How to Date Good: A Journey Away from the “Movie at My Place” Courtship

Editor’s note: Hey guys! After I ranted about Gen Y and dating, our super stunning contributor Andrew Johnson, aka, the Vegan Giant, stepped in for some guidance. LADIES…He is single! (Rings cowbell.) –  Zoe

By Andrew Johnson

College plans revolve around three things: being cheap, being lazy, and wanting to spend time around the opposite sex. However much the first two might clash with the third, somehow coeds manage to carry on casual relationships throughout their collegiate career. Once this life of microwavable burritos and sweatpants is over, though, so is your excuse for inviting a date over to sit on your couch and watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall for the 24th time.

Everyone always said that the real world is a wake-up call after college, but it seems like 20-something year old men are hitting snooze and burying their faces back in the pillow. Too many times I’ve heard female friends knock their latest prospect for his lack of imagination, or his determination to stay at home for a date. I might not be greatest at dating, but I’ve gotten enough accolades on my choice of activities to make me think that this article is necessary. So if you’d like some ideas for a date, or just some simple tips, here you go.

Idea 1: Stay at home. I know I just told you that friends of mine have slammed this, but that’s because the guys they referenced were missing two key words; stay at home and cook. Not only does this show the girl or guy you’re interested in that you know your way around a kitchen, but the preparation of the meal gives you two a chance to talk. Casual conversation just bubbles up when they’re measuring out the olive oil and you’re dicing some onions. It’s a great way to break the ice, and to learn more about the other person. And if you don’t know how to cook, make spaghetti with some fresh bread you can buy from a local bakery. Drizzle some olive oil and minced garlic on the bread, heat it in the oven for 5 minutes, and voila! Garlic bread! It doesn’t get much easier than that, and it will still feel like a cozy, home-cooked meal.

Idea 2: Go out for coffee or tea. This is another great opportunity to talk with the other person and get to know them. Meeting at a local coffee shop has the bonus of showing you care about your community. Extra points if you know a barista and tell them you’re coming in on a date. When I made coffee, I was eager to give away free drinks and upgrades to make peoples’ day… hopefully your barista feels the same. Find a comfortable, quiet spot, and just start talking. Which leads to…

Idea 3: Go for a walk! If conversation goes well, use that caffeinated buzz to propel the two of you on a walk around the neighborhood, or a local park. That can easily turn a short afternoon date into an in-depth, all-day rendezvous that brings the two of you closer together. Even more points if the walk lasts until sunset, and you manage to catch the sun’s last rays with the object of your fancy. This doesn’t need to follow the coffee/tea date; if you have a beautiful park or eclectic neighborhood you enjoy, the walk can be the primary part. Just find somewhere you enjoy and can share anecdotes about to keep conversation flowing. Leave the rest up to your connection with the other person.

Idea 4: Go see that new play/concert/exhibit. This is a twist on the movie date, but with less predictability. A movie is a movie, same in the theater or on DVD. The beauty of a play, a concert, and a museum or art exhibit is that they’re never exactly the same, and appeal to people on much different levels. No two people are going to interpret a work of art the same, or feel the same way when a lead character dives into a soliloquy. Make sure the topic is something you’re both interested in, and leave plenty of time afterwards to chat about what you got from the experience. Mental stimulation, I’ve found, often leads to physical stimulation. But if you want something that jumps right into the physical…

Idea 5: Go dancing! There are bars with special dancing nights in every city in America. There’s Salsa on Thursdays, Swing on Fridays… even Barn Dancing on Sundays if that’s your thing. If you’re not comfortable with dancing at all, take a few trips to these spots in advance to practice. I’ve found that it’s not hard to find a partner there to help you if you’re not afraid to ask. Once you get confident enough in your steps to woo your new boo, invite them out and buy some drinks. A little booze can go a long way in picking up your rhythm. Trust me, I’m a white guy; I’ve got experience needing help with my rhythm.

If you don’t like those ideas, I hope they’ve at least started the wheels turning in your head. The best type of date is one that you’ve thought of just for the other person, as a way to spend quality time with them. If you two share the same interest in activities, take advantage of that. Go biking together, or visit an abandoned factory for a photo shoot; whatever gets the two of you connecting on a level that’s deeper than the appreciation for Jason Segel’s comedic use of his own penis.

If you’ve already spent time with the other person, try to remember something they said that they especially enjoy or care about. If they mentioned that they’ve started a beautifully colorful collection of fall leaves, pick up the next bright red maple leaf you see and bring it with you. Surprises can be a wonderful thing; if you combine the surprise with something the other person adores, you’re golden. It’s the little things that people remember, that can make someone’s day. If you want to share special time with them, just act with your heart.

Andrew Johnson is an engineer living in Louisville, KY. He is a million miles tall, has awesome vegan tattoos, is currently learning to play the banjo, and loves to cook. Also, his editor likes to brag about him via bylines… 

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