Why Going Out To Dinner On A First Date Can Easily Become A Disaster

Most of us have been there. All dolled up in a dimly lit restaurant, sitting across from someone who is practically a stranger — and rather than feeling swept away by the romance and ambiance of the moment, we feel far more like we're in an uncomfortable, high-pressure interview (via Art of Charm). And while it's certainly a well-embedded notion in our minds, going out to dinner on a first date might not be the best way to get to know a potential love interest.


Some may call it old-fashioned and charming  — and hey, sometimes a nice dinner date might unfold beautifully — but often, it seems it might be better saved for the second or third date when you both know you're interested in continuing to get to know one another. If, off the bat, it's clear that you and your date haven't been struck by Cupid's arrow, the remainder of the evening will crawl on slowly and painfully.

Dinner dates can be too confining

If your dinner date turns out to be a bumpy ride, there are a few avenues to lessen the awkwardness or step away from the high pressure of connecting. While this may not be a disaster in and of itself, there are several more uncomfortable hurdles to jump before you can politely wrap up the evening. In other words, ordering, deciding whether or not to spring for dessert, and of course, figuring out how to handle the bill aren't always the smoothest of moments, and if you aren't hitting it off, they can be pretty cringe-worthy and anxiety provoking. It's simply just a lot at once, even if you are initially attracted to one another. 


A coffee date instead of a heavier dinner date can relieve some of the pressure the more formal outing presents. After all, it's typically shorter in length, it'll feel natural to get up from the table to order a pastry or grab some cream, and you won't feel as though you've overspent on an evening you could have definitely done without.

First date alternatives

Instead of doing dinner, lunch, or coffee — although the last two are a bit of an improvement from dinner for a first date — something a little more casual, comfortable, and fun is usually the ticket to avoiding those awkward silences and personal questions you may not be ready to dive into. A mellow hike to a beautiful scenic view, for instance, will give you something to focus on and chat about without the face-to-face pressure that comes with dining. Amusement parks, carnivals, concerts, and art shows — all of these provide the opportunity to have fun in a more laid-back environment while also getting to know one another. And while these outings are great group activities, it's probably best for a first date to be kept between the two of you. 


And, if you're up for it, a slightly spooky date can actually be a great icebreaker. "Believe it or not, doing something scary — think horror film, rollercoasters, or Halloween maze — can be a bonding activity unlike any other," Rachel Thomasian, executive director at Playa Vista Counseling and break-up specialist, told TZR. "Fear releases the same endorphins as love, and feeling like you survived something together brings people together." And if you're feeling these endorphins, you'll know your first date went well