First dates are like puberty, you just want to get them out of the way so you can get to the good part…boobs. Meeting a potential partner for the first time is awkward enough without the added pressures of them being a complete social snore. Or even worse, an over zealous poor-choice-maker. In my year of single-dom, I’ve practically been forced into every first date scenario known to man. Everything but the one where Chris Hansen from NBC’s Dateline comes out and asks my date why he’s got a Costco pack of zip ties in his center console. Being of age really has it’s perks these days, doesn’t it? There came a point when I threw being courted out the window and just accepted that if I didn’t meet this guy in a dark alley after his shift ended, I was probably never going to know what he looked like offline.

If dating myself is wrong, I see no reason to be right. I find myself doing things alone that really ignite my “first date” fire. I say to myself “Hey, this would be a really good way to get to know somebody”. Next thing I know, the guy I gave my number to at the bar on Saturday wants to know if I’d like to join him at a ‘family BBQ’. Great thinking stranger, I can’t wait to mouth-fuck a hot dog in front of your grandpa. Every time a guy tries to take our texting game to a new ‘personal’ level, I sit back in anticipation for the terrible date he’s about to sell me.

Consider your first date idea to be like your resume. It’s a platform for judgment. The fate of our potential relationship lies in the itinerary you’ve created. If I told you how to date me, I’d just resent you in the end for making me do all the work. So, instead, I’ve created a list of the top 10 worst places for a first date:

1. Redbox movie at home
Right off the bat this says “I’m willing to spend $1.60 to run as many bases as a Will Ferrell movie will allot me”. Never meet a guy for the first time at a house. Not his, not yours, not even the Pancake one. Just stay as far away from this idea as you can. I don’t care what Academy Award winner just went straight to DVD, you guys can meet at a movie theatre, where the viewing expense may be higher but the rape rates aren’t.

2. The Gym
There are a certain amount of dates mandatory before you’re allowed to hear me out of breath. And it’s not, one. Nothing says “I’m a superficial prick” like a first date trip to the weight rack. As much as I love working out, I go to the gym with the intent of being as terrifying visually as my body will allow. I moan, grunt and often times cry myself through my sets and honestly there’s nothing romantic about being the human equivalent to a slip n’ slide.

3. Your ‘home bar’
Ever have a car pull out in front of you and instead of braking appropriately you just want to punch it? That’s how I feel about guys who take me to their ‘home bar’. He says we’re going to a ‘nice sit down restaurant’ and all of a sudden he’s shakin’ dicks with the bouncer outside of America’s doucheiest dive. *screeching tire noise* Hold up. Once I show this toolsack my personal identification which one of your bartender friends do I have to pay off before you wake me up from this nightmare? Heavy pours, and stupid whores. Stay classy, Orange County.

4. Shopping
I get it, you’re ‘loaded’. But a guy who takes a woman shopping on their first date is just asking for trouble. I’m about as thrifty as a girl can get, shit I scan the Sunday paper weekly for coupons. So this kind of plan just ruffles my frugal feathers. Might as well just start buying hookers. Less commitment, spending about the same monetarily…and unlike at the end of our date, you’re guaranteed a hand job.

5. Group Date
If you like going to a wedding where your best friend is marrying the chick you brought to a group outing for your first date, go for it. Cause this kind of date just says “I have no romantic interest, she’s a free for all”. You’ve essentially killed two birds with one stone while you killed any and all potential for a second date…smart move Casanova. While you bear-wrestle your buddies, I’ll be in line for the non-metaphorical rollercoaster…praying your bromance car derails on the big drop.

6. Yardhouse
Just like Starbucks, there’s one of these on just about every corner. So, although the lighting is perfect, both of our games are probably on, and there’s an endless amount of beer options…a Yardhouse date screams “I forgot to Yelp, this will do”. Orange County is the mecca of dinner time innovation; a god damn foodie’s paradise. So although I’ve specifically mentioned Yardhouse as an awful choice, I’d like to put more emphasis on just not throwing all of your egg’s into a chain restaurant basket.

7. A BBQ Joint
As if I’m not self conscience enough about my face, lets add the insult of brown sauce to the list. Or, let’s not. Buying me a half rack of ribs, won’t get you a full rack of Taryn, because BBQ joints are only for when you’re on vacation in Texas, with a minimum of 6 months under your relationship belt.

8. The Strip Club
What, were you raised by the cast of True Blood? Fuck you, no.

9. Anything Competitive
These are my favorite 2nd and so forth dates. Date one is the only asterisk to this genre. The reason being that whipping a grown man’s ass at any sport not only crushes his spirit, but it instills an immediate friend zoning tendency in an otherwise potential match. A man will never find it easy to bring around a lady who can dunk his manhood straight into the court floor. Those kinds of risks aren’t worth the reward. You are now a liability and can’t be trusted with his feelings.

10. A Funeral
Ten bucks says there isn’t a chance in hell that you both know the body going into the ground. And if you do, there’s something more eerie going on here then just laying a friend to rest. Either way, don’t let the very start of your blossoming relationship be at the very end of a special someone’s life. That’s morbid. And fucking creepy. I don’t care how bangin’ either of you look in black, you’d be naïve to think that anyone is going to be feeling up for a rousing conversation before, after, or during this incredibly stupid date idea.

There you have it, ten ways to ensure your first date is your last. Don’t ever let anybody tell you that it doesn’t matter what you do on a date, ‘as long as you are together’. Because those people are fucking liars. It does matter. Every date leaves a lasting impression, including the negative kind when a shit head takes you to any of the above mentioned spots. So, I’m not saying shoot for perfection, but reach into your creativity jar and figure out a way to be engaging and enjoyable. And if you can’t figure out how to be either, there’s no reason to make a stranger sit through two to four hours of the ‘good ‘ol college try’. Just be single. Date yourself. Go buck wild at a strip club BBQ joint on a group date after some competitive bowling next to your home bar right before the gym. That’ll get it out of your system.

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