Lunch Dates are for Losers

Let’s get this party started!

I haven’t answered a question from you guys in a while. So selfish. Here’s one I get fairly often, from Richie in Boston, MA.

A girl took the initiative ask me out on Eharmony, which I thought was pretty radical. But she wants to meet for lunch instead of a drink. Lunch seems more like the friend zone. Should I push for a beer instead? Should I take that as a bad sign?

Is it a bad sign? Well I don’t know Richie, did you use the word “radical” with her too? If yes, then I’d say yeah, it’s a pretty bad sign. Kidding! Kind of!

Seriously though, when readers ask me about the feasibility of a lunch date, I always say the same thing: “What’s the most fun you’ve ever had at lunch?” Zero, right? Zero fun. Lunch is just not that exciting a format. That limits how good a lunch date possibly go, right? Honestly, when’s the last time you had a friggin’ amazing lunch? You started ordering margaritas, and all of a sudden the conversation totally took off. You and your mate hit on everything – sex, relationships, politics, having a sexual relationship with politics. The two of you laughed so hard, stuff started to come out of your nose. Then a few friends who weren’t even invited showed up, and things got even crazier! Someone suggested shots, then someone else suggested dancing while you did the shots, and that’s when the lunch got away from you. The next 45 minutes were a blur, but all you know is that when you came to, your friends were gone and you were sitting at a table with Samuel L. Jackson and the chick from the Progressive Insurance commercials. And Sam said he was picking up the tab. When’s the last time you had a lunch like THAT?!

“I’ll go on a date with you for any meal! Or a snack, even!”

OK, perhaps I went a little bit overboard there, but dates are supposed to be fun. I don’t think the issue is that lunch automatically makes you “just friends,” I mean people who have sex with each other have been known to share mid-day deals, it’s that lunch doesn’t give the encounter a high chance of success. First of all, it’s the middle of the day. Not sexy. Chances are you’re both coming from – and going back to – work, which doesn’t put you in the most joyful mindset. And it also means you can’t drink. Or drink with any dedication to the craft. And that adds up to a pretty mellow afternoon. Pretttty pretttty mellow. Is it possible to have fun without drinking? Of course it is. Is it possible to have flirty, romantic fun with someone you’ve never met without drinking, and be swept away by the tiniest glimmer in their eyes? Ehhhh not so much. You’re sober, your phone is vibrating from the constant flow of work emails coming your way, and you have a very sensible caesar salad – no croutons – sitting in front of you. If you can feel romantic under those circumstances you should check your water glass, because I think you just got roofied.

Often times there’s an instinct to glide your way through Internet dates. I’m probably more guilty of it than any of you, mostly because I’ve been so damn many of them. But it’s easy to say “Oh, it’s just an Internet date. Let’s maybe grab a quick coffee.” Or “I’ve gotta eat lunch anyway, why don’t we do it together?” Don’t do that. And Richie, if your date is suggesting you do that, avoid it all costs. It’s a totally understandable desire, to say “I don’t know this person at all, so I’m not gonna put a ton of effort into this,” but that desire is gonna kill any chance you have at establishing a really great connection. If you do something lame and hasty on your date, it’s pretty likely your date is gonna end feeling lame and hasty. Again, is it possible that two people can totally hit it off under rather staid circumstances? Of course it is. But it’s not as likely as it would be if you meet at 8, have a cocktail, and see where the night takes you.

So, to sum it up, Richie: avoid lunch dates and never say the word “radical” again. Got it? Good. Best of luck!

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5 Responses to Lunch Dates are for Losers

  1. D. says:

    Agreed. Certainly as first dates, lunch dates are an instant death sentence on any budding relationship. Maybe after you’ve been out a few times, ok, if it’s gonna be a busy week and this is the only time you two can see each other. By that point? Alright, fine. Not ideal, but fine.

    And that’s just it. A lunch date is “fine.” In the sense of “Oh, I’m fine, thanks. How are you?” Even if it’s a lovely picnic in the park or something…yeah, you’ve only got at most 50 min, probably closer to 45, and then back to the office with you.

    You know what else? It’s not so much that lunch dates are “in the friends zone,” but rather that lunch dates scream “lack of interest.” As mentioned, you can go on lunch dates with someone you’re actively dating and it doesn’t mean the end draws nigh. But for a first or second date? Forget it. To me, that says “I only have about 45 min in my day for you, so..take it or leave it.” Thanks, I’ll leave it. If you’re gonna date, you should be making the time to let things develop with the other person. That means having an open enough schedule that you can actually, you know, go on dates. Not lunch dates. Dates.

    Minor caveat:

    A lunch date is entirely acceptable if it’s used as a code phrase for “noontime quickie.”

  2. Avril says:

    Been reading these posts recently, just came across this one which made me cringe a little, as a single parent I get no time for evening dates since dating with a hyperactive toddler in tow is a bad idea and leaving them to fend for themselves kinda illegal, so I only have the day time.
    I agree though, it’s totally mood killing since everyone is hoping you’ll get that unexpected-expected kiss at some point during a date (well in between filtering out the nut jobs).
    But, thinking about it, the only way for some people (like myself or someone more morality bound) to filter out those keepers from the one night stands is to friend zone everyone.

    Don’t write off the lunch dates!

    • Allie says:

      Yes Avril. Thank you. Especially when meeting people from the internet for a date also. I am not dating so I can see how many drunken one night stands I can have. I think there is more true potential if a connection can be made with out alcohol involved, at least for the first meeting. I also can’t lie that I feel less threatened by meeting during the day for lunch or even breakfast. What if I actually do get roofied on an evening date after a couple drinks once I’ve loosened up and not quite as vigilant at paying attention to detail. I don’t really know this man and it is a dangerous world. I don’t want to allow fear of the possibility that something could happen stop me from dating but I do want to take it to a getting to know you time for a first date experience, not getting to know if we could end up in bed together.

  3. John Carpenter says:

    Absolute nonsense which is embamatic of the major flaw of PUA strategy in two ways: it postulates one absolute and one fiction. The absolute is “Never make a first date a lunch date.”
    Now, if you want to make the case it isn’t the optimum option, fine, but it may be the most advantageous option at the time.

    Furthermore, where is it written, that first dates are supposed to be fun as opposed to enjoyable?
    My guess is women like Allie or Avril that a lunch in the midle of the day at a place like the Boathouse in Central Park on a beautiful autumn day or at a table outside at a sidewalk cafe is much preferable to being in the middle of a crush of people at a club where the decibel level is equivalent to being at the sea dome.

    More importantly, is the utter fiction about the inevitability of being trapped in the purgatory of the friend zone. I’ve lost count of friends and acquaintances who eventually married each other after beginning their relationships as friends.

    The PUA movement, however, finds the word “friend” almost an obscenity. The confident man laughs at that realizing with patience friendship can be the key to open any door.

  4. Wanda Wilson says:

    I’d agree lunch is usually not good for a first date, but it depends on what you call a first date. In the internet dating world, I need to actually meet you before I could agree to a date. I always insisted on lunch for first meetings. Safe, mid-day, with a clear beginning and end for both parties. Seemed the wise thing to do for me when meeting a total stranger for the first time.

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