If the idea of post-work drinks for a first date seems "predictable" to you, then maybe this advice from Dr. Helen Fisher will help ease some of your anxieties. The biological anthropologist told the Washington Post that drinks are the best first date activity. It may seem boring or played-out or "basic," but that's because it's actually a really effective investment of time and energy in the age of online dating. She encouraged fans of Tinder and the like not to feel self-conscious about skipping dinner or an expensive activity-based first date in lieu of a couple of drinks at your local happy hour spot.
While it's obviously important to avoid getting trashed — for safety reasons, among other things — Fisher notes that this type of date "is extremely well built to assemble data about a potential partner." Says Fisher, "You’re going to end up being more social, more talkative, and showing more of who you are."
A cocktail or two can loosen you up enough to calm potential first-date nerves, plus it can help lower your defenses in the good way — by allowing you to remove your emotional armor a little bit and be more vulnerable. Your date has a better chance of seeing you for who you really are and gauging whether or not you will be compatible. And the same goes for you assessing them!
“The first date really should be just for cocktails, because you really shouldn’t invest a lot of money or time. It’s a look-see," Fisher said. This can help mitigate disappointment if your date turns out to be a total bust. At least you didn't blow a huge chunk of your paycheck or precious free time on someone who lied in an elaborate story about how he's a writer on Broad City . Money and time are both valuable resources of yours that should not be wasted on a human you find vaguely attractive based on five photos, 500 characters, and a handful of polite, small-talky messages in which no one displays any demonstrably problematic beliefs.
Over drinks is the best place, Fisher argues, to measure compatibility. You can gauge whether or not you're physically attracted to them IRL. You can assess whether or not you're pheromonally compatible (you know, those people whose natural smells you just can't stand?). And you can strategically assess their personality, like their core beliefs, how they interact with waitstaff, and how they respond to your authentic expression of self.
In other words, a first date isn't about getting someone to like you: It's about measuring for compatibility. And if you aren't compatible, you can peace out after the first round.
Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Giphy