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Dating is hard. No one disputes that. Most people would rather stay in an unsatisfying relationship than venture out into the dating pool again, and picking the perfect first date is probably at the top of everyone’s list of impossible things to do. However, some first date ideas are so bad, you should avoid them at all costs. Anything, even bowling, is better than these ideas.

5 Staying In

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The whole idea behind a first date is to get to know each other, but in a safe, not weird manner. That means neutral territory. Renting movies or making dinner at home not only screams “unimaginative,” it also lets your date know where you live and a few details you might want to keep quiet until at least date four or five or when the criminal records check comes back. Pictures of relatives, your cats or those items hidden in your medicine cabinet are things you don’t need to show off when you’re trying to make a good impression. While dinner isn’t exactly a spectacular or creative first date idea, if it’s in a restaurant, it’s less likely to backfire than bringing your date to your home. It’s also less creepy.

4 Bar or Club

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Let’s go get to know each other in a loud, crowded, dimly lit venue where we have access to copious amounts of alcohol, said no one ever. While a bar or club may seem like an ideal spot for a first date because it is neutral territory full of witnesses, it’s really not a good idea. These places are too loud for proper conversation, and there’s also eye candy that might distract your date. Yes, you are hot in your own right, but don’t take the focus off yourself quite so completely.

3 Family Functions

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Your date needs to feel relaxed and not threatened in order to let his or her guard down long enough for you to get to know each other. You know your family. Do you think they’ll allow such a thing to happen? A family function, whether it’s a wedding, a reunion or a casual dinner, does not equal relaxation for a stranger. You’re taking your date to a place where he or she knows no one and feels pressured to impress everyone in your life. Dates involving groups of friends can be included in this as well. Unless you share the same group of friends, and don’t mind spending the night not getting to know each other better, group dates are as bad as family functions.

2 Theater

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What’s wrong with a movie, a play or the opera? Let’s think about that for a minute. You and your date would be sitting for at least an hour, more likely two hours, in complete silence, in the dark. How does that sound at all like getting to know each other? First dates should allow for at least some conversation. Save the movies and such for after you’ve dated for at least a month or two. This is when you’ll both appreciate not hearing each other’s thoughts and feelings for a while.

1 Overnighter

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Sure, the romance novels are full of jet-setting Romeos who whisk their ladies away on overnight dates to seal the deal, but in the real world, overnight first dates are disturbing and scary. Spending the night away from everyone and everything you know, or even holed up in some motel room or mountain lodge near your home, with a person you barely know is dangerous. If you agree to such a first date, you might want to stock up on mace and finalize your will.

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