By: Ellie M., Sex & Relationships Columnist
The first date just isn’t a requisite these days. It’s not extinct, but the numbers are dwindling. Instead of asking someone on a date, you ask the object of your affection to “hang out.”
Most of them are casual and sneaky — grabbing coffee, getting lunch or going out in a group. Maybe that gets the job done, but does it make an impression? Is it fun? Exciting? Unique?
If you’re going to be tricky about the not-a-date-actually-it-is-let’s-just-not-talk-about-it, at least make an effort.
-She loves cooking or gardening.
Tell her you want to start an herb garden and ask if she wants in. Involve her in the process — take her with you to get supplies, bring her to the library and look for books on gardening. It’s not really about the project, it’s about the fun you can have doing it together.
-He loves sports.
Which sport? All of them? Go to a sports bar to watch a game, or get tickets to one (don’t discount smaller teams). Make a bet — like loser makes or buys dinner for the next date. Casually setting up your next plans on the first date means you won’t be doing that awkward “What do I text him?!” thing the day after.
-She’s an artist.
Have a Bob Ross painting competition at your place with some friends, and award prizes (think dollar store). You get bonus points when she’s left with memorabilia to remind her of spending time with you.
-He’s a writer.
Bring chalk to a place with sidewalks and have a haiku competition. If you’re terrible with words, who cares? You’re just counting syllables, here. Extra points for making passersby rate your work or declare the winner.
-She has a great sense of humor.
Take her to a comedy show! Mad Cowford has shows Fridays downtown, and Sunday night is open mic at Three Layers in Springfield. Do a little research.
Take advantage of the nature trails. Go kayaking or hiking. Wear bug spray. If you really want to be impressive, pack a picnic, too.
Take her to the beach in the morning to go running or do yoga. Go rock climbing or tell her you’d like to try a spin class but a want a friend there for moral support.
-He loves food.
Invite him over to make dinner. If that seems awkward, tell him you want to try a certain dish, but it will be way too much food for you alone. Otherwise, have multiple friends over for a dinner party and ask him if he’ll come early and lend his expertise.
-She loves alcohol.
Take her to a wine or beer tasting. It’s cleverer than going to the beach bars … again. There are plenty of free ones around town (but beware of overpriced appetizers). Don’t forget about Jacksonville’s independent breweries, either.
-He’s always stressed.
Go to a Zen meditation. I’m serious. I went for a comparative religion class my freshman year and was thoroughly impressed and surprised by my ability to sit still and quietly for 30 minutes. After, grab lunch and discuss Nirvana.
You get the idea. Find out what your other-to-be is interested in and turn it into something fun you can do together. If you’re still stuck, or want to do something more traditional, don’t despair — just make the date memorable.
Dinner and a movie are still OK, but take her somewhere neither she nor you have ever been before. Even an awful dining experience can be something to bond over.
Or try a simple twist on a classic. Instead of getting coffee, make some and take her to a park to hang out. Keep events like Art Walk, surf contests or the Riverside Arts Market in mind as easy, fun alternatives. They aren’t too out there, but it’s not the same old thing.
Email Ellie M. at [email protected]