Dating takes bravery, stamina, hope, belief and ideally, ingenuity. Otherwise, one can potentially slip into the half-resigned, lobotomized indifference of "Woopeee…another dinner and a movie." And truly, there is no surer way to kill the precious emerging bud of romance, than to dread your engagement right from the start.
Which brings us to this article. You want to give this person a chance don't you? More specifically, you want to distinguish between the debatable activity and the debatable person. And at the very least, you don’t want to waste your time and hard-earned dineros! For the love of Pete, plan something cool that you personally will love doing! So from now on, no more predictable, so-so plans.Stand tall, dear dating reader, and breathe in the fresh, exhilarating air of New Ideas For Your Next Date.
Note to reader. When choosing your new activity, you must ask yourself one single question: What purpose is this date serving? For every date you plan – whether it’s a first date or a 12th date, you have a desired outcome; a goal for the growing relationship. Let’s call it a Date Goal. The following ten date ideas each fall under a Date Goal:
Date Goal #1:New and unpredictable conversation
You want to explore this new person further – his mind – her taste - his dislikes – her passions. But you’re not sure where to take the conversation next. You need a museum.
And really – when was the last time you took an afternoon to GO to the latest exhibition in your city? You can even find deals: matinee rates, promotional days, gallery openings (free wine and cheese!)Just a 3 minute internet search will do the trick. Take your intriguing new honey to a walk-in conversation starter. Be it prehistoric animals, modern art, or the history of textiles throughout Europe, you will be sure to uncover surprising facets of this person next to you.
Alternatives: Art Gallery/Exhibition/Installation
Date Goal #2: Take the pressure off
You need a break from dinners.A respite from having to stare each other dead in the face and act like you're totally cool with it. A pause from dark theatres where you're sometimes not sure what to do. (Do I lean on him? Take her hand? Make sure we don’t actually touch?) You need a silly physical activity. You need mini-golf.
Mini golf gets you out of your head. No time to think about how whether your hair looks good – or if you have food in your teeth - when you’re whacking a small white ball through the sails of a windmill. And by the way, mini golf in particular is an excellent way to get your giggle on. I don’t care how good you are. Everyone looks ridiculous playing mini-golf. Excellent fodder for great laughs.Best place to be, to take the pressure off.
Alternatives: Tennis (this option works much better if you’re a terrible tennis player); Batting Cage (same applies here); Cooking class (broaden your horizons! Get messy!)
Date Goal #3: Explore your new mate’s politics
Either you’ve agreed on everything for weeks – perhaps months – and you’re ready to rock the boat – or you’re on Date #1 and you want to cut to the chase. The following activities – when proposed (or arranged secretly)– will illuminate distinct elements of your sweetie’s personality and political leanings:
- visit your local farmers' market - OR - pick-it-yourself type farm!
- attend a lecture at a local university (social-political; anthropological - topic up to you!)
- spend an afternoon together volunteering at a soup kitchen
Date Goal #4: Explore your new mate’s stamina: How far will your honey go for love?
Now, this goal isn’t entirely fair. I’m not an advocate of arranging a date as a kind of test. Better: imagine this date as The Amazing Race. You and your partner are in this together. You must slay this dragon as a team. What doesn’t kill your relationship will make it stronger. Take up this challenge; attend one of the following together:
- a concert symphony
- a play (preferably nineteenth century European drama)
- a lecture at a local university
Alternatives: A football game; a car show; a four-hour opera.
Date Goal #5: Spend the afternoon with your prospective partner AND your kid(s).
This is an important one, needless to say. You really want this day to go well; light; easy; stress-free. You need a plan that is flexible and open to interpretation, moment to moment. Say no to Chuck E. Cheese! You can do far better. Depending on the age of your child(ren), you either need an all-consuming family activity, or an easy-going, open setting. It all comes down to group crafts, or sight-seeing in nature.
Group crafts, you ask? Look no further than a pottery-painting shop! (Eg. Color Me Mine) Bond as a family through art!
What’s “Sight-seeing in nature”, you are thinking? Visit your local greenhouse, or botanical gardens! Bond as a family through outdoor exploration!
Date Goal #6: Spice things up.
You want to be alone together. You want to build intimacy. All kinds of possibilities:
For classic romance: a picnic & refreshing beverage at on a secluded beach. The more secluded the better. It’s been done before – but it’s such a good one.
And speaking of picnics, food can be a fantastic aphrodisiac. Choose your food well, then plan a picnic just about anywhere. A park; a ridge; a riverside. Allow at least 4 hrs, then keep your evening open afterward….
For relaxing fun: organize a couples massage! This can be relaxing….or inspiring…
Alternatives: A visit to a sex shop.
Date Goal #7: Get Zen / Shut up for a date.
Sometimes a couple needs to allow the date to be bigger than them. Stop talking and planning, and simply partake in the beauty of the world together. Take a hike.
Alternatives: An afternoon bike ride; a motorcycle trip.
Date Goal #8: Surprise your new mate on their birthday.
This one may require 3–5 dates prior, but there are no hard and fast rules. This date requires simple listening. When you suspect that your darling’s birthday is approaching, pay close attention to what he or she mentions: favorite music, beloved authors, travel interests, special hobbies.
A simple effort in any direction mentioned by your sweetie, will make for a birthday he or she will always remember:
- A scarf from the country she’d like to visit
- a CD of music he mentioned
- tickets to a concert she talked about
- a piece of artwork / an exhibition by the painter / sculptor he adores
The point of this date goal is to give it a little effort. Some thought and a few phone calls will do the trick. It’s worth it for love.
Date Goal #9: A new take on Valentine’s Day
Why does Valentine’s Day always creep up on us so quickly? This poor day is the greatest victim of the sneaky Dinner-and-a-Movie fate. Allow me to echo the advice of Date Goal #8: “The point of this date goal is to give it a little effort. Some thought and a few phone calls will do the trick. It’s worth it for love.”
New Valentine’s Day options:
- Valentine’s Day Breakfast! Early morning espresso with warm baked goods; a pre-work stroll with danishes and fresh o.j - definitely original.
- A drive to a secret destination with a treat – or bottle of something nice. (Champagne under the Hollywood sign! Cookies and hot cocoa on a rooftop, under the stars.)
- A picnic right in your own living room; great music + take-out or a homemade meal (her favorite) in the middle of the floor. Unforgettable magic.
Date Goal #10: Stand out from the others: Prove you’re ‘The One’.
Do any of the above.
If you’ve put time and thought into any of these suggested ideas, you are definitely showing that you are worth his / her attention. You are proving in your actions that you want to go the extra distance for this person. Ain’t nothin’ more irresistible! (And more fun for you, along the way!) By listening, thinking it through, planning it out, you are becoming ‘The One’. You’re building a great relationship already. Bravo to you. Three cheers to Love.