Oh crap, she wants to go on a date. Shit just got real, son! Um, panicpanicpanic what to do… OK, dinner and a movie! It’s classic! It’s timeless! It’s perfect!
It’s why you’re getting a hand-shake goodnight when you walk her back to her car.
Congratulations. You just took your date on the most cliche, boring outing possible short of “wanna get high and watch TV?” Everyone has done the Dinner-And-A-Movie, usually after the Coffee Date. Dinner-and-a-Movie is soul-killingly boring, and to make matters worse, you’re doing it in the wrong order for fuck’s sake; you’re sacrificing half of your date to just stare at a screen instead of interacting with each other, flirting and working towards getting back to your place. At least watch the movie first, so in a worst-case scenario, you have something to talk about afterwards at dinner!
But hey, it happens. So here’s how you never have this problem again: you develop your Standard First Date. Yes, I’m advocating you take every girl you date on the same first date. This is your default, hard-to-fuck-up-easy-to-pull-off maneuver that looks more impressive than it really is. It also has the added benefits of subtly tweaking the girl’s subconscious into thinking you’ve spent more time together than you really have, which makes her more comfortable with you which, in turn, makes things more likely to go in the directions you hope it will.
Here’s what you’re gonna do.
This is how you’re going to eliminate the issues that commonly come up… no more “Where do you want to go? I dunno, where do you wanna go,” no more “So what are we doing next?” You will have all sorted all of this out well before you actually meet up with your date. You want to pick out at least one bar for appetizers/drinks, one low-key but classy restaurant, one dessert location, one unique “event” location (a hookah bar, a venue specializing in unique or quirky live entertainment, Prohibition-era drinks complete with period-appropriate bartenders, something) and one fun bar. You do NOT want something rowdy, club-y or particularly loud; you want this to be about the two of you, not a bunch of beer-chugging broheims or dudes who’re gonna try and steal your date away and you don’t want to spend all your time shouting at each other.
Oh, and if at all possible, you want them to be close enough to each other to walk to them all, then to walk back to your place. If you live in a large city, you really have no excuse; there should be viable places well within walking distance. If not… well, there’s nothing that can really be done, but you at least want your various venues to be close enough to walk to, even if you’re going to have to take your car back later.
Map out the path you’re going to take, especially if there’s anything particularly scenic or quirky along the way. There’s nothing like the “spontaneous” moment of beauty on a date to melt hearts. If you have to take your car, know in advance where to find the available parking; the less time you spend circling the blocks, the more time you’ve got to sweep your date off their feet.
Ideally, you meet at your place. The way I would go about this is to tell her to call you when she gets to the corner of X and Y… X and Y being near your house/apartment/dorm, whatever. When she does, you say “Awesome, I’m right around the corner. I’m running a bit behind; why don’t you meet me at my place for just a second?” She comes up just as you’re conveniently finishing up, you greet her with a quick hug, give her the nickel tour of the joint (remember: be a gentleman. She’s in a place where she’s at a disadvantage, and you need to make her comfortable. Also, stay calm and low key; after all, you do this all the time…) and walk to your first location: the drinks/appetizer bar.
If for whatever reason she can’t (or won’t) meet you there, you meet at the first location. Be slightly late; you don’t want to seem too eager. If you feel the need, tell her to text you when she’s on the way. Don’t leave until you’ve gotten that text, then add an extra ten minutes for good measure.
While you’re having your drinks, you want to start seeding the idea of the event location: how cool it is, how you and your friends found it, etc. At this point, you’re NOT telling her you’re taking her there, you are planting the idea of it. If she bites – i.e. she expresses interest in going there with you – then you give a quick “yeah, why not?” response…this makes it feel as though it’s her idea, which again subtly encourages the idea of her wanting to spend time with you doing fun stuff.
But hey, you’re feeling a bit hungry. Is she feeling hungry? Because there’s a cool place just around the corner for dinner, they’ve got this great XYZ, you should try it.
And so you go off for dinner. During dinner, you do not want to talk about consequential things: no major tragedies or failed relationships. Keep it light and mischievous; the two of you are part of a mini-conspiracy out to do bad things. Ask questions like who her favorite Bond Girl is; tell her to answer carefully as her response will determine the fate of the rest of your time together. Don’t push the event location; if she brings it up, be a bit playful. Tease her. “I dunno… I’m not sure you’re cool enough.” Act like it’s your bratty little sister asking to come along with you; this is supposed to be fun, so be careful not to cross the line into asshole. Friendly. Flirty. Fun. These are the key words.
Pro Tip: While you’re on the date, you want to be touching her. Not constantly obviously, unless things are going REALLY well right off the bat; little things like a hand on the lower back as you open the door to the restaurant for her, touching her upper arm when you’re agreeing excitedly with a point she’s making or when she’s said something funny, a playful shove when she’s being silly. Not for longer than a second or two; you want her comfortable with the idea of being touched by you, not feeling like you’re creepy touchy-feely guy or trying to push things.
Next is the event location. Continue the threads you’ve been establishing during dinner, that the two of you are off doing your own wicked adventure. Role-play a bit even; what would she rather be, a spy or a super-villain? Riff on this. If she’s a spy, she’s going to be Jane Bond, seducing the villain’s henchmen into doing what she wants and rescuing the Bond Man. If she’s a supervillain, well, there’s obviously some bondage jokes to be made, aren’t there?
After the event location, suggest dessert, preferrably something that will clog your arteries and/or send you into a diabetic coma. You’re doing something that’s inherently bad for you, but you’re doing it anyway because, really, isn’t that more fun?
Pro Tip: A favorite thing that I would do, usually around this point: I’d tell my date she’s doing something that’s absolutely adorable, but she has no idea she’s doing it. And you won’t tell her what it is, because if you do, she’ll stop doing it. Again: be playful here. If things are going well, she’ll be demanding to know what it is; refuse to tell her, then blatantly change the subject.
Following dessert: a last drink because you’re both having fun. Then back to your place. Here, depending on how things are going, you invite your date in – just for a few minutes, and then I’m gonna kick you out, I’ve got X to do tomorrow – for something cool, something you mentioned off-hand earlier: a hilarious YouTube video she needs to see, a new DVD you just picked up, the view from your back deck, try one of your homemade infused vodkas… something. Otherwise, it’s a kiss goodnight, making definite plans to see her again and then hailing a cab for her.
Why It Works:
The Standard First Date, ideally, takes you on several venue changes over the course of one evening. The reason for this is that each changes over the course of a single date disrupts your date’s sense of time; she feels like she’s spent much more fun time with you than she really has. The more time she feels as though she’s felt in your company, the more comfortable she will be with you. The more comfortable she is, then, well, I’m sure you can guess the rest.
Seeding the ideas for the Event Location and whatever you have back at her place to encourage her to come in not only makes her a participant in the planning, but it will feel as though it was her own idea. As a result, she would feel much more emotionally invested in the fun than if she’s just being taken on a guided tour of places in town. Similarly, the bogus time-constraint: “You can only come in for a minute before I kick you out,” provides a feeling of security and investment, as well as an easy out should either of you want it. If things are going well, then hey, you don’t want the night to end yet, and you’re just going to make a sacrifice for her out of whatever it was you had to do the next day. If not… well, it’s easy enough to say “I had fun, but I really need to kick you out now. Quit tempting me to let you stay, already.”
The strength of the Standard First Date is that it’s modular. If for whatever reason a part of it isn’t going to work – she has a food allergy that means she can’t eat at your restaurant, she doesn’t bite on the event locale, she legitimately can’t stay out long enough for all of it – you can swap parts in and out as needed. Any issues that come up can be worked around with minimal fuss, making you look smooth and supremely in control.
Pro Tip: Kiss her BEFORE the end of the night. Don’t worry about “the right time.” It’s never the right time. It’s also never not the right time. The right time, in other words, can be created. And don’t worry about getting the cheek, or even refused; if she doesn’t actually slap you and/or leave, that’s not a no, that’s a “not just yet.”