Chapter 12

Great Dates

You know what I love about dating shows?

The producers, in an effort to make good TV, rack their brains to come up with really fun and interesting ways for a couple to interact.

Forget just meeting for coffee or a meal. They have them learn how to polka. Go to a ceramics class and make personalized mugs. Dog walking for charity. All terrific Great Date Dos. Sure, all their good intentions get shot to hell later on with the prerequisite drunken-hot-tub thing, but I think those first fifteen minutes are pure inspiration!

If you want your own Great Date Production, it's going to be up to you to do a little behind-the-scenes producing and planning to make the magic happen. (Minus the martinis and bikinis, of course, unless that's your idea of a worthy dating experience . . . if so, get thee back to chapter 1!)

Oh sure, in a perfect world, the big dating scene will go like this: Guy calls, has two exciting plans for you to choose from, and executes the details perfectly. The female lead's only responsibility is to look cute, provide fabulous conversation, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

Cut! Not as in "cut and print." As in cut that out!

Haven't you learned by now that anything Dateworthy -- including the actual date itself -- is all about what you put into it? You may not get perfect, but if you want a production that's at the least fun, memorable, and has the possibility of a sequel, then it's up to you to help direct this date.

So, with Oscar in mind (the award, silly, not some guy!), here are some ideas to get you pumped about your Great Date Production.

Where to Go

Oh, sure, everyone knows the rule: Whoever does the asking out should have an idea of what to do. (They are also "expected" to pay, but very often, men will insist on footing the bill or at least allow you to just leave the tip. Either way, you should be prepared with extra dough on top of your emergency twenties if you do the asking.)

Do you have a clue what you'll say when you make the call?

Wait . . . did you just say you never do the asking?

Oh, no you didn't. Because you know being Dateworthy means taking the fullest advantage of fate date moments when you may have to get the ball rolling!

So I ask again: What will you say when you make the call? And, on the what-I'm-sure-would-be-preferable flip side, what if he calls you and asks, "What would you like to do?"

Personally, I think the ideal comeback in that instance would be: "I'll tell you what: Why don't you tell me what you were thinking, and I'll tell you what I was thinking, and we'll see which one is the favorite?" That way, you'll see whether he really wants to hear what you think . . . or he's just a man who didn't care enough about the date to make a plan. If he says, "I don't know. . ." you should say, "Know what? I really want you to have an idea of what you want to do to, so . . . think about it and call me back!" Click. Talk about a challenge. You didn't just throw down the gauntlet -- you smacked him upside the head with it.

If it's the former -- that he did have a plan, but wanted to hear your ideas -- then you should be prepared to respond with an activity that includes at least some of the following:

It promotes conversation. That means, no movies or loud concerts or anything that keeps you both from talking to each other.

It's wallet-favorable. The last thing anyone needs is to blow the bank on a first date. It's unfair to whoever is paying, and, from what I've read in reader letters, it's a huge source of discomfort to women who often feel "obligated" to "pay" for their meals with sex.

It's male friendly. Unless he brings up dancing or a flower show, save that for a later date suggestion. Think in terms of activities that have to do with eating and nothing to do with him tripping or looking stupid or in any way being detrimental to the all-important male ego.

It helps you K.I.S.S. That is, helps you Keep It Short and Simple. If you have a preset time limit ("I'll meet you at four, but I really have to leave at about six"), you can exit a not-so-great date gracefully . . . and leave a great date with anticipation about the next one.

You might also want to consider:
Amusement parks. Ride the rides, go to the funhouse, share nutrient-questionable food. It's actually a great place to get him talking about his family and childhood.

Cooking classes. No fooling . . . or drooling! Guys love to cook. And eat. And actually have a picture in their heads of what you look like in the kitchen. (He doesn't have to know it's the last time he'll see you in the kitchen . . . just kidding.)

"It's not just paintings" museums. Whether it's sports or music or a chocolate exhibit, find something that you both don't have to be incredibly art-knowledgeable to enjoy. Walking around also encourages hand-holding, a bonus for him (remember, he's a two-headed being who's happy to get skin contact).

"Old man" sports. Bowling. Playing pool. Golf. Traditionally for old dudes -- now trendy. They're games that are slow-paced with good talking downtime in between, but they're enjoyable to do and encourage fun competition.

Brunch. Affordable in even five-star budget-busting restaurants, and it's early enough to . . . have another date later but not too early that you can't still get good sleep after your Saturday night date.

RelationTip: Don't suggest -- or accept a suggestion -- unless it's something you really, truly are interested in doing.

Just remember: included in your "where to go" should also be "where to meet" plans. Bottom line? If he's a fate date or someone you've been corresponding with online, tell him you'll meet him at the venue. If he's a relative or friend fix-up, a former coworker, someone from your church -- anyone where there's already a built-in knowledge of each other and of each other's friends -- it's okay to have him pick you up at your place, but I suggest being ready to go when he gets there so that you can get back into the public space.

And finally, make sure that you both know exactly where and when you're supposed to meet, and that you both know how to get there. If neither of you have an exact address, offer to call the restaurant for the specific information, and then offer to leave it on his machine. The last thing you want is to end up at Famous Johns on Sixth Avenue while he's waiting for you at John's Famous on Sixth Street.

Reprinted from: Dateworthy: Get the Relationship You Want by Dennie Hughes © 2004 by Dennie Hughes. (November 2004; $14.95US/$21.95CAN; 1-59486-075-0) Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735 or visit their website at

Author's Bio: 

Dennie Hughes USA Weekend magazine's contributing editor and RelationTips writer is an award-winning columnist who has built a career dispensing personal advice with professional expertise. She also hosts a weekly relationship chat on and provides dating expertise for the popular online dating site

Dennie, an ovarian cancer survivor, lives in New York City with her very tall husband and very small dog.

For more information, please visit Dennie Hughes' Web site, or