date ideas holding hands whole and broken hearts
Illustration by Lauren Wood, The Ohio State University
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date ideas holding hands whole and broken hearts
Illustration by Lauren Wood, The Ohio State University

Here are some ways to avoid disaster on a first date.

It’s 2022 and the world of dating has taken on a whole new persona in the digital age. Because of dating apps and social media, single people are now going on more blind dates than ever before. With all the options out there, it’s time to cut to the chase and weed out the people that just aren’t going to work. Many first dates might include a movie or live music at a restaurant, but those types of dates don’t really allow daters to get to know each other. Just because a couple enjoyed the same band or movie doesn’t mean they will be compatible. Below are some anti-recommendations for first dates that are sure to ruin any potential relationship — or they just might save some time by finding the right person.

The first terrible date idea is an exercise class. This may seem like an obvious choice to avoid because, for most people, exercise is a chore. Who wants to hang out in a room full of sweaty strangers, including your date, while you pretend that you’re actually not winded by very simple exercises? And then there’s the issue of where you go after your class. It seems silly to just shake hands and part ways afterward, but it also seems unreasonable for a couple covered in sweat to head off to a bar for some post-workout drinking. A better date plan might be instead to go on a hike with a picnic in a local, populated park. The opportunity to gauge fitness level is still there while also providing the opportunity for conversation and food.

Another awful date idea is anywhere that the food is messy. Barbecue joints, wing places, those seafood restaurants where you get the bag of seafood plopped down on the table next to a bucket and no utensils — all terrible places to go on a first date. Sometimes, going to these places with the people you love can be a wild ride but sitting across from a stranger, elbows deep in dripping sauce, sounds like a thing born of dating nightmares. Messy restaurants are expert-level dates you want to go on at least a few months in after you’ve seen someone with a cold and decided that you can tolerate them at their neediest.

If you’re looking for food adventures, an alternative plan might be to find a locally owned restaurant featuring a food you have both never tried. You still get the amazing food experience and going through unfamiliar tastes together is a fun way to get to know someone and see how much patience they have for new experiences.

A date to avoid at all costs is an invitation to an open-mic night. Whether it be karaoke, improv, slam poetry or any other form of self-expression, decline this first-date invitation. In the immortal words of Admiral Ackbar: It’s a trap. Your blind date is surely trying to promote themselves. What if you get to the venue and your date performs and you end up loving their original song, comedy piece about their fraternity brothers or slam poem about the rainforest — does that sound like a realistic outcome? No, it doesn’t. Someone who invites a first date to these kinds of places is looking for a fan, not a partner. There’s probably not even a better date idea to suggest for this type of date; just decline and move on.

The final date type to avoid is chain restaurants and bars. This may seem like an obvious date idea, tried and true. And therein lies the problem. They’ve been done before and these spots have been used for first dates so many times that they just blend into one another. It’s hard to not be robotic when you’re on the same date you’ve been on many times before. There’s no real way to judge the person sitting across from you except to compare them to the last person that was sitting across from you. Traditionally, this date is just an infomercial where you and your date are cautiously releasing good information while withholding red flags that might be dealbreakers.

Instead, it’s time to mix it up with something new and exciting. A great alternative is an escape room. There’s brand new scenery in an escape room and instead of listening to your date tell you all the things they want you to know, an escape room offers you a peek into their intelligence, how they handle stress, and if they know just enough trivia to help you escape the lab of a mad scientist. Personalities really shine through under the intensity of competition and being on the same team allows couples to see how well they work together.

Dating in 2022 doesn’t have to be boring or repetitive. There are tons of great date ideas out there that are fun and exciting, so even if your date isn’t your cup of tea, you still end up with a memorable time and an interesting evening. When the focus of dating is on having a fun time rather than finding a life partner, it doesn’t have to be scary or a chore. Find ways to connect with the people you’re seeing through fun experiences rather than shallow, boring conversation. Look for local opportunities like art classes, bingo games, trivia nights or haunted houses. You might even find new interests and hobbies even if your date fizzles out. Lastly, it’s important to stay safe so share with a trusted friend or family member information about your date and where you are going.

Writer Profile

Megan Miller

Arizona State University
English/History

Megan has lived her whole life in Southern California where she enjoys all the local attractions, especially the beaches. She enjoys reading, writing and cooking. She is obsessed with her dog, Moose.

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