Why Dinner and a Movie Make for a Poor First Date

The most common ideas for a first date are also some of the worst.  Take the classic “dinner and a movie” date.  If you’re planning to take a girl you just met to a fancy dinner followed by a movie, you could be setting yourself up for a terrible first date.  To see what makes this combination so disastrous, and learn what you should do instead, read on.

The time commitment

Poor First DateDinner and a movie is a big time commitment.  You are essentially asking her to block off 3- 4 hours to spend with you.  That’s a lot to ask when you don’t even know each other yet, and may deter her from saying “yes” to your invitation in the first place.  And even if she does say yes there’s a lot of pressure to keep the date constantly stimulating, or you run the risk of having it “drag on”.  And the last thing you want is her looking at her watch waiting for the date to end.

So rather than scheduling a date that takes all night a good idea for a first date is to plan to meet up for just 60-90 minutes.  That way neither of you will feel pressured to fill a large gap of time with constant stimulation.  Instead of running the risk of having things “drag on”, you’re more likely to leave her wanting more.  (And if you really hit it off you can always offer to extend the date and spend more time together.)

The cost commitment

A nice dinner followed by a movie can cost you somewhere around $75-$100, and sometimes a whole lot more.  That could be a big financial commitment for a girl you don’t really know.  Especially if you are dating around and possibly going on multiple first dates a week.  If that’s the case, spending that kind of money on every date may prove unsustainable.

A better idea for a first date is to pick an activity that’s cheaper – even free.  Go for a hike, a picnic, or maybe invite her over and cook dinner together.  There are plenty of enjoyable ways to get to know one another that won’t set you back financially.

(Oh, and if you’re thinking you’ll take her out and just split the tab – think again.  If you invite her out it’s your job to take care of her.  Splitting the bill is something friends do, and that’s not the message you want to send).

The problem with dinner

Taking a girl out to a fancy dinner isn’t one of the best ideas for a first date.  In that environment you are stuck trying to force conversation and create chemistry out of thin air.  So there is always that chance you will just wind up staring uncomfortably at one another across the table for a good chunk of time.  (And if you are in a fancy restaurant that’s unlike the places you normally visit, then that feeling of discomfort is going to be magnified.)

Instead of just taking the woman out to dinner take her on an activity date.  Ease the pressure of having to maintain constant stimulating conversation by doing something fun.  That way you can shift your focus to an outside activity and let conversation arise more naturally.  (Some examples of good activity dates can include taking the girl mini golfing, or checking out an improv comedy show.)

The problem with the movie

The whole idea of a first date is to get to know one another better.  To see if there is any chemistry and if it’s worth getting together for a second date.  How on earth will you be able to determine if there is chemistry and if the two of you are a good fit if you are not interacting and both just staring at a screen?

No matter what first date idea you wind up going with, make sure that you’re actually able to talk to one another throughout the date.  And while you’re conversing, avoid the mistake many guys make of peppering her with “interview” style questions.  Moving from question to question in an effort to gather “facts” about the girl’s life isn’t going to make an engaging conversation.  Instead, ask questions that have a stronger emotional component so you can really get a feel for who this woman is (and not just what she does).  For example, you may want to find out what kinds of activities she does just for fun, what it is about her job she loves, or what she would do with her time if she never had to worry about money.

Other problems with movie dates

Aside from the whole “not talking or connecting” thing there are a few other problems with the movie date.  For one, the entire quality of your date depends on the quality of the movie.  If the movie sucks, the date will probably suck, too.  Plus, you may wind up having that running monologue in your head, where you’re wondering “Should I put my arm around her?  Rest my hand on her leg?  Hold her hand?”  If you are feeling anxious about what you should be doing, she’s going to pick up on that anxiety.  It will make her feel more anxious and neither one of you will enjoy the date.

But if you pick an activity date where you have the chance to talk and connect with one another, you won’t have to worry so much about breaking that touch barrier.  You can mix touch in seamlessly with your conversation, touching her briefly on the arm, shoulder, and back as you talk.  This will come in handy later on because by getting comfortable with touch in the beginning, it will be easier and feel more natural to take things to the next level when and if the time comes.

More ideas for a first date

For more ideas for a first date, click here.

Brian M - author of 191 posts on The Art of Charm

Once he realized attraction was something he could learn, Brian spent way too much of his free time studying and practicing everything he could find on the subject. He stumbled across The Art of Charm podcast and eventually signed up for an AoC bootcamp. Excited by the progress he's made in his own life since the program, he decided to start writing for AoC to help other guys do the same. By writing about interpersonal dynamics, he’s finally able to put that psychology degree to good use.

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