Cheap Date Ideas: Dr. Seth’s Top 5 Suggestions

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If you think you need to spend a Kardashian-style wad of cash to pull off a great date, you are falling hook, line, and sinker for everything movies and TV tell us about dating. I worked with one young man years ago who sent a limousine to pick up a woman for their first date, and I swallowed hard when I heard the news. Yes, we see this behavior in the movies, but is it really necessary? Moreover, can anyone keep that up? Not surprisingly, that man’s relationship ended a couple years later and he always felt inferior, convinced he couldn’t be “enough” to make her happy. He always tried to one-up himself and to make the next date or vacation more exciting or exotic, but he forgot the most basic dating rule in the world: If someone really likes you, they don’t need all the bells and whistles.

The best dates are always dates that involve two key ingredients: a bit of adventure and the chance to talk. Remember that adventure can take many forms, and you’ll see what I mean in a moment.

Indoor or Outdoor Festivals

Taking a date to a festival is always a good idea because it allows the two of you to roam and wander, and conversation arises organically. Festivals are terrific because they offer all kinds of distractions so that you don’t feel uncomfortable with the usual first date face-off: two people staring at each other, firing questions at each other as each person fidgets and secretly feels that they’re being examined under a microscope. At festivals, too, you can get to know your date better because you can see what types of things they like and what they’re drawn to.

Traditional or Not-So-Traditional Museums

When you think of a museum, do you imagine something quiet and boring? If you’re like many people, the answer is yes! While more traditional museums – say, art or natural history – are fine if that’s your interest, don’t forget that there are scores of other types of museums that fly under the radar. In Los Angeles, where I live, we have everything from a contemporary art museum to a museum celebrating death. Take your date to an off-the-map museum and you can explore something weird and exciting together. Also, many of the big museums sponsor a night each week where they have live music or movie nights, and these are great ways to do something different with a date.

Outdoor Malls

Have you noticed a major trend in mall developments over the past ten or so years? In the past, malls were indoor affairs, but most new malls being developed today are outdoor. Walking around an outdoor mall with your date is a great chance to explore and people watch, but it’s also a great excuse to be outside – and happy people spend more time outside than unhappy people do!

Visit a different part of your town or city.

Most of us are creatures of habit, which means that we tend to find places we like and keep going back to them. If you live in a large city, there are some areas you may never visit because getting there sounds like a major production. Even if you live in a small town, there are probably a few places you have seen but never visited. Take one of your dates to a different part of town to eat or walk around. This type of adventure – seeing new things – can help to stimulate the two of you and fuel that sense of discovery and adventure.

Quick tips for planning

When you are working out date ideas with your new interest, it’s always respectful to give him or her a couple of choices. Come up with a few ideas and let your date make the choice. In addition, make sure to leave your date space to come up with ideas, too, by asking if there was something else they would prefer to do. Above all, remember to relax and enjoy your surroundings on a date because – and you know this too well – sometimes you end up liking the activity more than the actual person.

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About the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve


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