7 ideas for first dates to get to know someone quickly

I finally downloaded Hinge on March 1, 2020, when I was ready to give dating another try after a messy relationship had ended. We all know what happened about two weeks later: COVID hit, and dating had to take a pause. But as we learned to adjust our lives to an ongoing pandemic, dating changed to fit with the times. It’s easy to feel like the pandemic stole away valuable time to find a potential partner, especially if you had certain milestones in mind, like getting married or having kids in the near future. My dating life during the early days of the pandemic was mostly virtual and involved multiple instances of ghosting. But once I was vaccinated, I was ready for something more serious and purposeful. Turns out, so are a lot of other people. Two of the biggest dating trends of 2022 so far are choosing priorities — deciding what you want and being honest and upfront with potential partners from the jump — and increased vulnerability and mindfulness — actually being open and letting people in, rather than jumping from situationship to situationship. In other words, people are choosing to date more efficiently. Dr. John De Oca, a relationship expert and nurse practitioner, says the first step in efficient dating is defining your goal, whether it’s that you want a casual relationship, you want to date to learn more about yourself and what you want for your romantic life, or you’re ready for commitment. “So, going down one of those avenues and being very clear about it, both in how you interact with people and in your own mindset as well,” De Oca said. SEE ALSO: 4 of the top dating trends for 2022, so far As for any supposed milestones, De Oca discourages his clients from chasing them and instead promotes dating in terms of what feels right. “We want to make sure that we’re dating people that meet our relationship goals vs. just dating people that are going to get us to our goals because we want to be in longterm relationships,” De Oca said. To execute an efficient dating life, De Oca suggests taking advantage of the time before you go on a first date — especially if you’re online dating. He says to talk on the phone, have a FaceTime conversation, and be deliberate with the types of questions you're asking. For instance, says De Oca, if you know your love language is physical touch, ask the person how affectionate they are. Use this time to pre-screen the person and actually get to know them vs. mindlessly talking to people and just saying, “Good morning” and “What’s up?” Once you do get to that first date, you have the opportunity to get tons of insight as to whether or not the person is a good fit for what you’re looking for. You don’t want to go on just any first date, though, if you’re trying to date efficiently — some dates are much better than others when it comes to getting to know people quickly. You won’t be able to get the absolute complete picture of a person just from one date, but if you know what you’re looking for, what personality traits you want in a partner, and what gives you the ick, these first dates can help you dig that up faster. Just remember to set your dating goals and keep them in mind as you go out on dates. SEE ALSO: Looking for love? These are the most popular dating sites and apps, according to actual users. Dinner and/or drinks Dinner and drinks is a classic date for a reason. De Oca says “anything that stimulates conversation, any kind of environment where you could lean into one another and get to know each other” makes for a great first date if you’re trying to date efficiently. Informationally, it's a treasure trove: You're seated across from each other, and all you really have to do is talk (and eat). If you want to find out how the person carries on a conversation, get the chance to ask about their childhood, see how they eat (hopefully with their mouth shut), and learn how they treat a waitstaff, dinner and drinks is a stellar choice. People-watching at the park two people sitting on a picnic blanket Credit: Bob Al-Greene / Mashable People-watching is fun, but it can also be a great test. You’ll see how your date speaks about other people, what they’re judgmental about, and if they have funny commentary or are a straight-up bully. (Look for a person who has something quippy to say about how someone’s interacting with their dog vs. something that’s simply mean about someone’s appearance.) Plus, observing other people automatically gives you a jumping-off point for conversation, whereas sitting across from each other at a dinner table can lead you to feel like you have to pull conversation topics out of your ass. You still get the close-up talking, but without the awkward silences when you’re trying to slurp spaghetti without looking feral. A game like mini-golf or bowling Doing an activity helps prevent awkward pauses. And you get to see the other person's competitive side and if they’re a real-life version of the Hinge prompt red flag, “I’m overly competitive about: everything.” De Oca says, “I think an activity is always good because it kinda gets the adrenaline pumping.” But you also want some down time where you can actually have a conversation, he adds, so don’t focus too hard on winning, and remember to actually vet your date’s personality along with their sportsmanship. SEE ALSO: The best dating sites for introverts, wallflowers, and anyone hesitant to try online dating Trivia Intelligence is up there on the list of qualities people look for in a partner, and while trivia is not the most accurate test of intelligence — I mean, who actually knows what cynophobia is? — it's a good test of common sense and problem-solving. (Cynophobia is the fear of dogs, btw.) You can learn how the person handles stress, if they get frustrated when they’re wrong or don’t know an answer, how well they listen to you, and how the two of you work together as a team. Go for a drink afterward to digest the questions and talk about something other than random facts you’ll forget by the end of the night. Bottomless brunch If you want to see how someone holds their liquor, pump them full of mimosas at 11 a.m. Brunch holds less pressure than a dinner date, but still promotes conversation and lets you see how they act toward service industry workers (and if they offer to pick up the tab, or how well they tip). De Oca is not a big fan of coffee dates because they tend to be very quick, but brunch fits the daytime bill, is more fun, and gives you time to get to know your date. Just don’t get so boozy you forget to ask the right questions to suss out whether this person fits into your goals. Comedy show One of my personal favorites, a comedy show is great for weeding people out if a compatible sense of humor is important to you. If you aren’t laughing at the same jokes, a second date probably isn’t even worth it. And if they’re laughing at some questionable jokes, you get a sense of their morals pretty easily. You won’t have much opportunity to chat during the show, so plan to do something else afterward to talk about the acts and about yourselves. SEE ALSO: These dating sites are actually good for finding a serious relationship Bookstore If you like romance novels, a bookstore date will have you feeling like the main character of one. Browsing the aisles can spark conversation about your interests and topics you might not think to bring up on your own. Plus, you can see if they’re pretentious about what they read and if they dog on a genre you love. If you feel a connection on the date and want a second, you can buy each other a book to read so you already have something to discuss when you meet up next. Cooking together two people with oven mitts and steaming pie Credit: Vicky Leta / Mashable Cooking can really show people’s true colors. Like trivia or an activity, making a meal together shows how you work as a team. And, in the kitchen, you have the added bonus of seeing how well they follow instructions, how they communicate (extra points if you’re working in a small space), and how they clean up (which may be useful information for the future). There’s also plenty of room for personal conversation as things cook and as you sit down to eat the meal together. Of course, this will require one of you to go to the other’s home, so only do it if you feel safe and comfortable. Skating (ice or roller) One of my favorite first dates involved rollerblading around a park in Brooklyn; it showed me that the guy was down for anything, and we were both comfortable with the potential to make fools out of ourselves. If you’re skating at a rink, going around in circles gets pretty repetitive, which can inspire you to fill the silence with talking. Skating is also an excuse to hold hands if you're wanting to test the waters on the whole getting physical front. Like some of the other activity dates mentioned, you might want to plan a second half to this date for when your legs start getting tired. My date ended with takeaway drinks and food in the park. (While we did have a few more dates after that, unfortunately, he was one of the ghosters mentioned earlier.) Meet up with your friends You still want one-on-one time with the person, so don’t make this the whole date, but have a friend crash the date or intentionally plan to meet up with your friends after the main date activity. You’ll be able to see how they interact with the people in your day-to-day life and if they’d be a good fit in your other relationships. This also gives your friends a chance to weigh in and see how you act around your date and if they bring out good sides to you. If you want the chance to fully be one-on-one the first date, this is also a good idea for a second or third date. By then, you'll know better how you feel about the person and might have specific things you want your friends to look out for. Protest or rally If you’re super into activism, you probably want a partner who is, too. And inviting someone to a protest for a first date shows them you’re serious about your beliefs and reveals whether they’re into the same causes as you. It’s almost impossible to not talk about deeper issues on a date like this, so you’ll really get to the core of who they are as a person. We suggest continuing the date with something a little less intense, so you can both show off your lighter sides as well. SEE ALSO: Best dating sites for working professionals who don't have time to meet people IRL Regardless of what type of first date you go on, De Oca says to pay attention to the kinds of behaviors you’re seeing in the other person. Are they consistent in how they talk to you over text and in person? Are they giving off red flags that are only going to get worse as time goes on? Or are they showing total go signs that warrant a follow-up date? When it comes to dating, one of my friends once told me, “If it’s not a ‘fuck yes,’ it’s a no.” But De Oca has some different advice: “If we’re not overwhelmed with the amount of dates we’re getting, let’s have more second dates than not second dates,” he said. “If it was not a hard no, let’s have a second date.” De Oca encourages giving people the opportunity to reveal themselves slowly; after all, some people take more time to come out of their shells, and you might miss out on someone great if you're in too much of a rush. Just because you’re dating efficiently doesn’t mean you have to speed through people. Take your time and have fun figuring out what works for you.

7 ideas for first dates to get to know someone quickly

7 ideas for first dates to get to know someone quickly.

On March 1, 2020, I finally downloaded Hinge because I was ready to attempt dating again after a turbulent relationship ended. We all know what occurred approximately two weeks later: COVID struck, and dating had to take a break.

However, as humanity learned to adapt to a persistent epidemic, dating adapted to reflect the times.

It’s simple to think that the epidemic snatched away precious time for you to locate a spouse, particularly if you had certain milestones in mind, like getting married or starting a family soon.

My dating life during the early days of the epidemic was primarily virtual and includes many instances of ghosting. But after receiving my shot, I was prepared for a more serious and intentional endeavor.

It turns out that many other individuals are as well. Prioritizing your dating life by deciding what you want and being open and honest with potential partners from the start, as well as practicing increased vulnerability and mindfulness by actually letting people into your life rather than hopping from relationship to relationship, are two of the biggest dating trends of 2022 so far. In other words, individuals are choosing to date more efficiently.

Whether you desire a casual relationship, want to date to learn more about yourself and what you want from your love life, or are ready for commitment, Dr. John De Oca, a relationship specialist and nurse practitioner, believes the first step in effective dating is establishing your objective.

De Oca advised choosing one of those paths and being extremely clear about it in both your interactions with others and your personal attitude.


Regarding any alleged milestones, De Oca advises his clients not to pursue them and instead to date based on their gut feelings.

Because we want to be in long-term relationships, De Oca added, “We want to make sure that we’re dating individuals who fulfill our relationship objectives rather than simply dating people that are going to bring us to our goals.”

De Oca advises making the most of the time before a first date, particularly if you’re online dating, to carry out an effective dating life. He advises speaking with someone over the phone or FaceTime and being thoughtful about the questions you ask.

As an example, De Oca suggests asking the individual how loving they are if you are aware that your love language is physical contact. Instead of blindly chatting with people and simply saying “Good morning” and “What’s up,” use this time to pre-screen them and get to know them.

When you finally go on that first date, you have a great chance to learn a lot about whether or not the other person is a suitable match for what you’re searching for.

But if you want to date effectively, you shouldn’t go on any first date; certain dates are considerably better than others for fast getting to know someone.

One date won’t offer you the whole picture of someone, but if you know what you’re looking for, what character characteristics you value in a relationship, and what makes you uncomfortable, these first dates may speed up the process. Just keep in mind to create your dating objectives and keep them in mind when on dates.


Supper and/or beverages


The traditional date involves dinner and drinks for a reason. According to De Oca, if you’re attempting to date effectively, “anything that promotes dialogue, any type of situation where you might lean into one another and get to know one other” makes for a fantastic first date.

You’re sat across from each other, and all you really need to do is communicate, so it’s a treasure mine of information (and eat).

Dinner and drinks is a great option if you want to discover more about the individual, including how they carry themselves in conversation, how they eat (preferably with their mouth shut), and how they interact with the wait staff.


It’s entertaining to observe people, but it may also be a terrific test. You may judge your date’s judgemental tendencies, how they talk about other people, and if they make humorous comments or act bullishly. (Seek for someone who isn’t just being cruel about someone’s looks, but has something witty to say about how someone is behaving with their dog.)

Additionally, witnessing other people provides you with conversation starters right away, but sitting across from someone at a dining table may make you feel like you have to dig out conversation subjects from your ass.

Without the uncomfortable silences that result from attempting to slurp pasta without seeming ferocious, you still get the close-up chatting.

Anything like bowling or mini-golf


Getting something done helps avoid uncomfortable pauses. And you get to see the other person’s competitive side and whether they’re a real-life version of the Hinge prompt red flag, “I’m too competitive about: everything.”

According to De Oca, engaging in an activity is usually beneficial since it type of raises the heart rate. Don’t concentrate only on winning, he advises; you also want some quiet time when you can really talk. Instead, consider your date’s personality as well as their sportsmanship.

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Trivia While trivia is not the most accurate measure of intelligence (I mean, who genuinely knows what cynophobia is? ), it is an excellent test of common sense and problem-solving skills. Intelligence is among the attributes individuals strive for in a spouse.

(Cynophobia, by the way, is a fear of dogs.) By seeing how someone responds to pressure, how well they listen to you, and how the two of you collaborate, you may find out how they deal with mistakes or when they don’t know the answer.

After the interview, go out for a drink to process the questions and engage in conversation about anything other than obscure details you’ll soon forget.

Unlimited brunch


At 11 a.m., pour someone a pitcher of mimosas to see how they handle alcohol. Compared to a dinner date, brunch is less stressful but still encourages discussion and allows you to see how they treat those who work in the service sector (and if they offer to pick up the tab, or how well they tip).

Brunch fits the bill for a daytime date, is more enjoyable, and provides you time to get to know your date, according to De Oca, who dislikes coffee dates since they are sometimes quite brief.

Just be careful not to become too drunk that you forget to determine if this person matches with your objectives by asking the correct questions.

Comedy program


A comedy show, one of my personal favorites, is excellent for sifting out folks if having a similar sense of humor is vital to you. If you aren’t laughing at the same jokes, a second date definitely isn’t even worth it.

And if they’re laughing at some dubious jokes, you can fairly readily tell what their principles are.

You won’t have much time to converse during the performance, so make plans to meet up somewhere else afterward to speak about the performances and yourselves.


Bookstore


A bookshop date will make you feel like the lead character in a romance novel if you like reading them. Aisle-hopping might elicit discussion about your hobbies and subjects you would not otherwise think to bring up.

Additionally, you may determine whether they are dogmatic about a certain genre or arrogant about what they read.

If you like each other’s company and decide to go on another date, consider buying a book for each other to read beforehand so you’ll have something to talk about when you do.


Cooking may definitely reveal a person’s genuine character. Making a meal together displays how you operate as a team, much as trivia or activity does.

Additionally, you may see how effectively they follow directions, communicate (plus points if you’re working in a confined area), and clean up in the kitchen (which may be useful information for the future).

Additionally, there is plenty of time for private conversations while the dinner is prepared and served. Naturally, this will require one of you to travel to the residence of the other, so only proceed if you feel secure and at ease.

Skating (ice or roller)


One of my greatest first dates featured us rollerblading around a Brooklyn park. This demonstrated to me that the man was up for anything and that we were both okay with the possibility of embarrassing ourselves.

Going in circles when skating at a rink is rather monotonous, which may prompt you to chat to pass the time.

If you want to explore the idea of becoming physical, skating might be an excuse to hold hands. You may wish to schedule the second half of this exercise daily for when your legs begin to fatigue, similar to some of the other activity dates previously discussed.

My date concluded at the park with takeout food and beverages. We did go on a couple more dates after that, but he ended up being one of the ghosts we spoke about previously.

Meet your pals there.


Don’t make this the whole date since you still want one-on-one time with the individual. Instead, have a buddy crash the event or make plans to meet up with pals after the main date activity.

You’ll be able to see how they interact with the individuals you encounter on a daily basis and determine if they would fit in well with your existing connections.

This provides your friends an opportunity to comment and observe how you behave while you’re on your date to see whether they bring out your best qualities. This is also a wonderful option for a second or third date if you want the opportunity to really be one-on-one the first time.

When that time comes, you’ll be more aware of your feelings toward the individual and maybe have particular things you want your friends to keep an eye out for.

Rallies or protests


You definitely want a spouse who is as passionate about activism if you are. Additionally, bringing someone on a first date to a demonstration demonstrates your commitment to your convictions and helps you determine if they share your passion for the same causes.

On a date like this, it’s practically hard to avoid discussing deeper topics, so you’ll truly get the essence of who they are as a person. We advise continuing the date with a less strenuous activity so you can both exhibit your lighter sides.

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No matter what sort of first date you go on, De Oca advises paying attention to the actions the other person exhibits. Do they communicate with you in a consistent manner both in person and over text?

Do they exhibit warning signs that will only deteriorate with time? Or are they giving out strong signals that call for a second meeting?

One of my pals once said, “If it’s not a ‘fuck yeah,’ it’s a no” when it comes to dating. A different piece of advice comes from De Oca: “If we’re not overwhelmed with the quantity of dates we’re receiving, let’s have more second dates than not second dates,” he added. “Let’s go on another date if it wasn’t a harsh no.”

De Oca recommends allowing individuals the chance to unveil themselves gradually; after all, some people need more time to come out of their shells, and if you’re in a hurry, you can lose out on someone special.

You don’t have to rush through dates just because you’re dating effectively. Have fun and take your time finding out what will work for you.

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