Most married couples can wax poetic all day long about their first date. It was magical and set the tone for their rest of their wonderful lives together. Or whatever. The reality is first dates are awkward and weird and can sometimes be stressful to plan. You already have enough on your plate; don’t let choosing a venue become an issue. So get out there on your Tinders, your OKCupids, maybe meet a girl in person and invite her out (just kidding, that doesn’t happen anymore). And avoid these problem first date spots at all costs.
Anything involving “getting out there” and “doing things”: Bowling, hiking, horse riding (is that what this is called?). These are all first date mistakes. Now, I know the line of thinking here. “But taking a potential mate out on a hike will make me appear to be fit and active and not the guy who ate pizza for breakfast four out of the past five days.” And I applaud that idea, but this isn’t The Bachelor. There is no private helicopter standing by to take you on a wine tour. When it comes to first dates, keep it simple. You want to be able to talk to this girl in a comfortable environment. And so damn much can go wrong at a paintballing field or a ho-down or whatever the fuck people are doing these days. Stick to a cozy bar/restaurant where you can actually, you know, talk.
Super Hip, Speakeasy Bar: Oh wow, you have to walk through a Japanese restaurant, through a secret phone booth and then through a smaller Japanese restaurant to find this bar with no sign? TOTALLY GETTING LAID. These “secret bars” are the most pretentious things on the planet. They serve $18 Manhattans infused with smoke and exotic breast milks, and the bars themselves are packed with people regardless of the fact they are LITERALLY hidden from the public. Speakeasies are a goddamned headache. Choose a bar that at least has a sign.
Dive Bar: There is nothing that stimulates conversation more than that impending fear of getting stabbed by a biker. While your first date spot doesn’t necessarily have to be Michelin rated, it needs to be a few steps up from a bar you have puked in previously. Remember, you are going out right now to get to know this girl. Don’t let the all Skynard jukebox drown out your date’s voice. Class it up!
Super Expensive Dinner: But not too much. You absolutely want to impress your date. But do that through how you look and what you say, not what you pay for. I think a quality dinner at a (groan) “hip” restaurant is a great first date choice. But some $400 meal at a steakhouse comes off as kind of desperate. Most girls might see through taking a semi-stranger out for a meal that costs as much as a vacation. They would probably find it a little weird, because you know, it is. Save the big night out for when you actually have a girlfriend and not a first date. And this may sound controversial (love sentences that start out like that), but this girl may not be the one. A lot of first dates don’t lead to second dates and that’s totally fine. So don’t blow your wad on the first date (metaphorically that is).
Movie!: First dates are all about conversation. So what better way to do that than sitting with your date in a dark room where it’s illegal to talk? Don’t make this mistake. You may be a real film buff and love going to movies on your own time. But movie dates are reserved for farther down the line, when you’re both a little more acquainted with each other’s tastes.
And if you do indulge in a movie date at some point, for the love of god please research the movie. I once took a girl on date numero three and went to see The Descendants with George Clooney. This girl’s mother was recently hospitalized with a serious illness, so I thought a trip to the movies could be the escape she needed. It was Oscar Bait! Plus everyone loves the Cloon Dog, right? NO. NO ONE LOVES THE CLOON DOG. The entire movie (which is good, by the way), is about Cloon Dog’s wife being in the hospital with grave injuries. THE HORROR. This poor girl took it in stride until we left the movie halfway through in tears. Total nightmare fuel.
Conclusion: As stated above, simplicity is the key here. One important thing that no one wants to hear: you have to come in with lowered expectations. You two may not click. Or you may go home with each other for a tantric sex marathon and not emerge from your room for days. The best venue for you two to find out if you’re compatible (at least for a second date) is a comfortable place where the stakes are low. First dates are difficult and awkward enough already, so do not come in at a disadvantage. And if she wants to pick the bar herself, MARRY HER.