Forget coffee shops and classy restaurants for first or second dates.
If you’re just getting to know someone, or about to meet someone for the first time, a pub is the ideal place for a date for quite a few reasons, and has been a go-to venue for me for a decade.
Meeting at a pub is like meeting on neutral ground, which is great when neither of you know each other very well. No one has to dress up too much, no one has to worry about ordering something fancy and paying for a stupidly high bill, and the casual atmosphere is great for taking the edge off.
Before we really analyze why a pub is a great meeting point in any early stage of dating, let’s rule out the other options as early-dating material.
1) The coffee shop.
While the coffee shop isn’t necessarily a terrible place to meet someone for a first or second date, the venue itself is limiting in terms of what you can do in case the date goes really well.
What if you end up talking for hours? Do you keep ordering coffee and get wired on caffeine, or sit there awkwardly with an empty cappuccino mug as baristas give you daggers? Do you eat four or five scones once you start to get hungry or sit there with your stomach growling after three hours of conversation? It’s just awkward.
It’s also not a very private place to talk. Often tables are crammed rather close together, and in such a quiet atmosphere, it’s really not difficult for others to listen in on your in-depth, getting-to-know-each-other conversations. If you’re aware of this, it might also cause you to perhaps not reveal as much as you would in another setting, which can affect first impressions.
There are, however, ways to get around this.
If you do happen to meet up at a coffee shop and the chemistry is great and the conversation is turning lengthy, suggest going for a walk around town or switching venues (like to a pub). That way you can keep the date going smoothly without being hindered by the limitations of a coffee shop.
2) A nice restaurant.
Ah, the classic date spot. Soft music, the light sound of tittering conversations of other couples around you, a bottle of wine and perhaps some candlelight. Sounds perfect, right?
Well, maybe once things get a little more serious between you and the potential love of your life, but if you try and introduce such a serious atmosphere too early on, it can do more damage than good.
First and second dates are nerve wracking enough. The last thing you want to feel is more pressure in that situation, which going to a nice restaurant can easily do for both parties.
Women tend to fret a lot about the little things; what to wear, what to order for food if you do dress nicely (or in white); how much wine you should have; whether or not to offer to split the bill, etc., and nothing like a classy joint will cause increased over-analysis and stress of these things on a woman’s part (what men think, I’m not sure exactly, but I’m sure clothes and paying the bill are up there).
Why even put yourself in that situation early on if you can help it? The more casual, the better.
Which brings me to why a pub is an ideal setting for an early date.
The light, casual atmosphere of a pub is disarming.
There’s music on above, hockey games on the TVs, people having social drinks all around you and good food to choose from without stressing out about the price. There’s also the fun option of sharing fries or appies, which isn’t always an option (or proper) in a classier setting. You also don’t have to worry about people listening in on your conversation because odds are they can’t really hear you anyway or are too absorbed in their own beer and wings to care.
Sports on the screens around you can also offer a conversation starter or even a break in case the date isn’t going so well. It’s something that can either spark up more questions or common interests, or offer an escape route out of an awkward or uncomfortable discussion.
You can also end the night whenever you want at a pub, whether it’s after an hour or five. You don’t have to worry about annoying a barista or other couples waiting their turn for a table, or even an escape route if you need one without waiting for your main course, the dessert and the bill.
Really, there’s nothing like talking over some beers in a pub, which is why you love to do it with your friends. Meeting someone at a pub for the first or second date should be no different. It should be casual, lighthearted and stress free, that way you’re likely to be more comfortable in your own skin, ask better questions and reveal more about yourself.
And if it doesn’t work out, then hey, no hard feelings. You just met at a pub over beers after all. Casual start, casual end, move on.
A pub is a place where you can be yourself, and that’s what foot you should start off with anyway.
Honestly, what could be a better way than laid-back beers, shareable food and good conversation to really get to know someone?