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How to Plan Great First Dates

Tom Kerr

Why the best idea may be the worst plan for a great first date

We all want to experience the perfect date, and feel the sparks of chemistry fly as we become swept away with the passion play of an exciting new encounter with someone special.

Personal boundaries are important for keeping things in perspective and allowing our personalities to assert themselves in a sexy, balanced, confident way, and so are personal plans and strategies.

Consider it a romantic investment: the energy you put into planning your ev ening will come back to you many times over, in the form of a rewarding and fun experience.

There is a popular phrase – referred to as “the four P’s – taught by management workshop experts, and it applies to micromanaging your romantic life, as well: Prior Planning Prevents Problems.

And, of course, we’ve all been taught that first impressions make the most lasting ones. But then somebody asks us out on a date and it has been so long since that happened that we go into a panic and all we can think about is shopping for something to wear, or at least doing laundry so we have something clean to wear.

Get a Plan

What we need to start thinking about is planning the meeting place and the agenda, to increase the chances of having another date in the not so distant future. Cupid is clever, but sometimes we need to encourage Cupid with a little foresight and a practical plan.

First rule: just because it is considered the ideal date according to conventional wisdom, think again, because you don’t just want to have an ordinary and conventional date. You want to have an extraordinary and unique date, and that requires a little creative thinking.

Dinner and a Movie?

For instance, meeting someone special for dinner followed by a movie is considered the ideal date, by most people, and is such a standard date theme that “dinner and a movie” has become almost synonymous – practically a modern euphemism – for the perfect date.

But too many things can go wrong with the traditional dinner and a movie date, and we have heard dozens of stories from those people who tried and failed to make this the ideal first outing.

For instance, any number of problems can come up by putting dinner in front of a deadline, and movie starting times, whether we like to think of them that way or not, are deadlines. No theatre is going to hold the curtain or reserve a good seat for two, just because you and your honey decided to linger over dessert, or because the service at the restaurant or the waiting time in the cue outside to get into it was slow.

What if you finally hit it off in – things are rolling right along, when suddenly you realize that film down the street is also rolling, and you’re both missing the most important scene of the movie – the one where you learn who the characters are and what the plot involves?

Don't Impose a Deadline

What is more important, learning what the person you're dating is all about, and what your interpersonal chemistry involves, or making it to the movie on time? The movie could end up being a dud, after all, whereas your connection to the person across the table could lead to an award-winning relationship.

Interrupting a delightful and intimate chat over chocolate mousse to venture into the unknown realm of a crowded theater is not always a good idea, so we suggest not imposing this kind of deadline and limitation on your evening.

Even if you do benefit from synchronicity and manage to make it to the theatre right on time with no delays, then you throw your destiny to the wind by entering into one of the most controversial arenas for sharing time with somebody new.

Studies show that people react to movies the way they react to politics and religion: with intense feeling, stubborn opinions, and dramatic personal differences along arbitrary lines of personal taste.

And this not only applies to the film itself, because even if you both agree on the movie, you may disagree over movie etiquette: Should you buy popcorn? Should you order it with or without butter?

Does one of you like to comment and talk during the movie, whereas the other finds that kind of behavior extremely annoying? What about seat selection – some of us insist on sitting up close, others refuse to sit anywhere but in the back of the theater. And if the movie is popular, you might not even find a seat together, which would be comical if it wasn’t such an outrageous disaster.

Save It For Later


Our advice: save the dinner and a movie date for after you have gotten to know one another and are comfortable in your relationship. Take some of the pressure off of your first outing, because the more relaxed you are, the more fun you’ll have. And take some of the guesswork out too, so that you don’t have to be confronted with controversy or inconvenience.

Plan a dinner at a restaurant you both like, and then take a stroll around town afterward, and hit a few bars and cafes along the way for an after-dinner drink or dessert. Listen to some music, or go dancing. If you change your mind in those situations, you can just improvise and visit an art gallery, sit on a park bench and people-watch, or – if things are going really well – you might both want to head back to your place for a nightcap.

After all, if you are going to make your own movie – and we all have the option to direct and star in the film that is our life – you might want to include at least one good love scene.