Neha Mehta, a 32-year-old Mumbai-based entrepreneur is sick of first dates. “They are all the same now. We ask the same questions, highlight our hobbies and our resumes,” she says. “We try to show the best versions of ourselves in one night, a span of just two or three hours. It’s exhausting.”
It isn’t easy. While finding love itself can be daunting, the addition of dating fatigue makes the pressure to be in a relationship all the more exhausting. First date fatigue usually comes from having been through this a few times already. And it is debilitatingly real.
A few years ago, I was in Mumbai for a two-day work trip that gave me almost no time to plan a date with a man I had been chatting with for a few weeks. Our conversations had evolved enough to make us both want to meet in person. Since I had only four hours to spare, he told me would plan it all.
On the day of our date, he sent me a location on WhatsApp. His pin was on a busy street in Versova, packed with cafes and restaurants. When I reached, I looked around for him and there he stood, in a white t-shirt and jeans, no flowers or chocolates in his hands, but a wide grin on his face and a sign above him that read, The Cat Café Studio.
Four years later, I still tell anyone who asks, that the date that my now-husband had planned was one of the best first dates I’ve had. For several reasons: first, I love cats and second, because I had told him this only in passing, and I never thought that he would act upon it in this way.
As I’ve learnt, planning a unique, unconventional meeting isn’t just refreshing, it may also help you drop your walls around your date.
Here are 6 first-date ideas that can help you make a lasting impression:
1. Do you both have a sweet tooth? Instead of meeting for dessert, sign up for a baking or cooking class. If the date doesn’t go well, at least you had dessert!
2. If you two are the artsy kinds, find an art gallery; walking through the halls, looking at the paintings around and talking about your own interpretations can help you both see sides of yourselves and each other that you would have missed in a noisy bar.
3. In case you spoke about your love for the city you live in, its heritage or wildlife, try a cycling or walking tour. Either head out on your own, or join a tour with local enthusiasts and groups. Sharing a sense of wonder together is always special.
4. Go to an animal shelter (or a pet-friendly cafe) and spend the day with furry friends.
5. Play a sport together. It could be an outdoor one like tennis, or indoors at an arcade or bowling alley, it would be interesting to see how your date reacts to both winning and losing.
6. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a Mystery Room. An hour spent locked in a room with puzzles and riddles might give you insights you didn’t know you needed!
Bonus tip: If you feel like you’re still on the fence about the activity, rope your date into the conversation – that itself could be a fun, first date conversation that could help pull you two closer in a unique way.
Richa Sheth is a freelancer writer based in Pune. She explores complexities within human interactions and relationships.