Think the planning and effort is done after your first date? Think again, boys. Until you’re safely in the relationship zone, it’s best to think of every date as the first one—after all, you’re still aiming to impress, right? While you should of course put effort into your relationship even after you’re ‘going steady,’ there are certain things that can fly at that point—and only at that point. With that in mind, here are seven outings to avoid until she officially becomes your girlfriend. Unless you’d like that to not, you know, ever actually happen.
1. The “Twofer” Date
In what world did you think it was a good idea to invite a girl you just met to a $5 burger-and-beer night—and ask her to pick up her own ticket? It’s not that we don’t like deals, too. And once you’re in a relationship, go ahead, use a Groupon at dinner. But early on, you have to show that you planned this date because it’s a great date, not because it’s a great deal.
2. The Sports Bar Date
Maybe she likes sports, maybe she doesn’t. That’s not really the point. When you’re still trying to get to know a girl, don’t take her to a loud bar where the focus is primarily on the 15 TV screens surrounding you. Want to bond over your shared love of the Cubs? Get tickets to the actual game instead. (Seriously. The Wrigley bleachers are a boozy, nacho-y paradise.)
You may love the filet at Outback Steakhouse—or think The Cheesecake Factory actually has a really nice vibe. But the fact remains: These are tacky chain restaurants. There’s nothing special about them.
3. The Group Date
I get it—you think your friends are so awesome, you just can’t wait to introduce your new girl to them. But, when the outing with your buddies turns into a college-nostalgia-fest—one that she can in no way relate to—she’ll be out the door faster than you can say, ‘Remember when?’
4. The Chain Date
You may love the filet at Outback Steakhouse—or think The Cheesecake Factory actually has a really nice vibe. But the fact remains: These are tacky chain restaurants. There’s nothing special about them. If, a few months into the relationship, you’re both really craving a Bloomin’ Onion, fine. But when you’re still in the ‘need-to-impress-her’ zone, please put some more thought into things.
5. The Street Festival Date
In theory, this is actually great—street festivals can be awesome. Good food, good music, good people-watching. But in reality, it’s a terrible one-of-the-first-dates. It could be so crowded that you literally have to hold on to each other to stay together. You could end up eating some awkwardly-messy street food. (Ribs? No, thank you.) You could have to yell to hear each other over the bands. These things are all fine once you’re a couple—and can just laugh about it later—so why not wait till then?
When she gives this move the ol’ Heisman stiff arm, it’s pretty clear you aren’t going to score.
6. The Movie Date
It’s dark, silent and you don’t have to pay attention to your date at all—except to awkwardly cop a feel. Easy way out much?
7. The Early Bird Date
Sunrise wakeup call the next day? Not an excuse for a 6 p.m. dinner. Dates early on in a relationship can be awkward enough without adding the empty-restaurant-except-for-families-and-old-people factor.