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Trying Internet Dating? Some Good Ideas for First Dates

Image via Photographer Frank Selmo WANA Creative Commons

Image via Photographer Frank Selmo WANA Creative Commons

By Kristen Lamb

By this point, we’ve discussed reasons to consider on-line dating, ways to spot predators, essentials in a profile, how to write a profile, and how to stay safe when first meeting. Today, we’re going to talk about good ideas for the first dates.

Why is this important? First, for safety. Then there is a time consideration. Date choice can be more than about a fun time; it can also be a way to gain valuable information to help you make better choices in who you date.

Back to the Coffee Shop

The first time you meet should be high-visibility and low-pressure. Coffee at Starbucks or a quick mid-week lunch are both great choices. It gives you guys a chance to see if the same spark you felt when you read each other’s profiles is still there in person.

Back when I was dating, there were men who looked like a fabulous choice on paper, but in person? Eh. They didn’t, per se, do anything wrong, just the chemistry wasn’t there. No harm, no foul. Drink coffee or finish your egg rolls, then say good-bye, parting as friends.

If you make that first date a long evening, it puts undue pressure on both of you. Meeting for coffee or lunch makes it easier to relax, thus easier to shine. Also, if things aren’t going so great, mid-day dates are by nature brief, and they also have clear cut-off times.

Movies are Okay, but Bowling is Better

This might be a personal preference on my part, but in my experience, few things reveal more about character than competitive situations. Can the person just have fun? Is she uptight and too serious, or can she play? Is he a good sport? Or a sore loser? If your date throws the golf club when he misses the final hole at Putt-Putt? RUN.

I once went bike riding on a date, only to have him speed off ahead without me, and then later gripe that I didn’t keep up (of course he failed to appreciate that he was on a racing bike and I was riding a mountain bike). People can say anything. What they DO is far more important.

One of the ways I “tested” my husband-to-be was I taught him how to play first-person-shooter games. First of all, the fact that Shawn was willing to learn something new that he didn’t “get” spoke volumes. We played a lot of video games early in our courtship.

Let me tell you, a guy who won’t share ammo is not worth dating, let alone marrying. To this day, my hubby and I play FPS games together every evening and we’re an amazing team whether shooting bad guys or changing diapers.

Competitive situations are more revealing than dinners and movies. Does the person leave you behind, get impatient, or yell? How does he win? How does he lose? Does he share? Does he help you even if it costs his “win”? Is he a team-player or a glory-hog?

Does she whine when she doesn’t do it perfectly the first time? Does she pout when she gets too many gutter-balls?  Is she more concerned about her hair, nails or outfit than having fun? Do you feel like her date or her babysitter?

Fun at the Fair

After you’ve made it past the coffee-date and maybe a dinner-date or two, try a fair or a festival. Check your local listings and see what’s going on in your community. Likely you can find fun events that can fit any budget.

Why fairs and festivals?

First of all, they’re low pressure. At dinner, we can feel like we have to make every moment interesting. Fairs and festivals have lots of fun things to do and see where talking isn’t required. This mixes up the experience. Go play a round of Ring-Toss or wander off to a bench to chat.

Fairs have a fun environment that encourages play. Again, this is a good way to watch how your date interacts with others. Does he pick a fight with the guy who cuts in line? Or does he laugh and brush it off, seeing it as an opportunity for more time to talk with you?

Not all fairs have to be silly or targeted to kids. There are chili cook-offs, horse or car shows, art fairs, and music festivals. Share a funnel cake while browsing the works of local artists.  Hold hands on a blanket while listening to a local blues band. Fairs are a wonderful place to bond as a couple and create the first memories of your relationship.

Overall, try to keep it light. It’s a date, though it can feel like a job interview. Smile, have fun and play. Remember, couples who play together stay together.

***

Kristen Lamb is the author of the #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.  Feel free to follow her weekday blog or find her on Facebook and Twitter. Kristen is the C.E.O. of WANA International and the founder of the social site for creatives, WANATribe.

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