When I think back to my favorite first dates, the ones that still pop out at me were unique, fun and inexpensive, as well as a great way to get to know my date better and determine if there would be a second. Interestingly, all of my fantastic first date stories became good friends, many of which I still talk to ten or more years later. Anecdotal perhaps, but I can't help but think there's some validity to the "bond over shared experiences" type of thinking, and therefore, a first date is an opportunity to create something memorable and special for everyone, even if the relationship doesn't progress into romance.
I've kept everything on this list purposely inexpensive, because, if you're trying to meet someone special, you may well be having several first dates a week. You could of course wow your potential partner with showy feats of expensive taste, but wouldn't it be nice if they appreciated you for you, and not your money (or lack thereof in the case of the romantic starving artist)?
Tourist in Your Own Town
A recent first date found me touring a community I wasn't familiar with, and I found myself commenting several times throughout the evening, "Wow, I feel like I'm in a new world!" My date not only took the time to show me some new and interesting things I wouldn't have known about otherwise because of how his work related to the area, but he'd made sure beforehand that I'd be game for a walking tour. We stopped impulsively, read every plaquard explaining why a park, path or water feature was named as such, and even came across a bank that looked more like a chic internet cafe. You could easily do the same thing with an underrated or hidden gem in your community; a quick phone call to your local Chamber of Commerce or community business association will reveal nuggets of information and ideas for your perusal.
Learn Something New
I've been on dates where we've made our own wine, learned how to salsa dance, gone urban splelunking, attended a hands-on glass blowing workshop, and immersed ourselves in another culture and language. All were romantic, fun, and I learned a tremendous amount about myself and my date in a non-boring way. Basically, we didn't have to spend the entire time looking over our coffees or drinks, wondering what to say, because we were busy exploring something new, together. Ask your date what they've always wanted to learn, try, explore or visit, and then see how you can make it happen - even on a small scale.
Ever been given $5, and told to forage at a yard sale or thrift store for the "perfect" gift for your date? I have, and the things we bought each other told more of a story about the person purchasing the gift than receiving it, and we've referred to those items for years afterwards as our own, private joke. Another twist on this idea is to compete in a sporting event (geocaching? kayaking? bowling?), or create a personal treasure hunt where you alternatively have to find clues around town that reveal something about your date, as well as your final destination.
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