First Date: Sit down meal vs. physical challenge


I was a late bloomer, by all accounts (especially my sisters’). I didn’t attend anything resembling a date until I was 15, my first kiss wasn’t until 16, and according to a personal survey of female peers (ongoing throughout my travels) I was quite late in far more intimate courting rituals.

Perhaps this is why I continue to feel incredibly awkward dating… Especially when sitting at a table with a stranger making small talk about our lives, which, neither of us know anything about. Don’t get me wrong, on a scale of one to ten, dinner isn’t the worst thing that has ever happened to me. However, when alternative offers include a bike ride, caving, maybe even a walk, count me in for the physical challenge.

The question I have been contemplating, and trying to explain to other female co-horts (who prefer a meal as a first date), is Why the physical challenge is a better first date than the sit down meal?

Maybe its as simple as being in the present. It is possible that sitting at a table sharing a meal is a chance to discuss what you can and have done, where in contrast, having a physically challenge like shredding pow or climbing is a chance to show your potential suitor what you can do. Show vs. tell. Self assessment: I tend to think of myself as pretty low-key when it comes to dinner conversation but find myself quite impressive during an adventure. Not just for strength in endurance, but company, hilarity, problem solving skills, and generally positive attitude in knarly circumstances (ask my most recent California road trip partner, Allison).

Often, during an adventure, there is a kind of connection that can be built through shared experience which can be difficult to find over a meal. This seems like the foundation of getting to know someone and getting excited to know someone.

It doesn’t always have to be an adventure either, it could be a project. Any activity that gives two people a chance to work together on a secondary task. Something that averts attention from presenting your best self (which is only a partial truth and totally in vain) and puts the emphasis on accomplishing something in unity. It builds a bond for future conversions and gives a snap shot of what a person is capable of.

Dinner seems so outdated when held against the back drop of knowledge gained about a person during an adventure. Think about what you might learn about a persons capabilities during dinner… in terms of action you might be able to answer the following questions post: Do they have good manners (important but secondary), and do they pay for your dinner (the importance of this is an entirely different post and a can of worms I won’t release yet). These questions seem unimportant when compared to; What kind of attitude do they take on challenges with? Are they resourceful and imaginative? Do they make light of details going a rye? etc. This information seems significantly more useful.

For now I am not sold on the sit down. I will continue to participate only because I want to be open minded, but the physical challenge wins every time. I’d love to hear what others think… Comments? Thoughts? Feelings? Concerns?

3 thoughts on “First Date: Sit down meal vs. physical challenge

  1. I really dig this post. You bring to attention a number of thoughts that I too ponder. As much as I love dinner conversation—that is of course accompanied by a bottle of wine—I find myself spilling way too much information about myself because I feel like I’m in the spotlight and need to give more than I need to. I agree that the physical date, preferably outdoors, is a much more revealing, truthful and intimate date. It all makes sense and as you personally know, I will find my mate on a trail adrift on some far away trail. It’s only right.


    1. The term “date” and the carbon copy method of a sit down dinner / drink often creates unnecessary tension that can likely get in the way of the purpose: to quickly sort through what are eliminating or attractive points of one’s character that results in the true potential of something more than friendship. When observing people on a date, I can’t help but notice that their physical manners are uncomfortable and robotic. The worst is the dinner date: there are too many distractions and things to fiddle around with, such as the position of the fork next to the plate, making paper shapes out of the napkin, etc. and the conversation often lacks authenticity. In the realm of courtship, maybe it’s best to avoid “the date”, where it sometimes feels like we are on a stage, (like acting in the school play when we put every ounce of energy into not screwing up.) In my opinion, the outdoors or sharing an activity (not Wesson oil Twister) is far more of an authentic way to be yourself in the company of a potential mate. Then again, every once in awhile a dinner date can be “perfect” and years later….”You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife. You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?


  2. I completely agree. It’s a matter of finding someone who shares similar interests and values. One method of finding such a person is to meet someone while participating in activity (the physical challenge) you enjoy and then suggesting joint participation in another similar activity. Or if you don’t meet someone while participating in the activity, the offered first date should be a favorite activity (physical challenge). The intended person balks at the idea then you both don’t share the similar values and intersts, and thus probably are a good match. (That’s not an insult directed at the other person…just a simple fact and you both can part ways knowing it was for the best.)


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