As the air gets colder, the sweaters get thicker and the holiday season is almost upon us, another time of year is quickly approaching: cuffing season.
Before you can start planning the soft-launch of your new boo on social media, you probably need to lay some groundwork with a couple of first dates. Any initial encounters with a new romantic prospect can be awkward – especially if you’re meeting someone for the first time – but don’t let that deter you from finding love this holiday season.
We’ve gathered some ideas for a first, second and third date with a potential partner:
First date: a drink
Let’s be honest, a first date doesn’t need to last more than two hours — it just needs to be long enough to get a solid vibe check. You don’t want something so short that you can’t get acquainted, but getting stuck on a never-ending date with someone that’s just not doing it for you can be a nightmare scenario.
Grabbing cocktails, coffee or hot chocolate is the magic formula for being able to avoid those extreme situations.
Hit up a local happy hour on your first date for a low stakes conversation and focus on gauging your potential boo’s personality. If you’re both having a great time, you can order a couple more, and if you’re not, throw the first drink back and head out.
Plus, if you’re someone who gets nervous on dates, chatting over a cocktail could help take the edge off and ease both of you into a more natural conversation.
Some great deals close to campus can be found here. Or, if you’re looking for someplace off campus, El Centro in Georgetown, Service Bar on U Street or St. Vincent Wine near Columbia Heights are perfect for a first time meetup.
Second date: low-key activity
So you want to see this person again – how exciting. There can be a lot of grey area when it comes to a second date: you can keep it quick and casual like date No. 1 or sit down for a real dinner. You can still up the ante without getting too serious by doing a low-key activity together.
Visiting a farmer’s market can be fun and allows you both to chat while shopping. It might also give you an unexpected insight into this person’s interests. They might be buying ingredients for a whole home cooked meal or maybe they head straight for the craft cider table and circle back to the butcher tent for a breakfast sandwich.
You could grab a bagel from the Call Your Mother Deli stand at Dupont Circle’s FRESHFARM Market and chat about why the bagels from your hometown in New Jersey are still the best you’ve ever had in the outrageously long line. Or buy tacos from El Sabor del Taco’s food truck at the FRESHFARM Market in Columbia Heights. From there you can stroll the booths while eating, getting to know each other and, hopefully, getting primed for date No. 3.
Another option for a low-key second date activity is a stroll through a D.C. neighborhood with lots of activity. Georgetown is an obvious choice because of its proximity to campus, waterfront views and bustling M Street shopping district, but Eastern Market, Chinatown and The Wharf are also great options.
Maybe the date is going exceedingly well and you stop in to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Or maybe you misjudged after the first date and cut it short after the first two stores you stop into.
Third date: easy excursion
By the third date, you’ve likely got a positive outlook on this person. The chemistry is there, you’ve vetted any red flags and you’re thinking this person may be “cuff-able.”
This time, suggest an easy excursion. Not to sound like a tour guide, but seriously, take advantage of all the museums and exhibits in D.C. for date spots. Interactive exhibits are more exciting than your basic Air and Space Museum visit, and the colorful lighting in exhibits like the one at ARTECHOUSE can set a romantic ambience.
Janet Echelman’s new exhibit at the Renwick even encourages visitors to lie down on the carpet under the dynamically-changing light installations to contemplate the work – a perfect excuse to get a little cozy with your new boo, in the name of art, of course.
Another exciting option could be finding a small concert to attend together. D.C. is home to plenty of smaller concert venues like the 9:30 Club, Union Stage, Songbyrd and Comet Ping Pong that you can enjoy shows at without breaking the bank.
A concert could be an ideal way to bond over shared music taste, vet their go-to concert dancing skills and bond over a shared exciting experience. Since attending concerts also requires a little bit of planning, you can get a glimpse into how your prospective love interest handles responsibility.
If they lose their email confirmation and forget to take a picture of their vaccination card, you’ve detected a red flag. On the other hand, they might come prepared with both of your tickets, a water bottle and plans for a post-concert drink and you could be on your way to hopefully falling in love.