A Girls’ Guide to First Dates
When I first got with My Love, I wasn’t very good at dating.
I invited her to the cinema straight from work. We had opted for Water For Elephants, which was full because it was 2-for-1 that day. Thanks to the wonders of cinema scheduling, the next showing was hours later and for one reason or another no other film was suitable (she’d seen it or I didn’t fancy it or it was one we both wanted to see and hadn’t but it wasn’t on at that cinema and was already starting at another picture house which was closer to where we’d just driven from).
So we ended up seeing Insidious. More on that later.
It didn’t start until later, so we went for a wander round IKEA (how very lesbian of us). I’d never seen Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer and proceeded to pretend I was cooking or in the shower like I’d invented the game. I rode the trolley and kept my now girlfriend/then first date entertained by telling childhood stories of our family competition to see who could manage the most fizzy pop refills in the cafe (13) and how I once followed the wrong family round and became lost in a jungle of self-build kitchens and flat pack bookshelves. Years on and I laugh to myself thinking about how one day I might tell our kids about that and how a couple of years later, my Dad, suited and booted, pulled off from the motorway for us all to get a 40p hotdog so that he wasn’t hungry during my graduation ceremony.
Turns out that IKEA’s a place I hold quite close to my heart.
So after a while it was time to trot back to the cinema. I had plastic shoes on and they were rubbing my little toes but I didn’t moan. Much.
Insidious was a terror film and it wasn’t great, but it did make me jump enough to entice Sam’s arm around my shoulders.
I quite like our first date story but with hindsight, had I known this would be our last-ever first date, I’d have done something a bit more … wow.
First dates are so important, because you can only ever have one. So what should you do?
The outdoorsy date
If your date is up for an adventure, what about an activity like Zorbing? Just stay away from those Groupon 2-for-1 deals, because that’s not going to be impressing anyone. If you’re less of a thrill-seeker but still want some fresh air, go for a picnic. Arm yourself with a blanket and some finger-sized snacks (now now!), or keep it simple with champers and strawberries. In case the weather fails you, make sure your front room’s tidy and spend the afternoon with a candlelit indoor picnic, complete with blanket and plastic cutlery.
The creative date
Go pottery painting and decorate a mug for one another. This is a relaxed activity that can be as long lasting or quick as necessary (just in case the chemistry isn’t there!) and you have something to remember it by afterwards. Most pottery painting venues ask you to pick your painted goods up the following week once they’ve been fired in the kiln, which is also a great excuse for a second date!
The beach date
Fish and chips, ice creams, candy floss and amusement arcades — the beach is one of my favourite date places. Just remember your sun cream to avoid looking like a lobster at the end of the day!
The foodie date
Dinner dates have been done a thousand times, but a restaurant is a great place to learn more about someone. So how about mixing it up and going for breakfast instead? You’ll be clearheaded, and if it goes well you can spend the rest of the day together. If mornings just aren’t your thing, go out and skip straight to dessert (no pun intended), you won’t feel bloated and can move on to something else afterwards.
The classroom date
Cookery classes are becoming a cool thing, so find out your date’s favourite cuisine and learn to cook it with her. It’s usually the same price or just a bit more expensive than going for dinner, and it’s much more fun. If cooking’s not your thing, try an alcohol tasting session — if things go well, buy your favourite bottle of plonk to enjoy together the following week.
The spa date
All girls like to be pampered and a spa day is private, intimate and relaxing. Plus, you’re likely to get to spy your date in her bathing suit. Everyone’s a winner!
The shopping date
If money’s tight, don’t think it means you can’t impress your date. Go to your favourite nearby city and play at Pretty Woman. This entails wearing fancy clothes and window shopping; try on clothes you can’t afford and browse items so expensive that even if you could afford them, you wouldn’t buy them. When you know the type of thing your date’s into, part for an hour and each take a tenner to some charity shops to get something to remember the date by. It’s a full day activity, but I bet you’ll talk about it for years to come.
What’s your favourite way to spend a first date? Share your ideas in the comments.
Laura loves tea and cakes and kittens. She’s an obsessive planner, but also rubbish at sticking to plans and a terrible parker (She passed her driving test eighth time, out of sheer luck.) Scribbling’s not her day job but here’s where she does it: I Shout When I Whisper.
Photography by “Marica Melotti”