoying the incredible outdoors, you'll have endless photo opportunities.
The Adrenaline Junky
So you don't feel quite alive unless you're jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, running off a cliff and waiting for the wings of your hang-glider to carry you away, or trying to break the sound barrier with one foot on the gas pedal. Adrenaline is known to bring people together, and makes for a great first date if your prospect has the same "no guts, no glory" attitude that you have.
If you love to go fast, you'll probably enjoy a day of renting go-carts at the local raceway -- or you may even want to bump it up a notch and attend a high-performance driving class. For that someone very special who has an adventurous spirit, go-cart racing is an exciting option.
Perhaps you've got a license to fly -- in a plane, that is. Make sure your proposed date isn't afraid of heights before asking them to join you in that little Piper Cub. Since that's well outside the average first-date budget, an amusement park with roller coasters and ferris wheels is a romantic alternative.
Hot-air ballooning, glider rides, and other high-flying activities are prevalent in many areas. Remember, though -- everyone has different levels of comfort with the more adrenaline-inducing activities. Don't belittle someone for expressing their fears; if it's that important to you, you'll have to be satisfied with a potential observer and cheerleader for your own adrenaline fixes, or you may decide to wait for the one who's willing to skydive with you.
Not Everyone Loves Surprises!
When you're considering a first date that's not quite within the norm, ask the person specifically if they'd like to attend the activity you have in mind. A woman who lives in stiletto heels and a mini-skirt isn't going to appreciate your romantic gesture when you pick her up for a surprise day hike to the top of your tallest urban peak. The success of your first outing together is far more important than that initial surprise (or shock) on their face when they find out what you've got planned for the day (or evening).
It's only fair to ask very clearly, "Hey, would you like to go to the racetrack with me?" or, "I'd love it if you'd join me on a spelunking trip." Spell out what it entails, if they're new to your chosen activity -- how they should dress, what they should bring, and -- if you're expecting to go dutch -- how much they can anticipate spending. Honesty in your dating practices is always the best policy; just as it's deceptive to use a fake online persona thinking that your date will be so smitten once they meet you that they'll forgive the fact that you borrowed a model's photo, and that you're 40 pounds heavier, ten years older, and six inches shorter than you claimed, it's also unfair to minimize the extent of what you've got planned thinking that your date will love it so much she'll forgive you. If someone anticipates the standard DAAM, and midway through the drive realizes you're taking her kayaking, it's called highjacking.
People will appreciate the courtesy of your honesty, and your concern for their comfort, far more than they'll appreciate that "surprise" you've got in store for them! Save the surprises for later in the relationship, when you know each other well.
Copyright (c) 2013 by MJ Miller
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