Getting to know someone in a forced social setting is awkward. I’m talking about the dreaded D word here – dating. The typical date lineup is usually dinner and a movie, but neither of those activities are appropriate breeding grounds for comfort and/or stimulating conversation. During dinner, you are trying to juggle somewhat intelligent banter with clearing the spinach from your teeth. During a movie, well you aren’t talking at all, so you basically forked over a bunch of cash to sit next to a stranger for 90 minutes and at the end of the evening, they are still a stranger.
Millenials have an especially hard time with first-dates because we’re so used to communicating behind the buffer of a myriad of screens. We craft social interactions (and edit them) that make us look clever and never, ever, ever awkward. This makes us feel extremely vulnerable when out with someone new for the first time. Nope, there is no first-date filter on Instagram.
Also, this generation seems to be less interested in wasting time (or money. Sallie Mae is still on our backs!) with the wrong person. This is why online dating sites are so crafty about their match ups. Why waste your time getting to know someone who doesn’t watch American Horror Story, anyway?
My favorite first date combo is coffee and a walk, because it’s public, I love coffee and walking can lead to running in the other direction if they turn out to be a creeper. But for those struggling to find refreshing, non-traditional first-date opportunities, here are a handful that provide enough distraction so that they aren’t too awkward, but still allow you to get to know each other.
Go grocery shopping.
This was an idea from one of the members on our Lusty Vegan Facebook group, actually. (Thanks, Shane!) Food is important and filling up your carts together can tell you a whole lot about each other. If you’re vegan, this is especially important, because just about every grass-muncher I know is obsessed with food. Also it’s pretty cute and rom-com-esque. You may not get to talk too much during the grocery shop, so I guess it would be a good idea to grab coffee afterwards. If the date sucks, at least you got your grocery shop in. #multitask.
Go to a meet-up group together.
Sometimes going to a new meet-up group (rock climbing, running, face yoga—that’s a real thing you guys) can be nerve wracking by yourself. Trying something new together is always a fun way to get to know each other, and a meet-up group set up is cool because you’re immediately unified in the whole “we’re in this together” mindset, but at the same time, if your date is a total drag there are other people you can talk to.
Plus, even if the date doesn’t work out you’ve broken into a new social group or activity. Make sure it’s something new to both of you; Don’t be that jerk who takes a new date to a swing dance social where everyone else—including yourself—is a master and your date has to make an ass out of themselves all alone.
It’s fall. Pick some fruit or pumpkins.
Apple picking. Hay rides. Lots of flannel outfit options! Instafun, you guys. Date going well and you’re pretty convinced your new love interest is not a murderer? Go back to one of your places and make something out of your new score. Bake a pie or carve a jack-o-lantern. If the date isn’t going well, well at least you got a pumpkin out of it…
Okay, tell me what your go-to first date is, please. Or, tell me about the worst first date you’ve ever had.
I originally wrote this post for www.iEatGrass.com.