4 Tips On How To Pick The Perfect Place For A First Date

Doing my time online dating, I’ve developed strong opinions about a lot of things. Handlebar mustaches? NO. Ayn Rand followers? Next. Men who tell girls not to contact them if you’re “crazy”? I hope you die alone! (Also, does any woman actually self-diagnose as “crazy”?)

My strongest opinion  when it comes to dating — which has become the subject of many an impassioned Frisky office debate — is the ideal location for a first date. I’ve noticed that lots of guys have the best intentions when it comes to picking a first date spot but oftentimes fail.  Maybe this is not a problem for people who live in the ‘burbs or small cities; perhaps there is a “town center” where all the restaurants and bars are located. But in larger cities with complicated public transit systems — Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., my home turf of New York City — a lady could end up traveling an hour-plus getting to a date. And then have to sell her firstborn child to pay for it.

So I thought I’d offer a few thoughts — for dudes and girls alike, it’s 2012 people! — on how to pick a place for a first date.

  1. Location, location, location. It’s not just what realtors say as they’re siphoning out your savings account: choosing the proper location is the single most important thing to keep in mind. But I’m not talking about whether you should pick the classy wine bar or the grungy dive — I’m talking about, literally, the location of the date spot from wherever you both are coming from. Is your date coming from home? From work? From someplace else? Find out where they’re planning to be prior to your date and then pick a place in between.  If he’ll be in Santa Monica, don’t pick a restaurant in Burbank. If she’ll be in Greenpoint, don’t pick a bar in Inwood. The golden word here is equidistanct.
  2. Cuisine. This one sounds obvious, but I guess it’s not? I’ve heard way too many stories of vegetarians asked out to steakhouses. I also once met a guy at a beer garden (my suggestion) and when we got there he told me he was in AA. Oopsies!  It’s my personal opinion that you can’t do wrong at an Italian place. There’s usually something for everybody … unless your date has a gluten allergy. 
  3. Affordability. It’s 2012. Ladies should offer to pay for themselves on dates and pony up the cash if the guy wants to go dutch. And if the lady does the asking, she should come fully prepared to pay for the date. However, this gets really complicated when the dude is the one who picks the place and he picks someplace spendy. (Or as I refer to it when texting my friends, “$$$.”) I’m totally willing to pay for myself on a date and I make sure to have money on hand to do so. But I also have to live within my budget, which could be described as Broke-Ass MoFo. So things get uncomfortable when a man invites me on a date to a place that will utterly wipe out my Fun Budget for a week if I have anything more than one or two cocktails — remember, I live in a city where peeps get away with charging $13 for drinks. Take, for instance, a date I had this weekend: the guy suggested a jazz club which serves dinner and drinks; guests are required to spend a minimum amount on food. Not including the $30 ticket, I could see $40 or $50 being spent on food/beverages/tip just this one evening. No offense to this guy — who was quite lovely — but I would prefer not to spend my Fun Budget all in one evening on a date with a stranger. So I proposed that instead of a jazz club, we get coffee instead.  I told him that the jazz club sounded awesome, but alas, was out of my budget. He generously offered to treat me, and he did. But the whole experience underscored for me that affordability — for both parties — of the first date location is key. Chivalry is awesome … but it’s not guaranteed.
  4. Noise/privacy. Maybe I’m just cranky and old, but I don’t want to go anywhere — first date, second date, ever — where I have to yell to be heard. It’s one thing if you’re seeing live music on your first date; it’s another thing entirely if you’re in a bar so loud they’re possibly trying to use noise pollution to smoke a terrorist out of his hole. Privacy is also pretty important. It can be super-uncomfortable to be squished up against strangers while you’re having your first date conversation, especially if you’re the type of person — like me — who may get into private topics on a first date. I’m not suggesting that you need to sit in seclusion. But personally, I’d vote against that tiny little restaurant where everybody sits on top of each other and hears each other’s bidness.

Any other thoughts about how to pick the perfect place for a first date? Leave them in the comments!

Contact the author of this post at [email protected] Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.

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