What do you do for a date? Or, more specifically, what do you do when the obvious stuff runs dry? Let’s look at the classic date pattern:
1st date: Drinks.
2nd date: Drinks.
3rd date: Dinner + Drinks + Sex.
10th date and beyond: Sex.
The trick, therefore, is that awkward middle ground between the 3rd and 10th date. After the 10th date–more or less, depending on a host of variables like age, personality, and income–you’re bunkered in with a double-feature of Netflix and Trojan. This leaves some gaps to fill: the 4th through 9th-ish dates. None of these ideas are earth-shattering novel. We don’t expect any reader to say, “Holy shit! Wine tasting. I’ve never heard of such an activity. Brilliant!” They are, however, just different enough from dinner/drinks to give you Creativity Points, and they’re not so far-fetched that you’re scaring her with weirdness (like, say, visiting a homeless shelter). Consider the following.
Granted, there’s the potential that both of you could secretly hate this. You might both feel obliged to smile, stare at the exhibits in mock-curiosity, squint at the little white index cards, and pray for a bomb threat that will close the bastard down. Still. Suggest this and you’ll seem like an okay guy.
Not just for granola-crunchers. Even most jaded city-girls will be (sort of) enchanted by the idea of a get-away-from-it-all hike. Not outdoorsy? Then that makes it an even wackier adventure. Every city–every city–has nearby trails. Choose terrain that’s more scenic than strenuous. Carry a backpack with snacks, blankets, and wine.
Cook dinner together. But not just any dinner–a daring dish that, ordinarily, you would never tackle. Shrimp bisque with bourbon, rack of lamb with figs and port wine sauce, cappuccino soufflé–that kind of junk. Cooking together is a First Tier date. It’s playful, it’s fun to tackle a project together, and if it’s not fun…well, better to know now.
Yes. I know. This sounds pretty damn dumb. “Outdoor festivals, really? Are we in the 17th Century? Should I wear my tunic and bring my harp and snack on mutton?” We don’t mean the dork-fest of the Renaissance Festival (although that could work, with the right girl and the right sense of humor) but rather the free, outdoor, cultural events that every city sponsors. Women love this shit.
The careful reader will guess that this is an ill-advised suggestion for a first date. Or second. Or even third. But once you’ve hooked up–at least three times–it’s on the table. Go all out. Get the candles, the oils, the book that will give you some idea of what the hell you’re doing.
High-brow boozing. What’s not to like? And you don’t need to live in San Francisco or Sonoma. Any city large enough to support an Ikea will have some kind of wine tasting events–at restaurants or wine bars, usually. And if you quote Sideways we will hunt you down and slap you. That joke (you know which one) is officially cliché and therefore taboo.
It’s one of the few date situations during which it is not only acceptable but actually necessary to be close to unclothed. Enough said.
Stop laughing. Picnics work. There’s something romantic–and gloriously budget-friendly–about stuffing a Frisbee, cheese, and wine into a duffel and calling it a date. This is another fine litmus test. If you can’t have a good time with the girl when sprawled out on a picnic blanket, then you shouldn’t be going out with the girl. (Other variants, of course, include the beach, a boat, or any outdoor serenity.)
Especially good in cities. Especially good for people who don’t normally ride bikes. Good dates are ones where you break free of your comfort zone, explore new things together, and be just a bit adventurous. Chain together a couple of stops–a café, a waterfall, a trip to the Emergency Room.
Look. I’m the guy who once wrote an essay called “Dance Only Under Duress.” So I understand your apprehension: most men hate dancing. Equally true: most women love dancing. And you are not yet in the phase of the relationship where you can show her what a lazy slob you really are.
Indie theater (downside: not much interaction; upside: less obvious than a movie); put-put golf, shooting pool (not bad, but not much variety if you did drinks for Dates One and Two), planetarium, amusement park, rafting/tubing (ideally, not in Hudson River).
Of course, this list is not comprehensive. We left out a fun-filled trip to the soup kitchen, say. Dates that we’re idiots for not including? Tell us below.