By their nature, first dates are fiddley and fractious affairs. Food can be fraught, drinks can be disastrous, and just what do you talk about? Travel? Hobbies? Sports? Current events? Politics? Religion? Probably not those last two, but when there’s a lull in the talking, just where do you go? After all, I know from personal experience just how awkward first dates can be, especially when MR ‘Boring comes to mind, which while sounds harsh, is very much indicative of how lackluster our first date was. Or what about ‘MR Call Me Daddy’ who still has the ability to make me cringe out today, as I recall just how A. disturbing the first date was looking back and B. how he used BDSM a an excuse to try and exploit young women, which makes me shudder at the very notion. And don’t even get me started on MR Selfish whose first date was all about ‘making him happy’ as opposed to letting me have a say, taking to me a non vegetarian friendly restaurant, which during the short time that we dated after our first date was increasingly apparent, as everything we did was for his benefit and never for mine. I could write an entire book on my awkward first date experiences but as the point of this post is to find you first date activity ideas, it’s best that we leave the f**kboy dragging for another time.
The best option is to make your activity the focus. Find something to do that can be enough of a focus that in the course of getting to know someone, you’ve always got something to be doing, to reduce awkward moments like forced small talk. With that in mind here are ten first date ideas that will offer something for everyone. From bowling to dinner and drinks, who says that traditional first date ideas are anything other than fun? The question is what will you choose?
1. Bowling: For Those Who Want To Laugh At Each Other For Being Collectively Terrible
Now I happen to be excellent at bowling on the Wii (or at least from what I can remember from playing as my 15 year old self) but when it comes to bowling in real life, or any sport in general, I am guaranteed to be pretty terrible. But luckily I am A. not a sore loser and can accept when I am terrible at something, B.I am still competitive anyway even if I know I will lose and C. can still have fun even when being terrible, which makes a great combination for first date activity ideas. With that in mind bowling is a classic sport where no one is ever expected to be “good” so to speak, but everyone knows how to play, and how to have fun while you do it. Plus the great thing about bowling is that even if you are throwing your balls into other peoples lanes- and no that was not a euphemism get your mind out of the gutter- it wont matter because the environment in which you bowl in is a cool space where no one can take themselves too seriously. I always find that a first date which requires some level of competition or team building makes for a great first date idea, as it allows you to both unleash your fun side, as well as getting to know each other better.
Who knows, maybe you’re better at bowling than you thought?
2. Have A Workout: Pump Up The Jam
Now coming from someone whose idea of exercise is running for the train in ridiculously high heels, the notion of me suggesting to have a workout as a first date idea is probably laughable. But hear me out, for those of you who are more fitness inclined than myself and would like to try something new, then a workout class with a potential first date might actually be a lot of fun, especially if it is something like dance or zumba. While I am no Beyonce, there is something rather thrilling about dancing, especially to let your hair down and just have heaps of fun. And when you have a sexy date involved, what’s not to love as you both pump up the jam. And don’t feel self-conscious if fitness is not your strong suit i.e I have never worked out at the gym before, just go with the flow and see what happens. Chances are you will both not have a clue as to what you are doing and that’s ok, in fact clumsy moves are all part of the magic of a first date. It will help you feel closer than ever before. Plus something like a drop-in workout class can be a great place to build up some endorphins and get you and your date’s heart pumping. The experience is always one that loosens you up, and gets you and your date away from that crafted self-image that can so often linger in the first few dates.
3.Mini Golf: Let the Games Begin
If there are two things that you will learn about me it is A. that I am very competitive, and like to win (although I am not a sore loser and can accept defeat) and B. is not someone who gives up easily and even if she is terrible at something will try multiple times before she masters it. At least that philosophy applies to video games, but like most sports I do remember being equally terrible at mini golf, as my foster siblings would revel in mini golf while I would scrunch up my nose and defer to taking my foster sister for walks while the better players carried on playing golf. But while I might not be the best at sports, it does not mean that if a first date suggested it I wouldn’t be game for some mini golf. In fact I have an app which recommended Junkyard Mini Golf to me, which looked rather exciting as a first date idea, so watch this space, a terrible mini golfer is coming to a town near you. AKA me .
So why would Mini Golf appeal to you then if you are not necessarily the most talented golfer? Well A. it is different to just going for dinner and drinks- as much as I love that- and B. noone is going to be focusing on whether you get the ball in or not-again not a euphemism but take it as you will- so chill out Brenda. After all the words “lightly competitive” could float around many of these first date ideas, as mini golf becomes a lovely blend of structure, gaming, and socializing. Plus if you’ve found yourself in a mini-golf establishment with even a modicum of style, the blends of whimsy, wit, challenge, and curiosities in the design will give plenty of conversational fodder. Also, again – no one can take themselves too seriously when sending a tiny florescent yellow sphere down a clown’s fibreglass gullet.
4.Karaoke: Can You Hear The Gargling Cats Again?
For those of us who weren’t blessed with the voice of an angel, hearing someone suggest Karaoke as a first date idea might want to make you cancel your front door and hide under your blanket fort. But Karaoke isn’t meant to be about celebrating those who can actually sing, it’s about letting your hair down and just getting lost in the moment. I used to do musical theatre so I can hold a tune but even the thought of singing on a first date would scare me as I might worry about what they might think of me. But here’s the T, I, we, shouldn’t care about what other people are thinking. After all confidence is key and if you haven’t got the XFactor fake it until you make it. Besides you could do the opposite and sing as badly as you possibly can, which I like to do for a laugh sometimes because I am extra like that. For this one, you need to throw every last modicum of self-consciousness you might possess as far out the nearest window as physically possible. Let’s get the obvious out the way here. No one does Karaoke because they’re good, and if they think they are, that could well be a big red flag – see how they do first. Dissect each other’s performances, pick apart each other’s musical taste, and generally have fun at each other’s expense in a harmless and somewhat romantic way.
And if all else fails and you’re not feeling the chemistry, at least you would have gone outside your comfort zone and had a first date that is different to what you would normally expect.
5. Axe Throwing:Not For The Faint Hearted
Yes it’s a niche one, but for those thrill seekers among us, axe throwing might seem like the perfect first date scenario. After all it is often said that the best way to make a first date work is to share some kind of extreme, harrowing, or otherwise lightly trauma-esque experience. so each to their own. If all goes well on an axe-throwing date, that won’t happen this time, but the simulation of such will definitely be a powerful bonding. Also, watching how someone reacts to the visceral thrill of a heavy metal blade skinning a good inch or so deep into a vulnerable and organically yielding hunk of wood certainly makes for some kind of personality measure. While it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is something to be said about watching someone’s muscles ripple as they work up a sweat, as you look on in glazed stupor.
So when in doubt, wield an axe. Or so the saying goes.
6. Escape Rooms: Who Will Emerge As Puzzle Master?
As someone who is claustrophobic, you would be forgiven for thinking that an escape room would not be my cup of tea. But here’s the thing, most escape rooms are not super tiny, and in fact give you enough space to roam around and to work your puzzle magic. Which makes an escape room a great environment to be able to take a first date to, as it not only acts as a bonding experience, but is also a real test of character, enabling you to test their logic, patience and intelligence. However be sure to double check with your potential partner RE their toleration level for enclosed spaces before you try this, but if they are up for it, these make great first date ideas. The puzzles force a kind of frantic, engaged, and energetic co-operation. If you can get together and creatively work through some of the weirder aspects of what gets thrown at you in these circumstances, you could well have a long future together. And who says that first dates have to be dinner and drinks? As much as I love to eat and drink, wouldn’t it be fun to try something new?
From Game of Thrones to Breaking Bad, some escape rooms are even themed like your favourite TV shows, giving you and your first date the chance to geek out with each other!
7. Volunteering- Philanthropy Shows A Good Heart
Now volunteering might not be the obvious choice that springs to mind when it comes to planning a first date, but think about it, wouldn’t philanthropy show the trueness of someones heart? After all someone who is committed to helping others and has their mind on charitable endeavors, is hopefully someone who would treat you nicely in a relationship too. There are all kinds of socially positive activities that, when done together, can make a great bonding exercise. Help clean up a beach. Host a charity games night. Help on the home building processes with a charity like Hope Builders. Bonding over building the smallest bit of a better life for someone else can be something that really shows you the best side of each other. After all going on a date where I would be helping out at an animal shelter giving love and affection to all the kitties and doggies who need a loving home would be a beautiful first date idea for me, and would show me just how much of an animal lover my beau is too. Giving back to others is something that I hold dearly and so charity work or volunteering would be a great way of sussing out your first dates intentions.
8. Board Game Cafes: Winner, Winner You’re My Dinner
If anyone wants to find out just how competitive I am, just play a Board Game with me, and watch me throw all niceties out the window. I remember going on a first date with someone who I am still seeing/dating several dates down the line, who after taking me to various bars, ended up suggesting that we go to a bar near his called Loading in Dalston, which turned out to be the most fun I had on a date in a long time, as we played games galore such ‘Exploding Kittens’, Connect 4 and Dooble. We established that I was better at games where we made up the rules for them such as Exploding Kittens and Pooping Unicorns whereas he was better with games that actually had rules that we could understand. LOL. Board Game Cafes and Bars are a lot of fun; with successful locations like Thirsty Meeples in Oxford, The Dice Cup in Nottingham, and Proceed Clockwise in Shoreditch, board games are clearly tapping into something lurking deep within the zeitgeist. As a date idea, it’s great because you have instant communication, and it can either be co-operative, if you go down the route of a game like Pandemic or Mysterium, or competitive, in the form of games like Hive, Boss Monster, or Love Letter. Take part in an imagined task together, or see who can read the other best to outwit their way to victory. Most important of all though, find out if they’re a sore loser. Among the most crucial personality red flags of all.
In fact going back to the guy I am seeing/dating, the reason that he took me to Loading is because I had told him that I am competitive and don’t like to lose, so he wanted to see how sore of a loser I was. It turns out that I was actually better at board games than he expected but as he said game bars are a great indicator of personality.
9. Laser Tag: Nostalgia Feels Am I Right?
Gosh the last time I played Laser Tag was when I was about 13 or 14 I believe, and there was a group of us ust running around like headless chickens not knowing what on earth we were doing but still rolling with the punches anyway. So despite not going to a Laser Tag Quest in quite a while, I reckon it would be a pretty fun first date idea, because much Mini Golf, you don’t need to take yourselves seriously and can just goof off and have a right laugh. Besides Laser Tag can be a great team building/trust exercise to determine if your first date is the one for you. After all, can you trust your potential partner to watch your back? Will your leapfrog wall to wall allow you to take all the territory? This is the kind of date where you get to play a game, get an unstructured workout, and have a whole host of stories and moments to swap back and forth over in post-match commentary. You could even record each other goofing around if that’s your thang, as you both fall back in laughter, watching the tweens get super serious, while you both just take the piss. It’s fun to be lighthearted sometimes, especially on a first date.
10. Movie, Dinner And Drinks: Nothing Wrong With Being Traditional
Now this might seem like a traditionalist option, and one that runs all the risks of conversational dead zones that the last nine options have been aggressively working to avoid, but rest assured, there is method to the seeming madness. With careful selection of a movie, and a place to eat and drink with as much ambiance and atmosphere as you can manage, magic can happen. Be ready with your thoughts about the film (make sure you’ve chosen something thought-provoking – much as Marvel’s latest offering might be fun, it may be hard to pull apart usefully), enjoy some signature cocktails, and while the evening away. Or if comedy is your bag, which in my case it is, or you’re both into comic films, again definitely my genre then something like the new Avengers Film might be right up your street. Besides if the date is boring, then at least you will have a great movie to watch, while entertaining yourself with some delicious food and drink.
Where Would You Go On A First Date?