I Want to Take a First Date to Lunch During the Work Day. Why Is This a Terrible Idea?



I met a girl online and we are meeting for the first time for lunch this week. We talked on the phone for hours already and she texts me often. We seem to connect very well.

Are there any tips you have for me to make meeting her a bit more special? We are both busy people, so the lunch idea came up, because we both work near one another in town. Since this is the first contact in person I will have with her, I didn’t want to make it too high of pressure or a formal date.


Dear Matt,

My philosophy for first dates was first outlined in “I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book – A Commonsense Guide to Successful Internet Dating”. The chapter was called, “How Caffeine Kills Chemistry, and Other Controversial Theories on Dating”, and, in essence, it said this:

If you can’t kiss at Starbucks, what’s the point of going to Starbucks for a first date?

There was more… but that was the gist of it.

While I won’t retract my theory entirely, I do have some modifications I’d like to make.

I am still firm that slowing down is an essential component to making your first dates pop.

The problem with online dating is its illusion of instant gratification. Guy gets rejected by 100 women and becomes convinced that if he only goes FASTER that he’d get a chance at a first date. Woman emails a guy for a month, only to find out he’s 5 years older and 30 lbs heavier than he stated; she becomes convinced that if she only goes FASTER, she wouldn’t have wasted so much time.

If you can’t kiss at Starbucks, what’s the point of going to Starbucks for a first date?

The reaction to our respective failures is to cut to the chase TOO fast. As a result, you email total strangers and say, “You look cute. Let’s meet at Starbucks on Tuesday”. But you’re missing an important part of the dating process – namely, the getting-to-know-you part. By circumventing the normal process of courtship – you’re skipping an integral building block for a first date.

Believe me – I get why you do it. You’ve been burned. You’re busy. You don’t want to waste time. Got it. Then you have no one but yourself to blame when you go on a series of blind dates with unscreened losers. That’s what you get when you meet strangers after only a brief email exchange.

Matt, to his credit, didn’t do this. In fact, he spent hours and hours on the phone, building trust, rapport, and comfort. What does this mean for Matt? It means that if his date’s considering 5 guys from Match.com right now, and 4 of them are emailing her: “You’re hot! Let’s meet up!”, Matt’s going to stand out, just by being a little patient. Restraint is a very powerful tool in a man’s arsenal.

Just by taking a little time to make a woman comfortable – a few emails, a couple phone calls – Matt can earn the right to pick her up at her place for a Saturday night date. The same exact woman who would otherwise insist that a first date meet her at a coffee shop. If you doubt me, I have a few hundred examples suggesting otherwise. Slowing down really does result in better first dates.

But you already know this, Matt. Thus, your real dilemma is in figuring out what a good date looks like for you. And that’s personal. For some people, the ideal date IS coffee/lunch. A quick meeting to determine basic physical chemistry. Well, if that’s the case, then you don’t need my advice. Find a place that’s mutually convenient, well-lit, and inexpensive. Ask questions. Pick up the check. You’re all set.

So what’s wrong with disco bowling and beer on a Friday night? What’s wrong with mini-golf on a Saturday afternoon?

My question to you is this: do you LIKE lunch dates? Low stakes, low price, low romance, “I have to be back in my office in an hour” interview type scenarios? God knows, I always HATED such dates. And if you find them lame and you want your first meeting to have a bit of a spark, you have to work backwards from how you want your date to end. For me, ending on a kiss was important. Thankfully, you’ve already earned enough equity with her to take her on a real date that doesn’t involve a midday break.

So what’s wrong with disco bowling and beer on a Friday night? What’s wrong with mini-golf on a Saturday afternoon? What’s wrong with night-time appletinis at a speakeasy on Saturday night? What’s wrong with taking her hiking (or sledding?) on a Sunday afternoon?

None of this is formal. None of this is high pressure. None of this is terribly expensive. None of this means you’re locked in to six hours together. All this establishes is that you’re a man with a plan. A little creativity and atmosphere goes a long way in setting the TONE of the first date.

And if I have any objection to coffee/lunch, Matt, is that it is the wrong TONE for romance. It’s the wrong tone for laughter. It’s the wrong tone for anything but an interview that assumes failure. You don’t set up a half-hour $3 date if you think it’s going to go swimmingly well.

Take it from a guy who has gone out with hundreds of women:

If you treat her special, she’ll be special.

If you show her a good time, she’ll have a good time.

If you give her a chance to shine, she’ll have a greater opportunity to shine.

And if you want to get a kiss, you’re much more likely to get it at night. I have not once had a great date at the Coffee Bean or Quizno’s or Jamba Juice or the Daily Grill. It could be just coincidence, but the sample size is large enough to conclude that certain settings are more conducive to romance than others.

Be the generous guy who really wants to show her a lot of fun, and I’ll bet you have a lot of fun, too.

Click here to understand how to conquer the frustrating world of online dating!

Join our conversation (86 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 21

    Li-Ann, you seek chemistry on the first date? Don’t most women warm up to a man after 3 dates?…

  2. 22

    Sure coffee is boring – so is tea, coca-cola, or a glass of wine. The beverage and the location are not what are important. It’s the two people drinking the coffee, soda or wine that need to click – and when you click, you click anywhere.


  3. 23

    Meeting for coffee?

    It’s not a date. It’s a job interview, and usually about as fun.

  4. 24

    Most men know at first sight, if we like a woman or not, we don’t need more than 30 minutes…

  5. 25

    Casualencounters – now I understand what you were referring to! When I said “a woman walks in 30 lbs over what the man expected” I wasn’t referring to myself, I’m not 30 lbs overweight. I meant that as a general example of how a real life face-to-face meeting could go wrong, after a month of excellent emails. It could also be that she is not what he expected in other ways. Or, he is not what she expected.

    Hunter – no I don’t seek chemistry on the first date. What I meant was a situation where I meet someone for the very first time, but he is completely not what I was looking for. Someone I normally would not consider in a real-life situation. I often cannot tell this until we meet if our only contact beforehand was through email. Naturally, if the man fits within what I happen to personally like, I will give it more time.

  6. 26

    Selena, posts #18 – 19: word.

    Blogs like David’s are becoming a dime a dozen. A lot of young kids who don’t know anything are regurgitating content they read from PUA lit ( sketchy to begin with ) and then strutting around like they invented dating.

  7. 27
    David Gideon

    Let’s get my previous post clear. I said AFTER the date invite her back to your place and tell her she can only stay for 30 minutes.. That’s a time-constraint to offset pressure & assumptions about the guys intentions. Secondly, I tease & joke with women because I’m confident where most guys are on their best behavior & placating at all times with beautiful women i.e not natural. Thirdly, some venues are just boring & cliche, regardless of the people there. Fun & creative dates are better. Stand out from the crowd. EVERY GUY meets her at the coffee shop, takes her do dinner and a movie.

    David Gideon´s last blog post…Neil Strauss Dating Course Lesson 8

  8. 29
    David Gideon

    I should add that some of my advice is geared towards exceptionally attractive women with high self-esteem. Teasing women who feel unattractive and have low self-esteem will backfire.

    David Gideon

    David Gideon´s last blog post…Neil Strauss Dating Course Lesson 8

  9. 30

    Re: #29

    And I would counter, attractive women with high self-esteem would find a companion who called them a “retard” or teased them “Oh my God, you can’t read!” – unbelievably immature, ignorant, unpleasant and not worth further conversation. Let alone a date, a relationship, or even a no-strings roll in the hay.

  10. 31
    David Gideon

    Selena, your statement is a gross generalization. What a girl finds humor in depends on the personality and humor of the girl. If you really are a slow-reader and I tease you about it I guess you’d be offended. But if you read just fine & I make an obvious joke about your reading ability it becomes funny.

    David Gideon´s last blog post…Neil Strauss Dating Course Lesson 8

  11. 33

    Selena, not even a no-strings roll in the hay?…aaaahhha, that’s not fair…..

  12. 34

    The average man is “immature” as per women standards.

  13. 35

    I might not necessarily see anything wrong with a man inviting me to his place after a date, but what kind of host tells their guest they are only invited for 30 minutes, anyway? Because he has something important to do afterwards?!

    I would probably be happy, actually, to hear this kind of an “invitation” as it gives me so much information about the person so soon.

    Selena, any PUA advice is not worth your ire. 🙂

    David Gideon, you are mistaken on the “very attractive with very high self-esteem” part. These women may be very attractive, but the very reason they respond to a pickup technique in the first place is insecurity.

    That’s the target audience of PUA’s in general – the insecure and the self-unaware. (Is there such a word? Well, there should be. :-p)

  14. 36

    One of the ways of attracting people TO you is to make them feel attractive WITH you.

    If a women trips while walking beside you, you get the opportunity to put your arm around her gently to steady her. You could make a joke out of it, “Usually I’m the one the pavement trolls are out to get.” You don’t want her to feel embarrased, you want to make her feel good about you.

    If she mispronounces a word, you can say you thought it was pronounced….(the correct way). And you go on to tell her about a word or few that have given you trouble. This can lead to a conversation involving all kinds of plays on words; puns, light double entendre.

    The idea you want to leave her with is that you are smart, funny, sweet and a great guy. Not the bratty little brother she would never consider sleeping with. Attractive women with high self esteem are not interested in dating boys who will snap the back of their bra strap and find it hilarious.

    Old, old phrase: You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. When it comes to potential lovers it couldn’t be more true.

  15. 37

    @Steve: I actually have to agree with you on this about dating blogs, too saturated, although I don’t disagree with Gideon’s advice.

    Lance´s last blog post…Give Freebies To Build Your Creative Portfolio

  16. 38

    @David- in your initial post you mentioned letting the woman come to your place first, show her you wouldn’t try anything, and then invite her back later with the time constraint. On a first date, a lot of women aren’t going to go for stopping by the guy’s house, especially first thing.

    And while the type of ‘teasing’ banter you describe may work for some, for others it will be seen as transparent and/or annoying. It can be so off-putting, and not just for the ugly/slow reader set, that I would think it’s not worth trying, but that’s just me.

  17. 39

    David; post #32.

    I think Matt is in good hands with Evan’s advice.

  18. 40

    @gideon — ummm, have you ever actually READ any of evan’s books, articles, posts…? you might want to do so before giving your own “advice” to the readers on this site. it scares me to think that anyone here would give credence to what you suggest. read some of evan’s stuff…really…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *