When you’re going on a first date, you’ve got unlimited options for dates, and no shortage of bad first date ideas. What’s most important when you’re heading on a first date is some kind of activity both of you enjoy. I generally advise guys to plan activity dates for two simple reasons: They allow you two to get to know one another without forcing you to talk the entire time, and they create a shared experience from the get-go.
A date where the two of you can’t get to know each other isn’t much of a date. On the other hand, being forced to stare at each other like you’re on a job interview can quickly get awkward.
I’m firmly of the opinion that almost anything can be a killer date. If it’s something the both of you like doing alone, there’s a good chance the two of you are going to enjoy doing together. That said, there are some things that just never make for a good first date. You can start breaking some of these out around the fourth date or so, but when you’re just getting started, here are seven bad first date ideas to definitely avoid.
Dinner Dates: Like Job Interviews For No Job
Dinner is the staple first date, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why. At some point someone decided that this is just what you do on a first date. Whoever decided that couldn’t have been more wrong, however, as this ranks among the baddest of the bad first date ideas. This ranks as just about the worst first date you can go on.
Why This Doesn’t Work: You’re forced to interact too much. It doesn’t matter how much you like each other at first. It’s too much too soon. It’s a lot like going on a job interview more than a date. If the conversation falls flat there’s nothing to do but stare at your plate and hope the awkwardness passes. Make no mistake about it, just about every dinner first date gets awkward at some point. This can turn what was white hot attraction yesterday into a great big “meh.”
What to Do Instead: Just about anything. But if you’re both really into food a great alternative to the dinner date is to go somewhere way more casual — like a hole-in-the-wall stand-up place — or to cook food together. It allows the two of you to communicate, but also offers a task to concentrate on. What’s more, shared tasks create rapport between people. But only do this if you’re both comfortable being at someone’s house. It’s less awkward than dinner, but far more intimate.
Movies: The Best Way to Learn Nothing About Your Date
Going to see a movie on a first date is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the dinner date. If a dinner date gets you too up close and personal, a movie can actually drive you further apart. It’s just as bad of a misstep on the first date.
Why This Doesn’t Work: You’re not going to get any chance to get to know one another, which is what a first date is all about. You’re going to sit in silence the whole time. Even if you have other parts of the date planned you’re going to kill the momentum by sitting in a dark room with her for two hours. This is more something you do with a girl that you’re dating on the regular rather than something you do with a girl on the first date.
What To Do Instead: Much like dinner, the answer here is just about anything… except dinner, obviously. But what can movie lovers do instead? You might try and see if there’s a famous shooting location near you or if there’s a movie star’s grave within driving distance. But that type of excursion might not be enough to carry a first date. So I’d advise you to find something else the two of you like that facilitates conversation about film while you do something else.
Family Stuff Takes It Way Too Seriously
It might sound strange, but I hear about guys doing this. Mom prepares dinner or you swing by at a big family gathering or tote your first date along to some kind of family function. I mean, I’ve heard guys talk about bringing a first date to their sister’s wedding. Talk about your bad first date ideas!
Why This Doesn’t Work: Too much, too soon. Think about it: How would you feel if a girl asked you to get together some time and told you that you’d be meeting her father. It would throw you off. It would make things awkward. It would put you on the defensive. What’s more, you’d have every reason to feel like things were a little bit off. You’d probably wonder why there wasn’t someone else available.
What To Do Instead: As a general rule, it’s good to just have it be you and her on a first date. You want to show her that you’re interested in having some one on one time with her — and you want to do it in a way that’s appropriate for two people just getting to know one another. Skip the family function and ask her out some weekend when you’re completely free.
Group Activities With Your Friends: The High-Pressure Date
I am totally a huge proponent of group activities. In fact, I throw a pool party once a month where I invite all kinds of people. It’s a great time, but it’s not a first date.
Why This Doesn’t Work: It’s really not that much different from introducing her to your family on a first date. After all, friends are basically the family that you choose. If a dinner date can feel like a job interview, a group activity with your friends as a first date can be like a performance review. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how cool and open your friends are. She’s going to feel like they’re judging her; And let’s be honest — they probably are.
What To Do Instead: There’s plenty of time for you to meet her friends. A date is about the two of you connecting with one another. Much like your family, you want to take her somewhere so that you two can spend time together. A good alternative to this for guys who are nervous about one on one? Hit up an art gallery, or something that allows the two of you to physically separate a bit on the date. Then, if you’re feeling up to it afterward, ask her to join you for a drink somewhere.
Your House Is Phoning It In
Obviously, this is something every guy has done at least once a first date. Rather than making it a date, he asked her to “come over” to “hang out.” But that’s not a good first date once you get out of high school.
Why This Doesn’t Work: “Come over and hang out” is basically you saying to her that you’re not interested enough in her to think of something fun for the two of you to do together. It’s showing the least amount of interest possible in a girl. It also signals a certain expectation early on. It doesn’t matter if you don’t see it that way. It’s how she’s going to see it and she’s not going to be a fan.
What To Do Instead: A walk in the park costs the same as hanging out at your house, and it can still be a great experience. It also provides way more opportunity to get to know one another without stressing out your date too much. In fact, walking side by side is often way more conducive to conversation than staring at one another.
The Mall Makes You Into a Walking Wallet
Believe it or not, I’ve talked to more guys than I care to recall who took girls on a first date to the mall. They usually end up spending a ton of money on her and basically being her shopping rack for the evening.
Why This Doesn’t Work: Pretty obvious, right? The mall just isn’t an inspiring locale for your first hang-out. Malls are sterile, busy, impersonal. They’re designed to accommodate most people, rather than creating unique experiences for her.
What To Do Instead: You might be surprised to hear that the shopping date isn’t always a bad thing. Hitting up a cool used bookstore, for instance, can be a killer first date, especially if the two of you are introverted and bookish. Tell her to go find a book she loved from her childhood, a book she loved in high school and a book she loves today. You do the same. You’re going to find out a ton about each other just from this simple exercise. Lots of bookstores now double as restaurants or cafes, which makes it a fun option in most cities.
Open Mic Night: Save Your Performances for Later
Why This Doesn’t Work: Cringe. Double cringe if you’re the one performing. Most acts at open mic nights are not great. If you’re the one performing, wait for her to ask you to come check out your act some time.
What To Do Instead: Take her to a real performance by a professional. This can be tricky. On the one hand, most concerts and performances don’t allow for a lot of interaction and time to get to know one another. Still, if the two of you head out to a bar where there’s some kind of performance going on, you can hang in the back and get to know each other in between acts or even in between songs or routines. Make sure you two are having your moment within the larger event.
Like I said: A good first date can be just about anything. But there are some places and situations that just make for bad first date ideas. What first dates have you gone on that have been a total bust? I’m curious to know what other places men have gone to that just didn’t seem to work out for them. Leave a comment and let us know.