Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Kyle J. Byard.
When I was in elementary school I had to do an essay on part of my family history. My father suggested I interview my grandfather and have him tell me of how he met and eventually married my grandmother. I remember thinking it was a little bit silly that one of the dates my grandparents went on was to see a 3D movie. Even as a kid I remember thinking that a 3D movie wasn’t particularly romantic, but now that I’ve gotten older, dated, and gotten married, I’ve come to realize that my grandfather was actually on to something.
It seems to me that a lot of men these days believe dates fall into one of three categories:
2. A movie
3. Dinner and a movie
Put yourself in the shoes of the girl who’s agreed to go out with you. Even if she likes you she’s taking a chance by going out with you. The modern world is a busy place with a lot of things to occupy our time. A date needs to be memorable in order to set you apart from other potential suitors and frankly you’re not going to stand out going with the old dinner and a movie routine.
So I’ve decided to list a few suggestions that will help you plan a date that will stick with a girl long after it’s over. Even if the relationship doesn’t end up working out there’s still some gratification that the dates you took her on may very well become the standard by which she judges any dates she goes on in the future.
Suggestion #1: Your First Date Is the “Conversation Date”
In junior high “going out” meant that you claimed to be somebody’s “boyfriend” (it usually helped if the girl in question agreed to be your “girlfriend”). You didn’t even have to talk to the girl to be considered “a couple.” Well it’s time to man up!
No matter how well you think you know a person there is always more to learn about them. Therefore the first date should be memorable and fun but should also be conducive to conversation. That means no movies. There’s no way to talk during a movie without annoying a bunch of people who shelled out ten bucks for a ticket—not something that you want to do.
I know you’re thinking, “Well that’s fine, I’ll just take her out to dinner,” but that might not be the best option either. Dinner can be problematic for several reasons. Some women tend to be a little bit self-conscious about their dining habits (including the foods they order and the way they eat). In many ways, eating is a more intimate activity than we often give it credit for. Also, the gentleman in training may forget to slow his pace when it comes to shoveling down whatever succulent slab of meat he decided to order enough to actually have a conversation with the living, breathing human being across the table from him.
Besides, who wants to spend the rest of the night wondering if they have asparagus stuck in their teeth?
Instead of centering on watching each other chew, a good first date will provide plenty of opportunities for interaction as well as cater to the common interests of you and your date.
This brings me to my second suggestion.
Suggestion #2: Do Things That She’s Interested In
This is especially nice on the first date because it shows you’ve taken the time to find out a little bit about her interests, but it’s equally important on subsequent dates as well.
As an example, my wife likes to play tennis. She used to play for her high school tennis team, but when she came to college she didn’t have much time to play anymore. It was a perfect date opportunity because it was something she enjoyed doing but didn’t get to do very much because she had no one to play with. It didn’t even matter that I’m a terrible tennis player—in fact she seemed to enjoy making me run all over the court. I was of course a good sport about it, and it ended up being highly enjoyable for both of us.
If you don’t know a girl too well, her blog or Facebook page could be excellent sources of information. Read her blog and look through her favorites to see what sort of things she likes doing. I wouldn’t suggest making your date feel like you are Facebook stalking her, but if she asks where you came up with the idea for the date it’s best to be honest and say something along the lines of, “I saw on your blog that you’re interested in (insert name of activity here),” and leave it at that.
Later in the relationship you will likely find common interests, and those will be perfect platforms for dates that you will both be able to enjoy as you grow closer together.
Suggestion #3: Do Something Unique or Novel
This is where my little anecdote about my grandparents and the 3D movie comes in (I know you were wondering when I was going to tie that in). While 3D seems to be the newest scheme to suck ridiculous amounts of money out of moviegoers, back in the 1950s it was a rather novel concept. My grandpa gets mad points for doing something a little bit “out there.”
Not only will unique and novel dates give you easy fodder for making conversation, but the excitement they generate will bond you together.
Take a drawing or cooking class. Go kayaking. Play some Frisbee golf. Go see an interesting art exhibit or visit a museum.
The idea is to get out and actually do something. Most men have the idea of the passive date ingrained in their heads, but an active date will always be much more memorable.
Suggestion #4: Get Cooking
They say the key to a man’s heart is his stomach; well the same is true for women, too.
Remember, cooking is manly . If you want to have a dinner date then skip the restaurant and save a little money (but don’t be cheap!) and whip up something amazing in the kitchen.
If you want to really surprise her the next time she invites you over, show up with a box of cooking supplies, commandeer her kitchen, and impress her with your culinary prowess. Just don’t leave a mess! (It’s important that you be invited over for this to work because you don’t want to show up without giving her ample time to tidy up; she’ll just be annoyed, not impressed.)
Don’t know how to cook? Well start learning! Learning new skills is manly. If you have some patience and you know how to read then cooking shouldn’t give you too much trouble. My wife and I like to check the website allrecipes.com  for ideas. Matt Moore always offers some good suggestions here on AoM . Or you could also just download the Art of Manliness Man Cookbook  and whip her up something manly and delicious.
I hope my suggestions have given you some ideas in terms of how to make dates a little more memorable. What are your suggestions for interesting dates?