Surfing dating blogs, as I tend to do when I’m a little bored, I’m surprised at the vitriol often levelled at coffee as a choice of a first date: the concept of sitting in Starbucks, or Nero or Costa or an independent café selling coffee and cake, for a date, is a furious point of debate it seems. I’m usually taken aback as I find them effective and flexible in ascertaining whether it is worth meeting for something more substantial. For me, the point of any first date is to see if there is chemistry. I’m going to presume that the anti coffee brigade think dinner at an expensive restaurant is the better option. Here then is the most thorough defence I can mount:
- Filtering out the dinner whores
I see a lot of complaints from men on the POF and OKCupid forums about women whose only interest is in a free meal. The point of a first date is the excitement of meeting somebody new so if a woman turns her nose up at you spending a few pounds on a coffee and maybe a slice of cake then the chances are she’s not really interested in you so much as what you’re prepared to spend to impress her. Save yourself the hassle and the money because chances are, once you paid for a three course meal at The Fat Duck, you won’t see her again. Also ask yourself whether – depending on your success – you can afford to do this every week or several times a week with different women
- Short and sweet
Imagine if you turn up for a date with a gorgeous 30 year old professional woman – to discover she is twenty years older, 40lb heavier, unemployed and despite saying that she is childless, apologises for being late because the childminder let her down. You don’t want to stay because she has been dishonest but you don’t want to make a scene either and now and you are stuck for two hours or more with a woman for whom you have no respect left. With coffee you can have one and then walk away after 30 minutes.
- Crank it up
If she’s impressed then she is going to expect to be impressed with the second date even more (arguably the more intimate date). Can you really to afford to keep upping the ante? Can the dates keep getting more and more imaginative? What’s wrong with biding your time and letting a slow build up create a comfortable rapport? Coffee first, then lunch, then dinner.
- Style over substance
Maybe it is just me but the concept of an expensive dinner date as a first date seems an exercise purely of showmanship, of advertising, of style over substance. Again, maybe it is just me but it all seems like a distraction away from what is really supposed to be happeneing here: two people seeing if there is a connection between them. Like Christmas, it is too easy to be distracted by the glitz, the charade, the shiny things and ignore what’s important. “He/she made me laugh” is more important than “oooooh chandaliers”.
- Too serious
If the conversation really starts to flow on a coffee date, nobody will notice. If voices get raised in an exclusive restaurant, everybody notices. And laughter? Forget it! Never underestimate the power of laughter on any date and if you can’t raise your voice with intense conversation or laugh on a first date you are killing two of the biggest indicators of that all important connection.
- Beer goggles
I guess not a term familiar to my American readership so let me explain: you go on a date with somebody. They’re ok, pleasant, not particularly funny, not especially good looking but passable. You’ll enjoy the date but you doubt you’ll see them again. Nothing wrong with them, it is just that you’re not feeling it. A few glasses of wine later and… they’re actually quite attractive. They’re making you laugh… And wow, what gorgeous eyes… what a lovely smile. Nice hair… I want a kiss tonight… how did you think this person was ever ‘just ok’? That’s the alcohol taking you along in the moment. Nothing’s changed except your inhibitions and it affects your judgement in presenting them as more attractive than they’d be otherwise. There’s no alcohol on a coffee date but there is usually wine with dinner.
Well, that’s that. Anybody want to argue that a posh dinner is still the better option for a first date?