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?!
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!