3 March 2008, 23:31
[Guest post by Audrey.]
“I’m usually nervous around girls, but finally worked up the courage to talk to a girl I like and asked her out. Now we have plans to do something next week, and I have no idea what to do or where to take her. Help!”
It would seem that I caused a furore a little while ago with my article on How To Be A Gentleman, and quite by surprise too. For the longest time, I was of the opinion that guys were just a little scared of using their manners, but I never realised the level this fear had reached. Amongst other things, I covered in that article how to be nice and respectful to a perfect stranger and even break the ice. I’m now being turned to for advice on the next step once you have a girl’s attention: the dreaded first date.
Understandably, preparations for a first date are a time of extreme nervousness and worry. First impressions do, in fact, count. Ask any couple if they remember the instant they saw their partner for the very first time and I bet they remember all sorts of minute details. So of course, you’ll need to make sure you’re looking and smelling your best when the night in question rolls around. However, planning a date actually requires starting at the end and planning backwards, so you first need to work out what you’re going to do and then organise accordingly.
Coming up with some sort of activity is the hardest part. I remember the first time I actually had a date after I got out of a very long term relationship a few years back. It was with a girl I barely knew — we had just met and hadn’t really talked yet. Young and naive, I took her on the regulation dinner-and-movie date and it was such a disaster. There was forced, awkward conversation over a boring dinner at an ordinary café. We sat quite uncomfortably next to each other at the cinema and watched the movie. And predictably, it ended in even more awkward stammering and actions when I dropped her home afterwards. Needless to say, she never returned my phone-call for a second date!
Learn from my mistakes, gentleman! That kind of formal, rigid first-date stuff doesn’t cut it any more, so don’t just dinner-and-movie-date her and think you’re rocking her world! If you think you might like this girl, spend some time seeing what will make the date fun and enjoyable. What is she into? What does she like? You want the date to be fun, it’s as simple as that. As long as she has a good time and you both laugh and enjoy yourselves, it will be a success. This is where some subtle homework will help you out.
Since you’ve asked this girl out, I’m going to assume that you’ve at least had a reasonable amount of conversation with her, and not just blurted out an invite to some random girl at a bar you thought you felt a connection with. I have to say that I wouldn’t recommend pulling out all the stops for a really romantic date with someone you’ve just met. Casually catching up with her away from the flowing alcohol and blaring dance music is a much better way to get to know each other before you decide whether you’d like to spend more time as something more than friends. I think actual dates should be reserved for people you have a proven connection with. And this first, informal step is where you’ll get your inspiration for your real “date”.
I’m frankly a little reluctant to give you the following piece of advice, but in this modern day it is a viable (and very common) option. if you want to learn more about them to make sure a date is going to be special or to draw some inspiration of what they like, you can always have a quick peek at their Myspace or Facebook profile. These sites can be good to double-check their taste in music, beliefs and politics. It can be very useful to look them up and see, for example, that her political or religious views are completely opposite to yours — thus saving you the embarrassment and uncomfortable silences when you actually spend time together. Just try and keep an open mind – opposites attract as they say. Don’t write her off straight away just because she has written something strange like “Recycling sucks!” on her profile. Maybe she’ll open your mind and you’ll learn new things.
Please though, promise me you won’t overdo it and become some psycho online stalker. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a quick poke around to check some details, but it’s something else all together to have snooped around all her photos, memorised her list of favourite authors, checked out her friends and made notes of her in-jokes. Chill out a bit — if you go overboard, sites like these can really kill the mystery. I think the best part of dating someone new and those first few months is getting to learn about them, hearing stories and building a relationship. You get to meet the special people in their lives, discover you both have a secret love of an obscure band, that kind of thing. Doing too much homework is going to completely destroy all of these awesome things, and you’ll come across as a really, really creepy guy — even if it’s just that you were a bit overly enthusiastic.
So, Casanova, still no ideas? Here are some suggestions: maybe there’s something you know she’ll be keen on. And I’d love to hear from the nonpareils and get their tips on great first dates.
Make a picnic and take her to an awesome park in autumn. Eat great food and jump in piles of leaves.
Hire two bikes and find a lake or nice part of the city to ride around (could incorporate the picnic!).
Weather permitting, buy a huge ice cream sundae and share it.
Look up if your city has a ‘Cinema in the Park’ event over summer and let her pick the movie.
If she’s an artistic gal, take her to the local gallery and ask her to pick her favourite pieces.
Buy two tickets for a band that’s coming that you happen to know she likes. Bonus points if you snag an autograph for her!
Whatever you do, just make sure it’s something memorable, interesting and fun. Something that allows her to be herself, while also allowing her to see the real you. Good luck!