Great First Dates

Alison Manheim

First dates are rough. You have to risk embarrassment, obsess over fresh breath, and sometimes even foot the bill for dinner and a movie. Ouch! We feel your pain.

Here's the good news: a first date doesn't have to be a pins and needles experience. It doesn't even have to cost very much, as you'll see. I've hounded my co-workers and gotten them to cough up their best first dates. We hope they inspire you.

But first, here are some guidelines for a planning a first date.

  • Make it short. If there's no chemistry, you don't want to be stuck with someone all day. Choose an activity that can be accomplished in two or three hours.
  • For the same reason, don't go somewhere so isolated that you can't take off when you've had enough. Forget about that all-day cruise around the city, for example. If the date isn't going well, your only recourse is to jump overboard.
  • If you're self-conscious about your bod, keep your clothes on during a first date. Do you really need to show your potential partner all the merchandise immediately? Unless you're completely confident about your body (and who really is?), choose an activity in which you don't have to strip down to participate. Stay away from beaches and pools. Hey, to be on the safe side, avoid any body of water.

Great Dates

Elizabeth: "On our first date, my boyfriend took me hiking and packed a lunch with all my favorite foods. It was totally sweet considering that he went out and bought the ingredients to make my favorite sandwich (none of which were on his usual grocery list): tomato, avocado, alfalfa sprouts and Swiss cheese on whole wheat bread."

Why it's a great date: Hiking is not only great exercise, it's a low-cost activity, and the quiet and privacy of being out on a trail provides a perfect environment to get to know someone. And picnics are always romantic.

What's the takeaway: While hiking can be a great first date, all that privacy might not be a great idea if it's a blind date or a date with someone who isn't already part of your social scene. Use common sense before heading out into the woods with a complete stranger. Make sure someone knows where you're going and whom you're going with. And don't forget the sunscreen.

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