First dates can be absolutely terrifying, point, blank, period. No matter how prepared you are with the perfect outfit you spent hours deciding on, the list of conversation starters you’ve memorized in case the talk fizzles out—it is still nerve-wracking to meet up with a potential love interest for the initial date!
You already have the jitters going into it. Will they like you? Will you like them? Maybe you click the moment you meet up IRL, but the date they picked was not ideal. In fact, it was awful.
5 Hilariously Bad First Dates
We have been there, done that, and are going to share some of our hilariously bad first dates with you. Some were funny stories we told our friends, while a few left us traumatized. And one of them led to marriage and was brought up by the bridesmaid during the wedding toast.
Take a trip down the awful date memory lane with us and stick around for some much better first date ideas when we finish reliving the comically bad ones!
The Haunted Hayride Debacle
One of our dating app matches decided it would be a really fun first idea to go to a haunted hayride—granted, it was around Halloween, so it made sense in their head.
What they didn’t know was that I am the most nervous, skittish person within a 10-mile radius at all times, and the very idea of being towed through a cornfield in the dark by a tractor on a wagon, was terrifying enough, let alone actually doing it. But I did do it because my pride got the better of my fear. And my date was hot.
Within two minutes of entering the cornfield, a scarecrow jumped out at our group, and I screamed bloody murder, but so did a few others! Ok, maybe I could gut this out. A scarecrow I could deal with, and the next couple of jump-scares were not great, but I (mostly) held it together.
And then, for the finale, a man in a Michael Myers mask bolted out of the rows and ran full speed to the back of the wagon, where we sat. Did I scream? Nope. Did I act on instinct and kick the Michael Myers impersonator in the face? Yes, I did.
Not only did I not get asked out on a second date, but I am now persona non grata from the haunted hayride at Shady Brook Farm—I’m actually lucky that man didn’t press assault charges. Not that I’d ever planned on going back, but don’t take a first date to anything haunted.
The Experimental Restaurant Fiasco
Going to the newest hot spot for the latest trendy cuisine sounds good in theory, and sometimes it’s a great first date!
But for one of us, the quirky eats were not exactly made for our delicate palate. We are talking about a fusion restaurant, and the fused fares were Indian and Thai—two of the spiciest eats known to man.
Even though they went with what they thought was the blandest, least-spicy “safe” choice, it turns out there was no such thing at this pop-up eatery. After two bites, there were tears, a full-on nose running, and red splotches all over their face. Water didn’t help. Neither did the naan, which was ALSO spicy.
Have you ever seen those videos from military boot camp where they lock the soldiers in a room and let off some kind of chemical gas? When they emerge, it looks like every one of their mucus membranes has exploded. It was like that but on a first date.
Stay away from any kind of experimental restaurant on a first date unless you ask your match if they’ve ever eaten that kind of cuisine or if they even want to try it!
The Surprise Physical Activity Debacle
Don’t do this. Please, just don’t. Unless you are going on a first date with an Olympian or pro athlete, don’t take them on an “adventure.”
While adventures can be fun, the physical ones aren’t for everyone! Or for most of us! First, who wants to get sweaty and gross on a first date where you’re trying to make a good impression? Not us!
Second, what if you are an uncoordinated mess when it comes to anything athletic? Don’t make a date work out on your initial meetup; it’s just plain rude. One of our awful dates was a hiking outing, and by the halfway point, they were wheezing (they don’t have asthma), drenched (it wasn’t raining), and all they wanted to do was lie down or maybe call 911 to get a helicopter to come to pick them up. Needless to say, the date was a disaster.
The Surprise Meet-the-Parents Nightmare
True story: One of my matches took me to a family party on our first date. I have never been so embarrassed by another person’s lack of self-awareness, and I still cringe every time the intrusive memory enters my brain.
You may be thinking it sounds sweet, but your thinking is wrong. No one is trying to meet the parents on a first date—not only is it inappropriate, but it’s a ridiculous amount of pressure to put on someone if they really like you! His parents were very nice and enthusiastic, as were his entire extended family and friends—it was a big gathering.
After an hour, I excused myself, went to the lady’s room, ordered an Uber, and hid there until it arrived. I slipped out the door the minute I got that “your Uber driver has arrived and is in a white Toyota Camry” and never looked back. Could he have been my soulmate? Maybe, but the first date was too egregious to overcome.
The Petting Zoo Pandemonium
A petting zoo is a cute, fun excursion but an absolute no-no on a first date. Turns out that some people just assume that everyone is thrilled about the possibility of being spit on by a llama, is not allergic to certain animals, and has to find out the hard way.
A well-meaning match, though, figured the petting zoo was the perfect place for her first date, and her date seemed into it! He didn’t know that he is allergic to some of our furry animal friends, but he found out pretty quickly after holding several baby goats. The hives came on fast and furious, but luckily, no anaphylactic shock or Epi-pen was needed. To add insult to injury, while they were on their way out of the petting zoo to get the poor dude some Benadryl, a llama hocked a loogie on him. While it sounds funny, you wouldn’t laugh if a small camel spit on you as your eyes swelled shut! No petting zoos on the first date, readers!
Great First Date Ideas
While these horrendous first dates are no doubt hilarious in hindsight, it’s really important to think about the person who will be joining you on the outing and not just what you think will be fun! Think about what they will be comfortable doing, and hmmm, this might be wild, but you could ask what they want to do. It’s a joint effort, so treat it that way.
Are you still laughing? Get it all out while we lick our bad first-date wounds. Now that we’ve gone over some of the worst first-date ideas ever, let’s talk about some of the best (in our opinion) first-date ideas that are both fun and unique!
Embark on a geocaching adventure—it’s like a modern-day scavenger hunt! You and your date can use GPS coordinates to search for hidden containers filled with surprises and trinkets.
Some places plan this out for groups and couples, so just do a quick Google search and see if there is one in your area. This enjoyable and interactive activity will take you on an adventure, but not a big one that will leave you gasping for breath.
You and your date can get to know more about each other while exploring hidden corners of your city or nature trails while working together to solve the clues and find hidden caches.
Who doesn’t love playing putt-putt? We don’t know anyone who will say “no” to a round of mini-golf, so challenge your date to a friendly round of mini-golf. Or a competitive one–fingers crossed you, and your date are both good sports.
You can gently swing your way through colorful obstacles, laugh at each other’s attempts (and occasional misses), roast each other, and enjoy the playful competition. Mini golf is the perfect way to show a date you like to have a good time, and you have a sense of humor and can laugh at yourself.
Escape Room Challenge
Test your problem-solving skills and teamwork by tackling an escape room challenge together–just make sure your date doesn’t suffer from anxiety or claustrophobia before you take them there!
Locked in a themed room, you have to solve puzzles, find hidden clues, and work against the clock to escape. This super immersive and slightly nerve-wracking experience will draw out your collaborative side and provide lots of excitement and laughter as you work to unravel the mysteries and escape–together.
DIY Craft Date
Get crafty and unleash your creativity with a DIY craft date. Choose a project that interests both of you, such as painting pottery, making personalized candles, or creating jewelry. Spend the date laughing, designing, and helping each other bring artistic visions to life. Not only will you have unique mementos from the experience, but you’ll also discover new talents and bond over your shared craftsmanship.
Retro Game Night
Listen, I do this all the time, and there are no dates involved–I just love a good board game and will bust out my old Nintendo and play Tetris and Mario Kart until the sun comes up. If you are like me and love all things retro gaming, this is such a cool first-date idea!
You can go back in time for a retro game night chock full of nostalgia and some heated competition. If you don’t have a console at your place, you can head to an old-school arcade–they have every video game ever made and some bonus ones–air hockey and skee ball if you’re lucky! And if you are in the mood for a stay-at-home first date, reallocate some vintage board games out of your parent’s basement or pick one up at a hobby store or online. Then you can play Monopoly, Battleship, or a battle of the wits with Scrabble.
Although the first date can hold great significance in shaping the future of a potential relationship, it could also be a calamity that will send the person you are interested in running for the nearest EXIT sign, so it’s wise to steer clear of the really bad first dates we mentioned above.
Instead, pick one of the best date ideas we listed (or brainstorm an original one with your date) that will be fun and meaningful and allows you two lovebirds to get to know one another. Just don’t do it at a party at your parent’s house.