DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m curious what you and your readers think about the idea of lunch and a museum as a first date.
For years, I haven’t gotten past the first date. After reading a lot of dating advice, including yours which was excellent, I realized that, among many other things I was doing wrong, I was taking women on the very boring, predictable first date of dinner and a movie.
Unfortunately, I am somewhat on the clumsy side. A lot of the things you suggest for a first date (rock climbing, bowling, etc.) take a degree of coordination I just don’t have. In situations like rock climbing where I have to put my hands and feet in just the right place at the right time I’ll briefly lock up and not be able to move at all. My bowling is nearly all gutter balls. (I actually had some testing for this. I have an extremely mild neurological impairment, but it’s not at all apparent in typical daily activities. I just can’t do much effectively that takes more coordination than is called for in a normal day.)
So, I tried to think of a first date that would keep my date and me in motion, give us a chance to talk and be an interesting experience. A museum seemed to be perfect: a chat over sandwiches followed by a walk through a couple galleries and, maybe, coffee after if we seem to getting along.
I’ve gotten really conflicting feedback from friends about this. It’s ranged from, “What a great idea. I’m gonna try it myself” to “You are gonna make yourself look like to a total nerd, and, maybe, a snobby nerd” to just about everything in between.
How does a museum first date sound to you? Also, do you have any ideas for first dates that don’t need even a mild degree of athletic skill? (I love the zoo visit idea, but the closest zoo is 80 miles from here and I’m hesitant about a tightly-packed comedy club because I live in an area with a low COVID-vaccination rate and none of the vaccines, including mine, are 100% effective).
DEAR CONFUSED MSW: Honestly, I think a museum makes for a great date. It gives you the opportunity to walk around, talk about the art, joke around (“hey, if we were to pull a heist, what painting would you steal?”) and get to know each other in a low-key, low stakes environment. And it’s the kind of date that can easily be extended into other areas — get some coffee or an ice cream after, go to the park or grab dinner, and so on. Plus, there’re also a lot of interesting, offbeat or unusual museums out there that offer you experiences that you might never try otherwise. Events like the traveling Van Gogh experience, for example or local interactive art exhibits also make for great dates.
So, for that matter, do festivals, fairs and bazaars. There’s almost always interesting things to see, discuss and bond over, and they often can be much more interesting and enjoyable dates than what most people go on. That alone helps you stand out.
Now I would, however, suggest that you change the order around; I’d recommend doing the museum or the gallery first, then go get a meal. This way, you have the shared experience of the museum to fall back on if you suddenly have no idea what to talk about.
As a general rule, you want to plan dates that you would enjoy — things that speak to you and that you’d have fun doing, even if it were just you. First dates can be stressful as it is; doing something you legitimately enjoy not only helps alleviate some of that stress, but your mood and headspace helps set the tone for the date. Good moods are contagious; if you’re enjoying yourself, your date will likely pick up on it and enjoy it more as well. It also means that you’re more likely to plan different or unique dates and ones that are actually interesting and fun. Dates that are just pleasant are ok, but a little bit same-y. Dates that you would enjoy tend to avoid the risk of the pleasant, familiar and played out.
Plus, when you’re using what you find fun as a starting point, you’re more likely to stand out, if only because you’re not taking her on the same dates she’s been on dozens of times before.
I might also suggest that if your neurological issues screw with your ability to go bowling, say, them maybe something like Skee-ball or mini-golf would be better; same level of friendly competition, less physical exertion or coordination needed. Or you might enjoy go-karting or VR experiences like Dreamscape, interactive theater or other non-typical dates. You could also try things like couples cooking classes or escape rooms, exploring urban mysteries in your area through sites like Atlas Obscura and finding the nifty hidden history of your town. Maybe you have a vibrant art scene in your town and there’re studio tours or architectural tours of unique, modern or unusual homes. You can also invite a date to go join you and do the tourist-y things that you all ignore because you’re locals.
One of the things I can’t recommend highly enough is to get familiar with what’s happening in your area. There’re usually a lot of hidden gems and events that fly under the radar that could make for incredible dates. And one of the great benefits of life in the 21st century is that we have any number of ways of finding them. If your town has a subreddit, that’s one option. There’re also websites, Facebook pages and Instagram accounts that specialize in local goings-on, whether it be hidden gems that are a little off the beaten path, new bars and restaurants, festivals, parties, concerts and the like. The more you are connected to the social network of where you live, the more potential options that will present themselves to you… or you may find inspiration for outings of your own.
Spend some time familiarizing yourself with what’s available to you, especially things that you might not have tried otherwise. Keeping abreast of what’s happening in the upcoming weeks means you’ll always have a number of date ideas in your back pocket, ready to be pulled out at an opportune moment. It also means you won’t find yourself scrambling at the last minute, especially if one plan doesn’t work out because of circumstances outside of your control.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com