Dating 101

Location location location: How to pick a place for the perfect first date

Where you meet on a date can be quite a tricky decision. You don’t know this person very well — you may not even have spoken on the phone — so you won’t be quite sure of their taste. There’s no duller a question than ‘where do you like to go out?’ on email or on the actual date, but sometimes it’s good to get an idea of where these people socialise, as you can usually get a pretty good handle on what kind of person they are. Unless they’re a stupid show-off who relies on dreadful style magazines to choose their outlets of entertainment.

Inner turmoil comes in an instant when the choice of first date venue is left to me. It’s so easy to get wrong. What if it’s too busy? What if the weather turns bad? Perhaps they’re a former alcoholic so suggesting meeting where there’s a 2-4-1 on Absinthe may turn out to be quite a different evening from your expectations. So where should you go? What should you do?

Activity dates
For me, these are a no-no for your first date. Someone who suggests cycling or climbing a wall or perusing a market is being insensitive to your interests. But you’ll be too polite to decline. I mean, you’re so rubbish at talking to other humans that you’re on an online dating website; you’re hardly going to shout down your date’s choice of activity, are you?

Also, if you’re so busy concentrating on being enthusiastic for your date’s favourite hobby, what kind of conversation are you going to have? Where’s the bar? What if you decide you don’t like him halfway up the wall? Do you push him off? Jump? Both?

Walks in the park
Generally, these aren’t a great idea either. Walking side-by-side usually means that you won’t be looking at each other very much. This is great if he looks like Plug from the Bash Street Kids but if you want to eye-flirt or tease him with your wry smiles, there’s a good chance you’ll trip up and fall into a duck pond while you give him the eye.

Additionally, and I don’t want to worry you, parks don’t always have a lot of people around. If things turn a bit weird and he suddenly bites the head off a passing squirrel, you’re going to want some rescuers. Plus side to park walking that if it starts to rain you can hide in a bandstand and start ripping each other’s clothes off. But that only happens in books, and you’re not in a book. Yet.

Dinner
This can be a good idea, but I would usually hang on and have the dinner date a little further down the line. If your choice of restaurant for the first date has been a mis-step, you will be JUDGED by your date. If they choose a restaurant which hopes to impress you but has actually failed miserably, you will never see him in the same light. Plus the issue with slurping pasta/ pulling heads off prawns/ ordering extra portions of chips etc.

9 1/2 Weeks aside, no-one ever got *that* turned on by watching someone eat a surf ‘n’ turf burger with garlic mayo chips. Seriously.

Pub
Yeah, well, it has to be the pub then. Oh come on, I’m not even go to talk about cinemas or bowling because we are in our THIRTIES now. So, the pub it is. Choose somewhere relatively neutral. Avoid the wanky style bars or those incredibly earnest gastropubs which actually think they’re Michelin-starred restaurants or hubs of the community.

A good idea can be to meet at a station relatively convenient to both and then decide together. That way, you can laugh about your shared bad decision when you inevitably accidentally end up in a Wetherspoon pub nose-to-nipple with a slew of tattooed neanderthals and screaming harpies.

The main YES about going to a pub is the prospect of alcohol: the oil that lubricates the wheel of conversation and, hopefully, if that’s what you’re looking for, increases your chances of seeing a LOT more of your date.

Mine’s a pint.

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