If you are like most Americans, you probably opt to meet your date at a nearby Starbucks. There are several reasons why Starbucks is such a popular destination for first dates. To start with – they are everywhere and easy to find and recognize with their green two-tailed mermaid logo. The second reason is that Starbucks offers a non-committal meeting environment. You get a cup-to-go, and if you don’t like your date, after a few minutes you say goodbye, take your to-go cup and get up and go. Your day/evening is still ahead of you and you’ve got your coffee too.
But what if people approached dating a little bit differently? A first date at Starbucks signals that you don’t want to risk your time and energy on the other person before you know this person is worth it. What if you approach dating as an opportunity to meet someone new and do things that you both enjoy doing, like walking your dogs in the park, go to the museum to see an exhibition, or do wine tasting together. Do something that you would do by yourself anyway, but now you can have company and possibly a nice experience, even if this person doesn’t turn out to be who you are looking for as a partner. Naturally, this approached requires that you do a better screening of the people that you meet with, and find out about them more in advance. You might not end up with three dates a week, but to have a positive dating experience it’s better to focus on the quality rather than the quantity.
I have a friend who is a veteran of Starbucks first dates. When she first met her partner through an online dating site, she didn’t think much of him. His profile did not contain all the right ingredients that she was looking for in a man. But this guy dared her to go out for dinner with him, just to have fun and enjoy good food with no expectations. She relented. “I didn’t bother dressing up or putting on makeup,” she told me. This dinner encounter turned out to be the start of a serious long-term relationship.
When you go out with the mind-set of having fun and being curious to know a new person, most chances are that dating is going to be an adventure by itself - instead of means to an end. Think of JFK’s famous phrase and apply it to dating: Don’t ask what this person can do for you, but what you can do for/with this person.