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What Makes a Great First Date?

Not long ago, I took my three daughters to see some animated film at a local second-run theater. When the credits began to roll, I started picking up the wreckage of snack remains under our little group of seats. In the row in front of us, a young couple — maybe college-age — was standing up to leave. I heard the guy say to the gal: “So, do you like pizza?”

It was pretty noisy in there — and I wasn’t really all that interested in eavesdropping, anyway — so I didn’t hear if the girl liked pizza or not, nor any more of the couple’s conversation as the two made their way down the aisle and to the exit. But it seemed easy (although probably not entirely accurate) to speculate and fill in a few blanks:

• This was the couple’s first date.
• They had chosen that classic Friday evening date of dinner-and-a-movie.
• They were a full two hours into the evening before the guy began to consider the question of what kind of food the girl might enjoy.

Come on man, did you plan this date or what? Was the movie the main event here and the meal just an afterthought? Did you ever consider doing just the dinner? You know, so you could like talk and stuff? Maybe learn a little bit about her, such as whether or not she likes pizza?

OK, not fair. Maybe they went to a cozy little pizzeria and talked late into the night, and each went home giddy with the prospect of a relationship with this person that they had so much in common with. And I certainly don’t mean to criticize the whole “dinner and a movie” idea as a date concept. I’ve gone on many such outings with my wife, and I hope to do so again in the future.

(In fact, I recently learned two things about Disney’s upcoming attempt to prove that it’s possible to make a great Star Wars film not named “The Empire Strikes Back:” 1) The cast from the original trilogy is returning, and 2) Through either a stunning coincidence or divine intervention, the release date of Episode VII just so happens to land on our wedding anniversary. Any babysitting volunteers for Dec. 18, 2015?)

So, yes, I do like movies. I like dinner. I like movies and dinner — sometimes even at the same time. But as a first date? I’m not sure. I guess it depends on the length of the movie and how much time is spent afterward in a not-staring-at-a-screen state. But I wonder if there isn’t a higher standard that needs to be met on a first date. Shouldn’t it be simple and unique and maybe memorable? Something that will, hopefully, provide a nice opportunity to learn enough about each other to figure out if you might like to go out another time?

Now, I realize the “who” is the more important question when considering first dates, so please forgive a quick detour into a peripherally related matter. But what, in your mind, has made a great first date, or what do you think could make a great first date?

This is a little different than considering the fun, inexpensive date ideas for those evenings out once you’re actually in a relationship. A first date requires a delicate balance of all sorts of factors, and it is at least partly responsible for a chance at that ever-elusive second date.

Copyright 2014 Vance Fry. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Vance Fry

Vance Fry has been an editor in the media publishing group at Focus on the Family since 2010. Prior to his time at Focus, Vance was an editor and English teacher with Overseas Radio and Television in Taipei, Taiwan. Vance and his wife Marcia (pronounced with a silent final “a”) have four children. In his free time, Vance enjoys hanging out with his family and making stuff in the garage.

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