In these days of Tinder swiping and hookups, dates can almost seem like an anachronism. And yet, good first dates live so strongly in our romantic imaginations. Blame it on the ubiquity of the rom-com if you’re cynical or on that fluttery feeling you get in your belly if you’re romantic, but there’s just something so awesome about first dates. Personally, I love the slightly old-fashioned nature of actually going out on a date — although, as I’ve recently learned, not all first dates are so old-fashioned.
Take, for example, my friend who told me about the time he was invited by a photographer he’d just met to go take pictures at a wedding in upstate New York for the weekend. Or the epic first date I once had that involved meeting up in Central Park and then heading out to Queens to an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and then to the Louis Armstrong Museum, where we happened to see a jazz band up from New Orleans who walked through the house playing their instruments in homage to the jazz legend. The best first dates don’t have to end up with a relationship or even in bed — they stand on their own as awesome experiences that you can recount for years after.
So if you love first dates as much as I do, keep reading for some awesome first date stories.
1. Melanie, 25
We met for brunch, which is the best first date idea for someone you already kind of know. I actually wasn't sure if we were on a date until he offered to pay for the meal. I agreed only if I could buy us ice cream for dessert. Our brunch date turned into a day-long excursion around Brooklyn, just talking and enjoying each other's company. I was pretty smitten.
2. Adrienne, 30
We met at a park in Mountain View on Sunday, two days after we first met. Got the parks confused so I had to go searching for him and he was on the slide. He asked me to go to a spot on the Bay -- it's right at the Google campus and it's where people go to fly their drones. But I didn't want to get in the car with him right away so I convinced him to go back to the first park with the sundial and the Japanese tea garden thing, where you rake through the sand? It’s supposed to be meditative.
So we raked the sand until I realized he wasn't an axe murderer and then got into his car, where I saw he had a little red stuffed cow by the gear shift. I named her Cindy, short for Cinnamon, because she is bright red, like a red hot candy.
He took me to the Google place to fly kites and it was windy and there were lots of drones and it smelled a bit marshy, like sulfur. But it was really sexy to fly a kite, kind of like in the movies when the dude teaches the preppy girl to play golf, like “It's all in the hips.”
Then we went back to downtown Mountain View and I bought a journal at a bookstore (which felt like a good omen, like the start of something new) and ate Mongolian BBQ which was kind of gross and def not romantic. Then we kissed in the car, which should have happened while we were flying the kite but neither of us are very smooth.
3. Erin McKelle, 20
It was with my last boyfriend, who I met casually for coffee on our first date, not thinking much would come of it. We shut down the coffee shop we talked for so long and then he took me to a fabulous dinner at a Thai restaurant. Then, we went to a nearby park, but it started to rain, so we took cover in a gazebo. Then we made out and cuddled in the gazebo for hours! It was magical and lasted until after midnight.
4. Aurora, 29
He came into my life like a flashbulb — all at once, brightly and instantaneously present —he wore his hair in a vertical curly pile on top of his head. We met at a cafe called Mojo, where we sat next to each other and started talking. I liked him immediately but had to go to work. (I was a half hour late that day after getting lost chatting it up outside of Mojo.)
We met up for a show that same night. I busted my pants excitedly jumping into his arms... and we climbed on top of a (really cool) van, butt hanging out and loving it, and each other, already.
5. Sarah, 28
My best first date was with my now husband.We had known each other through mutual friends and hung out a lot, but slowly realized our friendship was turning into something else. So we decided to have an official date. I knew he was big into TV and film, so I suggested we go to a movie. We were standing in line at the theater and he asked what I wanted to see. I picked The Lovely Bones thinking it sounded romantic and because the poster looked sort of dreamy.
Little did I know it was actually about a pedophile raping and murdering girls. Afterwards I was mortified thinking he would think I was weird for picking that as a first date movie, but when I explained what happened, he thought it was adorable and we had a good laugh. It may not have been the best first date in the traditional sense, but it was for me since it was so memorable and had a hilarious outcome.
My best first date was also a friends-that-ended-up-dating thing. He invited me to a meditation class, which I had never done but was like, sure, why not. #lifeexperiences.
So instead of the yoga set up (what I was picturing) it was a very serious, very intense zen buddhist temple sort of deal. We had to wear robes! I actually had a mini panic attack from the deathly silence and stillness and snuck out during the "walking meditation" part (it was so quiet in there I could hear myself swallowing and that FREAKED ME OUT, MAN). But he handled it like a pro, despite it also not being what he expected at all; he'd only been to more casual places before, and this one described itself as the Navy Seals of meditation.
We had SO much to talk about on the walk home, what with comparing notes on what freaked us out the most, etc, and since it was a beautiful night and we were both hungry, we ate Chipotle outside on the edge of a fountain.
Doing something new and scary like that made me vulnerable in a good way--it opened me up to the dude and forced me to trust him a little (not usually my strong suit), and it gave us something memorable to bond over.
I highly recommend leaving your comfort zone on first dates for instant connecting! And Chipotle. Always get Chipotle.
7. Caitlin, 23
Every Friday at our school during football season we had a school spirit raffle. Basically if you wore the school colors you were entered into the raffle. I was in charge of randomly picking the winners but I had a huge crush on this boy at the time (I was 14 he was 15) and rigged the raffle so he would win! The prize was a free Dairy Queen Blizzard. I rigged it just so we could have some sort of interaction when I handed him the prize but he asked me to go to Dairy Queen with him! I was SO excited.
When we got there he only ordered the one Blizzard (the free one...) and being a super shy teenager I agreed to any flavor he wanted. We got an Oreo blizzard even though I hate Oreos! We've been dating ever since (and now I choose all the flavors we order)!
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