First Dates Men Expected To Hate (But Loved!)

Would you be willing to watch your date get her hair done? What about meeting her parents? Here, men share stories about some of their most unexpected — and enjoyable — first dates.

By Laura Schaefer

o you get a deer-in-headlights look on your face when she suggests taking in a chick flick for your very first date? Relax! There's a good chance you won't have as bad a time as you think. These guys all ventured out on dates they expected to hate and survived the experience. Better than survived, in fact — they all had fun. Memorable first dates are about spending time with someone great... no matter what you do together.

1. The planetarium
"I once had a first date at the planetarium in
The long lines provided us time to talk and get to know each other.
downtown Chicago," says Anand Bhatt, 35, a pop star and television personality. "The idea was [that] we would go to stand in line to look at Mars through the telescope they had set up outdoors. I chose the spot because it's different, but it didn't initially sound too fun — long lines, cold weather, parking woes, would we even see the planet?, etc. — but as it turned out, the date was a huge success. The long lines provided us time to talk and get to know each other; looking at the stars through a telescope is more romantic that I gave it credit for, and the cold weather provided the need for some physical proximity. It turned out [that] the date that didn't sound fun on paper launched a three-year relationship."

2. A ballet performance
"I once went to a ballet [performance] with somebody on a first date," recalls Matt Titus, coauthor of Why Hasn't He Called? New York's Top Date Doctors Reveal How Guys Really Think and How to Get the Right One Interested. "It created a lot of sexual tension, because we could not talk or touch or get near each other. Not being able to say anything really connected me to her. The girl was so hot, I would have gone to a funeral with her — but the ballet was like the next worst thing I could imagine before I actually went."

3. A park
"When I first started dating and began my own experimentation with interesting dating spots, I tried just going on a date in a park," remembers Adam LoDolce, the Boston-based author of Being Alone Sucks! "I thought that it would be boring and unexciting, but it turned into a really fun experience. We played on the jungle gym, teased one another on our lack of ability to climb up the slide, and ended up having a real, genuine connection. Sometimes, different is great."

4. The family hair salon
"We met playing a gig," explains Jamie Kember, 28, a musician living in Madison, WI. "She let me stay at her place in between shows so that I didn't have to make the long trek home, and then asked me to come along [with her] to get a haircut. Turns out most of the women in her family get their hair cut by her mom all on the same day, so I walked into a kitchen full of women getting their hair done. We spent most of an afternoon there talking with four generations of her family, and then we played another show together that night. It was a lot of fun.
The venue is never going to be the make-or-break issue.
I was just happy to be with her; [it] didn't matter what we were doing."

5. A museum
"From experience, I can say going to a museum is typically the date idea that gets bashed. Men think it's too boring and nothing can happen," says Thomas Edwards Jr., CEO of The Professional Wingman. "Once they actually go on the date, however, they change their minds. Some have 'First Nights,' where they open it up to the public and it becomes more of a lively event, with drinks being served and people socializing. But even without that, the amount of conversation at any normal time at the museum that evolves while checking out art is something that surprises most men. Also, most of that conversation has to be close and personal, because you can't be too loud. In return, it provokes physical contact, which is always a good thing."

6. Her parents' house
"Heading home with your date to La Casa Del Parentos may sound like one creepy detour, but when we bit the bullet and gave it a shot with a pair of twins, we found a bounty of endless snacks, an open bar, and every cable channel imaginable (Boardwalk Empire galore!)," recounts New Yorker Ethan Fixell, who is one half of the double-dating comedy duo, Dave And Ethan. "The night was perfect — that is, until their mom and dad came home and caught us in a four-way makeout session..."

7. An arts and crafts fair
"One time I was dragged to an arts and crafts fair, and thought it was the end of my manhood," says dating coach David Wygant. "I was so bored, and then [I] saw a booth with custom leather work and had this super-cool guy make me a great wallet that I still have 19 years later. It showed me that no matter where you are, you can have fun and find some great things."

8. A dive bar
"It's not about the spot, it's about the person," says Evan Marc Katz, the Los Angeles-based author of Why He Disappeared. "In my book, I talk about this man who took a woman on a date and found the restaurant they wanted to go to was closed, so they're walking around the blustery streets and they can't find an open place. Finally, they find a spot with terrible food, and after that, they went to a dive-y bowling alley. On its face: a disaster! But the couple liked each other, so it didn't matter. As for myself, I once went rollerblading with a girl and then split a brown-bagged 40 oz. with her. It was spontaneous, good, stupid fun! The venue is never going to be the make-or-break issue."

Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls and Planet Explorers New York City: A Travel Guide for Kids.

For the other side of this story, read: First Dates She Thought She'd Hate (But Loved!).

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