Coffee, drinks, and dinner are three popular first date activities.
Let’s see which one would be the best first date for you.
When it comes to having a good first date, what you do on the date matters a lot.
And there are a lot of options at your fingertips.
Three popular first date ideas are coffee, drinks, and dinner. There’s the cozy coffee date, the dimly lit bar for drinks, and the romantic dinner date.
Each of these first date activities can set the tone for the second date and influence how the relationship progresses.
Each option has its own unique pros and cons, so which one is the best? And which first date idea is ideal for you?
Let's delve into the ultimate first date debate of coffee vs drinks vs dinner.
The Coffee Date
Meeting for coffee offers a low-key and casual first date activity. Coffee dates have become increasingly popular for first dates because they make for a relaxed and informal setting.
Here’s what you should know about the pros and cons of going for coffee a first date.
The Pros: Why Getting Coffee Makes for a Good First Date
There’s a good reason why coffee dates so popular for first dates.
Coffee dates offer a low-pressure and laid-back atmosphere, which can help ease the anxiety many people feel on first dates. If dinner feels too formal or a bar feels too loud, getting coffee at a café can provide a more comfortable and relaxed environment where you and your date can feel at ease and focus on getting to know each other.
Another reason why getting coffee date is a good first date idea is that it is relatively short and affordable. Coffee dates tend to last only around an hour, and they’re almost always a cheap and budget-friendly date option.
Coffee dates also allow for easy conversation. Sitting across from each other over a warm cup of coffee provides a natural opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation, while having a lively ambiance around you. Cafés are usually on the quieter side, so it’s easy to hear each other. Coffee dates tend to be less distracting compared to other date activities, allowing you and your date to focus on each other and develop a genuine connection.
A perk of getting coffee for a first date is that it makes for easy planning and versatile options for extending the date. Coffee shops are usually easy to find and readily available in most areas, making them a convenient option for a first date. Many cafés are open during the day and evening, providing flexibility in terms of scheduling. If the date is going well, you can easily extend a coffee date by suggesting going for a walk or other activity nearby.
The Cons: Why Getting Coffee Can Make for a Bad First Date
Coffee dates offer a fairly limited date experience. While coffee dates provide a great opportunity for conversation, they may lack the variety of activities and shared experiences that other types of dates offer. They’re static and seated and lack any physical movement or activity. Coffee shops may limit the chance to create shared experiences or shared memories together, which are important steps in building a connection with someone.
Because coffee dates are inherently casual, they tend to lack the romantic ambiance that some people may desire on a first date. The environment of a café is not as intimate or romantic atmosphere as a candlelit dinner or a scenic outdoor location and can feel rather stale.
For people who like longer first dates, coffee dates may feel too short to allow for a meaningful connection to develop. If you’re hoping to truly get to know someone on the first date, then a coffee date may feel rushed and limited in terms of time.
Coffee shops can be crowded, so finding a comfortable and private place to sit can be challenging. Sitting on uncomfortable chairs or being surrounded by other people can make the date feel less intimate or romantic. It may also be difficult to have private, vulnerable conversations or feel truly connected when you’re sitting in a busy café just a foot away from the couple at the table next to you.
What a coffee date means
The main purpose of a coffee date is to have a low-pressure, low-commitment meeting that allows each person to gauge their compatibility and get to know one another in a casual environment. The meaning of a coffee dates is one of simplicity and affordability. Grabbing coffee is one of the best things to do on a first date if you prefer a less formal approach to dating or may not have a lot of time for a longer date.
What to wear on a coffee date
While coffee dates are generally casual, it's still important to dress appropriately and make a good first impression. Dress comfortably but stylishly and confidently. Casual chic is a good idea. If you want to dress up a bit more without going too formal, a smart casual outfit can be a great option. Consider the location, time of day, and weather when choosing your coffee date outfit, as there’s a chance you may be seated outside.
What time to meet for a coffee date
Coffee dates can happen at any time of day, whether morning, afternoon, or evening. During the afternoon, many coffee shops are not too busy, which means you'll likely have a quieter environment to chat and get to know each other. Evening coffee dates, meanwhile, can provide a more intimate atmosphere.
The Drinks Date
Going out for drinks is another low-key and casual first date activity that can be step up from coffee. Drinks dates are timelessly popular first dates, and they have a different meaning than coffee dates.
Here’s what you should know about the pros and cons of grabbing drinks for a first date.
The Pros: Why Grabbing Drinks Makes for a Good First Date
One of the biggest advantages of grabbing drinks for a first date is the relaxed, casual, and romantic atmosphere it can create. When you choose the right bar, you can create a first date vibe that’s casual yet flirty.
Drinks dates offer a decent range of options in terms of location and time, though they usually occur later in the day during the evening. Drinks dates can be scheduled for a quick after-work happy hour cheers or at a more intimate evening time. You can choose a trendy cocktail bar, a cozy pub, or a classy wine bar. This versatility allows for you to plan the perfect first date based on your personal preferences and schedule, as well as your date’s preferences and schedule.
By loosening people up, drinks can help to ease conversation flow on a first date. Sharing drinks can help people open up, get to know each other, ask questions, share stories, and laugh.
Another reason why grabbing drinks is a great first date idea is that it’s versatile in how long the date could last. If you're unsure about how well the date will go or if you have a busy schedule, grabbing drinks can be a way to keep the first date under an hour. A drink date can be short and sweet. And if the date is going well, you can extend it by ordering more drinks or suggesting another activity to do after the bar.
The Cons: Why Grabbing Drinks Can Make for a Bad First Date
The biggest risk of grabbing drinks for a first date is that you’ll be drinking alcohol, which inherently comes with potential risk. Alcohol impairs judgment and can make you less attuned to how you’re feeling and what your date is like. Relatedly, if you or your date becomes drunk, then you can’t get or give consent.
Suggesting drinks for a first date can put pressure on the other person to drink alcohol, even if they are not comfortable doing so. This can create an awkward experience, which can take the person out of their zone and make the date go poorly. Not everyone drinks alcohol. It's important to be mindful of your date’s comfort level and boundaries, and to respect any concerns or preferences they have related to alcohol.
A big downside of drinks dates is that bars can be noisy and crowded. Bars and pubs can be loud and packed places, which can make it difficult to have a good conversation and build a connection on a first date. If it’s challenging to hear what your date is saying, then good luck getting to know them.
While having a drink or two can be a great way to relax and enjoy the date, there is always the potential for drinking too much on the date. Drinking too much can lead to sloppy behavior, impaired judgment, and an overall unpleasant experience for both you and your date.
What to wear on a first date for drinks
Opt for a smart-casual outfit that strikes a balance between dressy and casual. For men, a collared shirt paired with dark jeans or chinos and dress shoes can be a great choice for a drinks date outfit. For women, a blouse or a nice top with jeans, a skirt, or a dress could work well.
When thinking of what to wear for drinks, consider the venue. If you're going to a trendy cocktail bar, you’ll want to dress up a bit more. If it's a casual pub, you can go for a more relaxed look.
Opt for colors that suit your skin tone and make you feel confident. Darker colors like navy, black, or burgundy can add a touch of sophistication, while lighter colors like white, beige, or pastels can create a fresh and casual look.
What time to meet for a drinks date
There are many possible times a drinks date can happen.
A popular time to grab drinks for a first date is the evening, between 7-10pm. This can create a more romantic and intimate setting. However, late evening drinks dates may not be ideal for people who are natural early birds or who have to wake up early the next day for work.
Meeting in the early evening, between 5-7pm, can be a good time for a drinks date after work, without staying out too late. Meeting for drinks during this time, before dinner, can also give you the chance to transition from a casual drinks date to a more formal dinner date if you’d like. Once you get to know each other over drinks, you can suggest going out to restaurant for dinner.
Happy hour, usually taking place in the late afternoon or early evening, is another common time for drinks dates.
The Dinner Date
Going out to dinner is a classic first date activity that’s perfect if you’re looking for a more serious and involved date. By sharing a meal together, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to observe how the other person carries themselves, interacts with their space, and practices mannerisms.
If you're planning to go out to dinner for a first date, here are some key things to know.
The Pros: Why Going Out to Dinner Makes for a Good First Date
Food and meals make for a core part of dating, and going out to dinner on a first date gives you a chance to explore your date’s food preferences. Food can be a common ground that brings people together and provides a shared experience. Sharing a meal together can reveal a lot about a person's preferences and habits. Discussing food preferences, allergies, or dietary restrictions can lead to interesting conversations and help you understand each other's lifestyle choices.
Going out to dinner can provide an opportunity for chivalry and traditional dating etiquette that many people desire. On heterosexual dates, men can take the initiative to pay for the meal and show their provider side. While modern dating and gender roles have evolved, many people still appreciate traditional acts of chivalry on a first date, and dinner can make that happen.
Dinner dates tend to last longer than drinks or coffee dates, and they offer some flexibility in how long the date lasts. You can linger over appetizers, enjoy a main course, and even indulge in dessert to extend the date if the conversation is flowing well. The flexibility in timing allows for a natural progression of the date and doesn't rush or limit the time spent together.
Dining out can also provide opportunities for shared experiences between you and your date, which can help build a connection. You can share dishes, eat from the same plates, or share a bottle of wine. Shared experiences, especially when eating together, can create positive memories and powerful bonding moments.
The Cons: Why Going Out to Dinner Can Make for a Bad First Date
Dinner dates are more work than more low-key types of first dates. When planning a dinner date, you’ll need to be mindful of your date’s food preferences, restrictions, and allergies. Before choosing a restaurant, you’ll need to ask your date if they have any food preferences, allergies, or dietary restrictions. It’s an extra step that you wouldn’t have to worry about on a drinks or coffee date. It's important to be accommodating and respectful of any preferences or needs your date may have and choose a restaurant that both of you can enjoy.
Going out to dinner can create a formal and high-pressure atmosphere for a first date, especially if you choose an upscale restaurant. The ambiance, the etiquette, and the expectations of dining out can create an air of formality that some people would rather avoid when first meeting someone. Dinner dates can feel like an interview or a performance, with the pressure to impress your date and meet social norms.
Perhaps the most obvious downside of going out to dinner on a first date is that it’s expensive. Going to a nice restaurant especially can be pricey, especially if you’re the one paying the bill.
On that note, the awkwardness around who will pay for the bill is another downside of dinner dates. The question of whether to pay the whole bill or split the bill can add another layer of stress to the date. Different people may have different expectations when it comes to paying for the meal, and it can be an awkward terrain to navigate on a first date.
Dinner can last a long time. Not only is a dinner date a bigger time commitment than other types of first dates but it’s also a bigger risk. If the date is not going well, it can feel like an eternity and be difficult to end early. Unlike other date options where you can be more flexible and spontaneous with time, such as going for a walk or grabbing coffee, dinner may require a more fixed and longer time commitment.
For most dinner dates, you’ll need to make a reservation, which requires an extra step of planning and thinking ahead. Going out to dinner on a date without a reservation is a terrible idea, as you run the risk of the restaurant being fully booked.
What to wear on a dinner date
Compared to a drinks date or coffee date, going out to dinner usually means a nicer dress code.
Consider the type of restaurant you'll be dining at and dress accordingly. Most of the time, it’s best to opt for a smart casual or business casual outfit. If it's a fancy and upscale restaurant, you’ll want to dress more formally in picking out your perfect dinner date outfit.
How to use dating apps to land more first dates
Hopefully these tips give some insights into what you should do for a first date. Getting coffee, drinks, or dinner each has its own set of pros and cons, and it’s best to think about which one fits your dating style and personality.
When planning a first date with someone you met on a dating app like Hinge, Tinder, or Bumble, it’s important to choose the right type of activity for you.
If you’re on dating apps and want to improve your dating profile so you land more first dates, we have you covered.
We at The Match Lab offer professional services to create dating profiles that attract high-quality matches.
If you’d like to find out which are your most attractive photos to use in your dating profile, give our dating photo analyzer a try. Just upload some photos of yourself, and our algorithm will reveal which photos you should be using in your profile and the ideal order they should go in.
If you’re looking for help with writing your dating profile, then check out our professional dating profile writing service.