What You Do on a First Date is as Important as Who It’s With

by Haley Plotnik under Date Night,Single Life

Recently, I went on a very formal first date. I was flabbergasted when he showed up with a giant bouquet of flowers. I’m rarely speechless, but I think the flowers overwhelmed me from the start. While I appreciated them, I had no idea how to interpret the gesture, and was a bit freaked out. They’re still brightening up my apartment though, and now I can breathe easier knowing that they aren’t a declaration of love by someone who I’ve known for less than two months.

We went to a symphony and dinner, ate dessert, and sipped wine. I felt a bit out of my element; I’m more accustomed to starting out with a low-key first date. Being wined and dined isn’t something I expect on a first date. I just like to talk, laugh, and get to know each other in a casual setting. I decided, after a lot of confusion and conflicted feelings, to give this guy a second shot to wow me… in a way I am used to and comfortable with. So we went to a casual dinner, walked around a park, and had ice cream.

After the formal date:

  1. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back out with him and felt bad about myself
  2. I was exhausted trying to interpret what had happened on our date
  3. I didn’t think he was able to read my signals and vice versa

After a candid discussion and a good dose of humor, he asked if he could try again in my style. No red carpets, no flowers.

 After the casual date:

  1. I felt at ease and able to talk more freely
  2. I thought we had much more in common and walked away feeling good about myself
  3. I had no problem sending or receiving his signals

When planning a date, make sure to think about who you’re dealing with. Not everyone likes the same kind of first date. Starting out with daytime coffee is a great go-to if you’ve never met. If it goes well, you can extend the date. If not, you only waste 45 minutes to two hours of your life. It’s not super creative, but it’s tried and true. If you have met before, try to match the date to their preferences. Some people might love skydiving as a first date, while others might have a panic attack. I am in the latter camp. I would avoid trying to sweep someone off their feet on a first date. There’s plenty of time for that later on in the relationship, and you may end up accidentally sweeping them out of your life.


Stay-at-Home Summer Movies

by Aaron under Date Night,Entertainment,Online Dating,Single Life

As summer movie season is upon us, the natural inclination is to drown our girlfriends in comic book lore and respectively take boyfriends to go see Legally Blonde 6. Not a lot of happiness comes out of that from my experience (just go with your same-interest friends!), but there are definitely some fun movies for everyone, with a little romantic spark to boost. So with that in mind, I’d like to give you some of my recommendations for your next stay-at-home movie night:

  • Before Sunrise/Before Sunset: Any girl I’ve ever dated knows these are the best romance movies known to man. As a grown man, I still tear up nearly every time I watch either one, but I love every second. The movies are literally just two people exploring two European cities (Vienna in Sunrise, Paris in Sunset), but what an experience. And they’re pretty short, so if either of you disagrees with my recommendation, at least it’s over quickly.
  • Definitely, Maybe: While Ryan Reynolds is rarely an actor I recommend, this is one of those fun romantic comedies that keeps everyone happy.

Okay, so it turns out I only have two (three depending on if you count the Before movies as separate) really romantic movies, but if you’re looking for more missed hits to watch on DVD/across the internet with your significant other, here are some other non-romances you may have missed:

  • Six Degrees of Separation: Who doesn’t love Will Smith? There’s a bit of romance here, but mostly the movie just asks the question “just who the heck is this guy?” A fun air of mystery makes it a fun watch for everyone.
  • Hamlet 2: I feel like this is a very special under-appreciated movie, and I highly recommend it for everyone (ladies will love Jesus’s sexy abs, but everyone will enjoy the fun of a sequel to Hamlet).
  • The Scream Movies: Horror is a special bonding experience, and no horror series is more lightweight, fun, and well-done than the Scream movies. The whole series isn’t perfect, but if you want to be scared in a way that won’t force you to keep the lights on, this is the way to do it.

So that’s my mini-movie corner, feel free to post your stay at home recommendations in the comments!


Wait, We’re On a Date?

by Aaron under Date Night,JDate,Online Dating,Single Life

One of my favorite episodes of the American version of The Office is called “Happy Hour,” and it introduces a fun character from Steve Carell: Date Mike. Date Mike only comes to exist after Steve Carell’s character (Michael) finds out that one of his employees has brought a date for him to the company happy hour. Michael dons sunglasses, pops his collar, and puts on an attitude, explaining he didn’t realize he was on a date.

Lately I’ve seen my social media feeds clutter with people’s confusion about dates. One article went viral about people not being clear enough when it comes to their romantic intentions. Another recent article in USA Today reported on a study commissioned by JDate and ChristianMingle that found there is a lot of confusion when it comes to figuring out whether or not a date was actually a date… or something else.

There’s a few angles I see with this. On the one hand, online dating should make this issue much easier: when a website has the word “date” in the title, it should be pretty clear what’s happening. But that isn’t always the case. Over Shabbat, I discussed this with friends. Some had used JDate simply as a way to further test the waters, inviting people to happy hours — not a date, simply an introduction opportunity that other parties misunderstood.

Here’s a distinction that makes defining a date less ambiguous: a good date simply involves people having fun, a little bit of sexual tension, and most importantly, spontaneity. My friends and I discussed our best and worst dates earlier this week (three men, two women) and came up with some conclusive answers as to how we enjoyed or disliked dates. When both parties interacted heavily (not seeing Troy, for example, when one party isn’t into action movies), or had a fun time just doing something random (not as random as buying plants at Home Depot, but maybe as random as eating a cookie cake together and sharing wine), it didn’t matter how the night was labeled.

People like to have a good time and try new things. If you can do that together, a date becomes a date whether you call it so or not. More often than not, the hangouts I’ve had with members of the opposite sex — such as watching a Scream movie marathon or going to a women’s basketball game on campus — have often led to much deeper connections than me making small talk about the first time I ordered the veggie burger at a restaurant. So date, hangout, invitation to meet at Whole Foods — it doesn’t matter what you call it. A date has a lot of extra pressure added to it, and that tends to take away from the fun. There’s no need to bring Date Mike to the party, but add some fun and spontaneity, and it’s going to be a good time — regardless of what it’s called.