These activities can help you learn a lot more about the person you’re going out with
Here are some activities, many of which you do every day or week, that can be charming date experiences and that can help you learn a lot about the person you’re with.
I wouldn’t do most of these on a first date, but you can do them pretty early in the relationship, especially if tacked on to another main date activity, like getting a meal.
Many of these will help you get to know each other in much more meaningful ways than you can by trying to make conversation over dinner.
1. Touring an Open House for Sale
After a Sunday lunch date with someone I really liked, we went on a walk in the neighborhood and saw a sign for an open house for sale. I suggested we take a look, and she agreed to.
I’m now married to that woman and we still go out to see luxury open houses for sale (that are way out of our price range) on Sunday afternoons for fun.
Why is touring a home for sale a great thing to do while on a date? First of all, it’s just plain fun to see expensive homes that are nicely staged.
Second, when you talk about the decor, it gives you an opportunity to learn about the other person’s tastes in interior design.
Third, if you rent now (as most young single people do), it shows that you have ambition and are looking toward something more in the future.
Finally, it gives you a fun opportunity to “role play”, i.e., “No, no, this won’t do. There’s no butler’s quarters in this home”. Or, if they ask “do you have kids?”, you say “no, but we have twins on the way!” Feel free to play around and get creative!
Seeing an open house is quick, easy and free, and can be a really fun, spontaneous part of a daytime date!
2. Ikea / Furniture Shopping
Ikea has already been documented as a fun date destination online and in movies like 500 Days of Summer. Not only can you shop and discover the other person’s taste in furniture, but there’s also an opportunity to do some fun domestic role-playing there.
Plus, they have their famous Swedish restaurant that you can go to afterward. Worst cast, at least you got some furniture shopping done!
Around Los Angeles, there are areas of town that have some ridiculously high-end furniture stores that are fun to browse, even if you can’t afford any of it. We love going to the Helms Bakery complex in Culver City with its many furniture stores, including the completely over-the-top HD Buttercup flagship store with over 100,000 square feet of gratuitously expensive and insane home furnishings.
3. Home Improvement / Furniture Assembly
Helping someone assemble furniture or paint a room can be a rewarding and bonding experience. Plus, you’ll probably learn something new about the person, good or bad.
One time I helped someone I was just starting to date install some shelves. After it was done, we had our first make-out session, even though we were kind of sweaty and gross.
Another time, when I was helping the woman I was dating with an arts-and-crafts project, we got in a big fight and never finished it. We ended up breaking up eventually.
But in both cases, we learned something about ourselves and the relationship!
4. Grocery / Farmer’s Market Shopping
Going grocery shopping for the first time with someone you’re interested in is fun. I’m not sure why, but it is. Maybe it’s because it could be the first time you see them in a non-date situation.
As a bachelor, I used to go to Ralph’s or whatever was cheapest. If you’re going with someone you like, it might be good to go to a higher-end market like Whole Foods, Bristol Farms, or dare I say, Erewhon. On the other hand, Trader Joe’s is pretty awesome and not expensive!
I’ve said throughout this site that I think going to a farmer’s market is a great date idea. Try to find one that serves hot food like the Hollywood Farmer’s Market and turn it into brunch!
5. Walking a Dog / Going for a Walk
One time when I showed up to pick up someone for a first date, she said we had to walk her dog first. Of course, I was glad to (luckily we had time before our dinner reservations), and I found the experience to be really endearing. I don’t know if she felt anything, but I felt more relaxed and closer to her after we did that.
I also think that going for a walk is almost a “must do” after a long dinner date. I mean, it feels great to stretch your legs and work off some of those calories. Plus, it’s an easy and low-key way to extend a date.
You can tack on a walk after almost any date activity, weather permitting. Just be aware if your date has high heels or is not suitably dressed for walking. In those cases, it might be best to do the walk some other time.
6. Working Out / Outdoor Exercise
After you’ve done your first few dinner dates, a good change of pace might be to do an outdoor activity like going for a jog or bike ride or playing tennis or pickleball. Or, do Yoga in the park. Not only will you get to spend time together, but you’ll probably learn something about the other person and get a great workout!
If things are going well, grab a casual lunch or dinner afterward!
7. Giving a Tour of Your School or Alma Mater
In the movie, Up in the Air, George Clooney’s character takes his date back to his elementary school when they visit his hometown for a wedding. It’s a great way to reminisce and share your past with the other person. If you went to college and live near yours, that’s a good option too. I bet you have some amusing stories to tell.
Volunteering for a cause that you believe in can be a satisfying and even fun way to spend a day with someone. A few ideas include helping at a pet adoption event, working at a homeless shelter, or doing a beach or park cleanup. You’ll probably learn about their level of compassion and their work ethic.
9. Clothes Shopping / Window Shopping
As someone who doesn’t enjoy clothes shopping that much, I would love to bring someone along who could help me. And there are lots of folks who actually enjoy shopping for clothing, so that can work out well if you’re like me.
I often like to pick a dinner restaurant near cool stores so that afterward we can walk around and do some window shopping.
I know lots of people who would much rather go to a bookstore than a bar. Or, maybe just peek in while waiting for your movie to start. There are still some great ones around in Los Angeles like The Last Bookstore in Downtown L.A. or Vroman’s in Pasadena and many others. Again, you’ll learn a lot about the other person by seeing what books they’re interested in!
The one common thread running through these date ideas is that they will enable you to interact with your date differently than you would over dinner at a restaurant or a movie, and that will hopefully allow you to learn more about each other.
Any other ideas? Let me know if the comments! – Brian