In the 1950’s dating was vividly defined by the words and images of popular culture, where life imitated art and media. The automatic “go-to” date since the rock -‘n’-roll era has been a trip to the movies. Urban legend suggests that this kind of date strikes a perfect balance of intimacy and atmosphere, as well as being easier on the wallet and light on small talk. A really “smooth operator” might splash out on dinner at a fancy French restaurant, but dating in films, TV and pop music at that time rarely ventured out of the movie and pizza boundaries.
This seeming lack of imagination from songwriters and directors no doubt had an effect on the young generations of that time. When faced with the pressure of finally getting the date you’ve been yearning for since you got to high school, would you take a risk? Or simply stick with the fool-proof solution you have been weaned on since as early as you remember yourself hearing and thinking about going out on a date? I recall one date with the prettiest girl in school where I was so scared of messing it up that, between the bus, the movies and the journey home, we shared about six words with each other. Needless to say, she ignored me completely until Facebook was invented!
Like me, most teens chose the safe options, with varying degrees of success, which would serve them well, until they reached college. At that point, everything suddenly became much more complex. They say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. My college roommate went through the same motions twice a week for three years (pizza, arthouse film, coffee, park by the river to make out) and the notches on his bed post looked like it had been attacked by a particularly angry bear.
So what, if anything, can be said for the renegade who thinks outside the box and creates a unique date experience with which to charm the object of their affection? For those of us who need a new approach we must examine how we can make a date spontaneous, what the advantages are and which pitfalls to avoid.
The adventurous types among you will stick to spontaneous dating like a duck to water. Living on the edge is your life blood, and you will most likely have tried this approach in the past. One of the best things about a spontaneous date is the opportunity to share your interests with someone else and also demonstrate that you are an adventurous person who isn’t afraid of doing things that are at least mildly crazy, and who is not lacking in the confidence department. However, some of your potential dates might see this as overkill, as one dare devil friend of mine discovered the hard way. A girl he had been chasing for months started screaming in fear halfway up a rock-climbing wall he had booked for their date, and she scurried off before they even got to dinner.
On the flipside, if you’re a more conventional type who likes to play things by the book, it can be a real challenge to rustle up ideas for a spontaneous date. In fact, you may find yourself squeezing every drop of spontaneity out of the proceedings by over-planning. However, the extra work will likely pay off
– there is nothing more attractive than expanding your horizons – as long as it’s not too contrived. In researching this article, I thought it would be a good idea to take a date to a theme park, despite my on-off relationship with roller coasters. Not wanting to look cowardly, I took on The Behemoth, but my companion was less than happy to see my lunchtime hot dog return to the outside world.
“This pigeon-holing is all well and good,” I hear you cry “but how do I know which spontaneous date is right for me?” The most important factor is probably knowing what your date’s preferences are and whether they are ready for something (mildly) unexpected or unusual. Taking someone to a see a band they love is pure gold. Or, if they prefer to engage in outdoor activities, you could arrange a scenic bike ride. If you don’t know their interests and preferences when setting up the date, don’t be afraid to take a few risks. If they don’t like it then at least you made an effort. I took a date for a horse riding lesson once, and although she was tentative at first, it made a real impression on her and she ended up having a great time. At a risk of sounding sexist, I would guess that all women love horses! And if they don’t like or are afraid of riding one, they surely like watching them, or being near them.
Of course, as hinted above, not everyone is turned on by a crazy, out-there dates, so if you can read their face and it says “No surprises, buddy!”, then there is nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned trip to the movies followed by a pizza and a kiss on the doorstep, at least for your first date.