If you think all good first date ideas require you to spend a ton of money, think again. Romantic movies and sitcoms like to spread the idea that women need to be swept off their feet with a super-expensive dinner. Some gold-digging women will spout this propaganda too (and who can blame them, I guess?).
But, for the most part, it’s actually not true! In fact, splashing some serious cash on a first date could actually HURT you. And not just financially…
In this article, we’ll explain why cheap dates are actually better than fancy ones and share 6 good first ideas that won’t break the bank.
Good First Date Ideas: 4 Reasons Why Cheaper Is Better
Even if you have plenty of money to spend on a first date, it’s usually better to keep it in your wallet. Here are four reasons why.
Expensive dates might make her uncomfortable
If she’s not the type of woman who is used to fancy cocktail bars and five-star restaurants, it might make her uncomfortable going to one with you.
She’s going to worry about what to wear, how long it’ll take to get ready, how to behave appropriately. This will make her feel stifled and nervous on the date, like she can’t be herself. That’s if she turns up on the date at all.
In most cases, if a woman feels too uncomfortable about a date, she’ll find an excuse to cancel. That’s why it’s better to organize something more casual for a first date. When it’s easy for her to prepare and feel relaxed, she’ll be more likely to turn up and have a great time.
Expensive dates can come across as too try-hard
It’s a fine balance. Women like when a man is rich and successful, but they hate when he tries to use his money to impress her. It’s a safer bet to organize a cheaper date and impress her with your personality.
It frames you as her “provider”
When attempting to seduce a woman, men can frame themselves as a “lover” or a “provider.”
The “lover” is a fun guy who she can fool around with that doesn’t expect anything too serious. The “provider” wants to prove he’s a stable partner who can take care of her.
A woman can categorize you as one or the other, based on your behaviour. What’s more, she will treat you differently based on what category she places you in.
To impress a “lover,” she’ll show off her wild side. She’ll be fun and adventurous. Often, she’ll jump into bed quickly and screw him like crazy. To impress a “provider,” she’ll show off her innocent side. She’ll make you wait for sex. She won’t give away any clues about her wild past.
It’s up to you what side of her you want to see. But an expensive first date will absolutely frame you as a “provider” in her eyes.
Expensive first date ideas can set a precedent of generosity
As Chris Rock famously said: “Men can’t go backwards sexually. Women can’t go backwards in lifestyle.”
So, if you’re pulling out all the stops on the first date, that’s the bar you’re setting for your whole relationship. Even if you can afford this, you’re still causing yourself the problem of having to go over the top to really impress her in the future. How are you going to outdo yourself on the second date, third date, birthdays, anniversaries?
6 Good First Date Ideas that Are Cheap as Chips
A cheap first date idea doesn’t have to be a boring one. In fact, there are plenty of inexpensive dates that are good first date ideas. Remember, it’s YOU that makes the date memorable for her, not the stuff you bought. Here are 6 ideas for a fun but inexpensive first date.
#1 Experience the great outdoors
If you’re both sporty, active types and the weather is suitable, perhaps you’d love an opportunity to be at one with nature. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a hike in the forest or a stroll on the beach, it can be relaxing to get away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. The outdoors also give you enough privacy to share your first date kiss, if it ever gets to that.
A walk through nature gives you the chance to get to know each other properly without the distraction of being surrounded by other people. If that intimidates you, don’t worry. Being on the move helps to take the pressure off always having something to say. A silence where you’re admiring your surroundings is rarely an awkward silence. The great thing about this suggestion is that it can be combined with a number of the other date ideas in this article.
#2 Feed some animals
If there’s one thing that all women would appear to love, it’s cute animals.
If you have an adorable puppy, it’s almost guaranteed that taking him for a walk would be an enjoyable date. But if you don’t have a dog of your own, perhaps you have a friend who wouldn’t mind you pet-sitting for the afternoon. Failing that, maybe you will even sign up to a dog-walking website.
Bring a camera if you do. Research suggests that including a pet in your online dating profile makes it more attractive. Regardless of whether you have a furry companion, you can feed the ducks at your local park. Or maybe you can take your date to the local petting zoo.
#3 Window shopping
Sorry to be stereotypical, but if there’s another thing that all women would appear to love, it’s shopping. Women don’t even need to buy anything to have a good time pursuing the shops and neither do you. Here are some fun games you can play at your local mall.
- Pick out some clothes for each other to try on. Take photos of each other and have your friends vote for the best outfit on social media. This game is way more fun if you choose a horrible outfit or at least something that is completely different from each other’s usual style.
- Buy each other a super-cheap present. Set a budget of $5 for you each to buy a gift for one another. Compete for who can buy the best gift. Perhaps have your friends vote for the winner on social media again. Tell her you’ll keep your gift as a memento to remember them forever. She’ll think it’s super-romantic if you actually do.
- Play games. If the mall has an arcade or a toy shop, definitely pay a visit. Any activity that helps bring the nostalgia of being a child is a surefire winner.
#4 Set up a picnic
Surprise her with a blanket, a bottle of wine, glasses and some snacks. For whatever reason, this comes across as a thoughtful and romantic date idea, rather than cheap. And since you're enjoying each other's company and there aren't a ton of distractions around, you can really have a great conversation on your first date.
Find some picturesque surroundings and remember this will only be fun if she’ll be warm enough to sit down outside.
#5 Board games: one of the best nostalgic date ideas
As previously mentioned, anything that brings on the nostalgia of being a child is a great date activity.
Men and women both love to be brought back to the innocence of childhood, where they had no responsibilities or real problems. It helps take their mind off the stresses of everyday life. Board games were a staple of most millennials’ childhood (although this is sadly fading away for younger generations).
Still, there are plenty of cafes or pubs that stack board games for customers to play for free. Keep it basic though. The likes of Operation, Buckaroo, Jenga or Dirty Scrabble are better than hardcore quiz games like Trivial Pursuit.
The simple addition of a board game adds a bit of originality to an otherwise bland coffee or pub date where first date conversation topics are limited. What’s more, the distraction of having a small activity to focus on helps take the pressure off the conversation. Shy girls will be particularly grateful for that.
#6 Dates at your house
Some women might not feel comfortable coming straight to your house on a first date, but these ideas might help to convince her it’s a good idea.
- Baking. Cookies. Muffins. Cakes. You can work together as a team to create a delicious treat. Make sure you’ve got whipped cream 😉
- Video games. Bonus points for simple old-school games on classic consoles like the PS1 or Nintendo 64.
- Disney+ and Chill. Because Netflix and Chill is so 2015.
- Pillow fights. Because why the hell not?
These might all sound like half-baked excuses to set you up for quick easy sex. That’s because they are! However, if she’s not quite ready for that, you can still have a great time actually doing these activities.
When she arrives at your house, do all you can to make her feel comfortable. Set up the activity. Have a great time. There’s no need to whisk her into the bedroom straight away. Ironically enough, treating her like this will do a lot to make her feel more comfortable sleeping with you. And let’s be honest - she’ll remember incredible sex more fondly than any other fancy first date activity.