Without Direction

“Sooo, where should we go?” asked Date #2 while we cruised down Ocean Parkway.

“Um…” I answered.

“Don’t you have a favorite hotel lobby or lounge?” he pressed.

“Uh…” I continued my train of thought. Aside from one really bad date at the Boro Park Plaza’s nonexistent lounge, my lounge-hopping experience was approximately nil. Besides the non-lounge date, my only other date had been a restaurant date. And come to think of it, that guy hadn’t known where to go either, and in the end I had to choose the restaurant. So on three out of my first four dates the guy hadn’t put much thought into destination.

“I don’t know,” my father shakes his head. “Dating sure has changed since my day.”

“You always had your destinations planned out?” I query.

“Well I sure put more thought into where to take the girl than about why her grandparents came to the United States!,” he says, thinking about a recent shidduch question. “Yes – where to go on dates was a pretty constant subject of conversation. You know, ‘I’m going on a date this weekend, where can I take her?’ I would never have dared ask a girl ‘Where should we go?’ in the car. I have enough trouble when I pull that on your mother on a night out.”

But, wondered I, can’t the modern and liberated woman participate in her date a bit? Or do we want a free ride with the luxury of being able to complain about it afterward? Or is it still considered manly to take charge? Maybe a bit of all, maybe a lot of none.

The problem with asking a girl where to go is that she’s not paying. Go on – ask me for the name of a nice restaurant. How does Prime Grill sound? Who wouldn’t want to dine five star on someone else’s tab? On the other end of the spectrum, I could suggest Famous Pita. Trying to eat a felafel politely is the sort of experience that will either make or break a date. Different sort of bang for your buck.

And even lounges have ranges. There’s the regular hotel lounge, with a ridiculous price for a bottle of water, and then there’s a cocktail lounge, with an extravagant price for a bottle of water, and then there’s a ritzy club lounge with a mind-boggling price for a bottle of water, which isn’t just any water, but pure water from the Swiss alps filtered through the pristine pipes of the Geneva municipal water system and bottled in the sparkling air of a mountain kitchen.

Personally, for all I care, we could stand on a street corner and drink water from one of those pushcarts, but a guy’s got to make a good show, and that manifests in choice of locale.

I remember Dreamer saying that her brothers prepare like crazy for their dates, unlike my first few guys. Which is more common?

51 thoughts on “Without Direction

  1. On my first date with my wife, we ate and then decided to go out for a walk. I had done that a number of times, and I always asked the girl if she had any direction to walk in mind. Each girl always told me she had no preference. My wife was the first date to actually have an idea where to go. The fact that she was willing to make a suggestion on a date (the first date!) showed me that she had an independent streak and was willing to work around the rules.

    Of course that’s very different than asking the girl, in the beginning of the date, where they should go. I see nothing wrong with asking the girl before the date, but once the date starts there has to be a plan. He can’t put her on the spot like that.

    As the relationship progresses, the girl should be more involved in the planning. There is no reason why the guy must plan every date until they are married.

  2. Back when I was dating, after many a weird and wasted experience, I came up with a simple first date formula:

    1. Always go on a week night.
    2. Make it a dinner date at a nice place.

    By going on a weeknight, it’s always an after work dinner date. That caps the amount of time one can reasonably expect to spend on the date. Because we will almost certainly be going directly from work the dress code, by default, is business attire (this was back when people dressed professionally). By going out to dinner someplace nice no one can lay claim to my being a cheapskate, class-less, or not having a plan. A nice restaurant also provides a quite place for conversation. Talking about food is an easy door opener for conversation. It also gave me a chance to get to know the girl well enough to formulate a plan for a second date should the need arise.

    Worst case: I get a decent dinner out of the date (albeit at twice the price) and can reasonably cut it short if necessary.

    By the way, I would almost always go to Moshe Peking in Manhattan. The maître de started giving me odd looks after once seeing four times in the same week with four different women. Never mind that one was my sister and one was an old friend (I had lost a bet). When I went with my soon-to-be-wife, we ordered the Peking duck (for two) and we took the voluminous doggie bag of leftovers back to her place for her brother and sister with whom she was sharing an apartment at the time. I became very popular very quickly. 🙂

  3. There isn’t anything wrong with asking your preferences, but he should have a few ideas in mind in case you don’t have an opinion.

  4. First date: Walked around on Main St., stopped in 7-11 for a while.

    Second date, which was actually planned: She brought some sushi (because I’d said I’d never tried it), and we spent a little while in some random room eating it before going outside to walk around.

  5. My first date place was almost always Cafe K, which isn’t bad and is relatively cheap. Then we’d walk around. Good food for a minimal cost.

  6. That being said, I always appreciate when my date is willing to help out a little bit. For example, if I ask if she prefers milichigs or fleishigs, it’s nice if she actually says what she prefers, rather than claiming that she doesn’t care, only to be upset later because I should have been able to read her mind that she is allergic to dairy.

  7. I remember Dreamer saying that her brothers prepare like crazy for their dates, unlike my first few guys. Which is more common?

    When you first start dating, you plan like crazy because you want it to be perfect.

    But when you’ve been doing it as long as I have, you become a seasoned pro, and it just comes naturally.

  8. I strongly agree with Nephtuli’s first comment. I also know guys who have gotten burned monetarily by letting the girl decide the first date (where she chose a more expensive restaurant then he would have). It leaves a bad feeling for the guy even though it was his fault…

  9. I agree with ahuva.

    Figure out three places to start: a lounge, a milchig resturaunt, and a flaishig one.

    And then ask her (open ended) if there is anywhere she particularly prefers to go.

    if she specifies, fine, if she doesn’t, also fine. etc. 🙂

  10. It’s absolute chutzpah for the guy not have at least an idea in mind before picking up the girl. Even if he has several discrete options but wants to give her a choice (milk vs. meat, or other detail), that’s OK, but that can be established earlier on the phone. For the Sunday afternoon dates that clearly warrant an activity (although I, like Mad Hungarian above, was partial to the first date being dinner on a weeknight – although I tried NOT to go to the same place every time so at least I got to see new things…) the guy should absolutely have a plan. [He should run it by her in advance, of course, but that is not me’akev.]

    Offering opinions and being spontaneous are all wonderful, but a guy should not assume that such is going to happen.

  11. I’m going to have to go with Yosef here. A guy is taking a girl out, zehu. She enjoys, he pays. Shalom Al Yisrael. You go to the Aquarium – you should know when they’re open, where to park, and have already bought tickets on the internet so that you don’t have to wait in line. Most girls want a guy who can provide some direction is life in general- not a tyrant, but someone who has a clue. Dating is where it all starts. Now, that’s preparation. But a date go either way. But you’ve got to be prepared and in control. Dump him!

  12. Mister, some women prefer being in control.

    I know at least one such woman, and while her husband lives in this fantasy land that he is in control, listen to his wife give him some instruction or his children ask him a question and you’ll see who really wears the pants in that relationship.

    “what are you asking me for? i can’t tell you yes! ask mommy!” is a common phrase. or “don’t ask me with that, ask my wife (or have to ask my wife).”

    They both get to have their cake and eat it too.

    and thank g-d, thats traditional in judaism. (there are thousands of examples of the unique fear, dread, aprehsion (and gopey love) which ashkenazi men held for their wives and mother-in-laws, and it has become a staple of jokes ever since it became that way.)

    (probably born out of the fact that ashkenazi talmudei chachamim, the upper social crust were completely subordinate and dependant on their wife’s every whim due to their early life in kollel (which was only for the upper crust) and her economic superiority, which then filtered down to the ballei batim who simply belived this was the way life should be.)

  13. I aso went to the Boro Park Plaza! It was so funny-there was no lounge just a bar with lots of loud music and dancing. So we finally found some chairs downstairs near the bathrooms. People kept staggering drunkenly downstairs and asking where the bathroom was and we directed them. very strange date..

  14. We just had someone over for Shabbos. The husband decided that if he won the lottery (Please G-d), he’s starting the first frum singles bar. I offered to shake cocktails. But it’s a pretty good idea.

  15. I think I speak for most women – We appreciate when a guy has a couple of ideas for the date. I hate it when the guy has no clue at all. If he’s not from your area, it’s nice if he suggests something, even if he may not know exactly how to get there (restaurant, Starbucks). But when a guy picks me up with absolutely no plan, it doesn’t bode well.

  16. Barmuda was supposed to be a singles bar – and it was booed out of existence before it existed.

  17. A lot of the comments are ridiculous -just because a guy doesn’t know where he is ‘supposed’ to take a girl, where a good ‘kosher’ date place is, doesn’t make him a bad person.
    Commenters on this blog always complain about judging someone based upon yihus or tablecloths or some other mishegas for judging girls’ families. That is the case here too judging guys by whether they know how to found hip socializing spots.
    This is especially true if the guy is not from that area. E.g. let’s say the guy is from boro park and the girl is from lawrence. How is he supposed to know what there is to do in lawrence? Has he spent much time there? What if he doesnt have good friends from there he can ask? If he just does a google search for “lounge” or “drinks” he could end up in a strip club! Shouldn’t he be able to at least expect that the girl will know something in her own neighborhood? (I’ve gone out with girls who don’t even know how to get to the highway from their houses…)

    We all complain that girls are made to be too passive in the shidduch process – the guys have the lists and choose the girls to go out with etc. So here, finally, the guy asks the girl where she wants to go, if she knows any place in here own neighborhood where she would like to go, and suddenly the girl is an aidel maidel and never opens her mouth with an opinion?!

    I don’t like coffee, don’t know what the heck is supposed to go on in a lounge (lounging? should i bring my cigar and smoking vest and play bridge?), and walking seems pretty boring to me.
    Am I supposed to spend all that money eating out every date?
    Am I supposed to be an expert at finding entertainment places in the city?
    Please tell me, what’s a “good” date place?
    And if a good place be found, suddenly its all full of shidduch dating jews, and better stop going there or you might be seen or bump into someone you know.
    It’s lose lose.

    Sorry for the rant. Had to make sure the opposing side was expressed.

  18. and if you don’t have any friends there?

    and searching online doesn’t work very well.

    what if he isn’t very good with google?

    I for one would have NO CLUE how to figure out where to go if I were using the internet, and wouldn’t know who to ask. I’d figure out something, but I’d really end up just asking someone like my rosh yeshiva (in the case of new york city) where I should go, and if she’s from chicago? I’d have no clue even where to begin! I don’t know anyone in chicago, I know one frum person in LA, and I don’t know anyone in atlanta, nor in cleveland (anymore) nor in Lakewood (rather avoid that place with a ten foot pole) and maybe I know someone in baltimore to ask. Pitsburg and boston are the only place where I’d really be able to find much out about, because I know two people from there, and heaven knows they could figure out something.

    so what would I be supposed to do? (other than call some random very confused person and ask, maybe a local shliach?)

  19. If you’re traveling to go on a date, and you really have no clue, then be upfront about that when you call the girl. But if you’re dating in New York, you’ve got no excuse. There are plenty of websites that list good activities for dates in New York. And if you don’t know anyone in New York, well then you’ve got to get some more friends.

  20. Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka (and others) is right – no excuse not to have somewhere to go. The guy can ask where the girl wants to go (to be polite) but should always have something planned (again, as others have said). So many dates I’ve been on have not thought about it and asked where I’d like to go and it’s quite awkward having to think on the spot of somewhere that’s open/appropriate/easy to get to. Specially when it’s usually with someone who you’ve only met right then.

    To me, it shows lack of initiative/confidence to have no plan and dates have always been more enjoyable without that added pressure of having to make such decisions.

  21. My favorite part of blogs and the ensuing comments…people just straight out talking past each other.

    I don’t think anybody really disagrees here. The guy should try and have an option at the ready when he arrives to meet the young lady. If he feels that he will be unable to accomplish that, for whatever reason, then the polite thing to do is mention this fact at some point prior to the actual date so as to give fair warning.

    That’s all, take tare now…bye bye.

    wopps!…almost forgot: “Personally, for all I care, we could stand on a street corner and drink water from one of those pushcarts, but a guy’s got to make a good show, and that manifests in choice of locale”

    –indeed! I doubt that very much (all things being equal), but fair enough. So you don’t care where you go, but at the same time the guy needs to make a good show because it’s a manifestation that he cares?

  22. As LWY said – in the beginning, most guys plan, but as they get into things, they already know where to go and they themselves give the advice to others.

    I hated it when a guy asked me where to go once we were already in the car. My mind always blanked and I sounded stupid.

  23. personaly I’d phrase the question on the lines of:

    “is there anywhere you really like to go on dates?”

    if not, just inquire if she would like to eat and if so if she prefers milchigs or flaishigs, and off you go.

    (am I the only one who things that proper ice cream parlors with sit down tables would be great places for dates?)

  24. Though I think it would be prudent for a gentleman to have some idea of where he wants to go on a date, I wouldn’t make an issue out of it.

    I appreciate being involved in the decision of where to go, and I’d never use that opportunity to burn a hole in anyone’s wallet! (Besides for the simple consideration of your date’s preferences, there are some classic dating spots that are problematic for me because of my hearing difficulty.)

  25. The boy had no ideas? A lot of time can be lost to the dance of “where do you wanna go?” “where do YOU wanna go?” when neither has any idea or preference. Someone should have a plan, and it should be articulated at the outset.

  26. For me personally, its all about respect. If a guy shows up on a date with absolutely no plan in mind, it shows that he didn’t respect the girl or the date enough to put in any thought into it beforehand. I’ve had guys offer me a choice, which is fine, but I usually don’t pick because I’m not the one driving and its not my money…in ‘real life’, i have my own opinion, and definitely don’t need someone to open the car door for me, but its all part of being extremely respectful to eachother on a first date. And I really don’t buy the stuff about being from out of town; if the guy really doesn’t know anyone who lives there, and really can’t use the internet, he must at least know someone who can! In the days of Mapquest and GPS, there really are no excuses…

  27. oh-my-GOD!!!

    I’ve had guys offer me a choice, which is fine, but I usually don’t pick because I’m not the one driving and its not my money

    –He gave you a choice! Do you think someone would give out an option that was beyond their means or that they were not okay with?…and what does driving have to w/ anything, other than it being a figure of speech meant to imply “I am the girl and therefore have no responsibility here what so ever”?

    …in ‘real life’, i have my own opinion,

    –I see, and the idea on a date is to what exactly…play make believe, get him to like a fictional version of you? Yes, people are not “themselves” all at once when going out but having an opinion is not so much being yourself as displaying the ability to think.

    and definitely don’t need someone to open the car door for me,

    –some people appreciate it, some could not care less…mention this the first time and it becomes a non issue.

    but its all part of being extremely respectful to eachother on a first date.

    –You know what else is respectful? When somebody asks you a direct question…answer it. A or B, pick one. Saying that “you don’t care” or “it makes no difference to you” or “whatever you want” is not respectful, helpful or useful. If someone cares enough to solicit your input have the grace to supply some.

    And I really don’t buy the stuff about being from out of town;

    –Two guesses where you live…

    if the guy really doesn’t know anyone who lives there,

    –Shocking I know, right. I mean what kind of human being doesn’t have a NY contact.

    and really can’t use the internet,

    –Outside of an hotel/restaurant the internet is exactly useless in finding a place for a shidduch date…and it still will not allow you to know if the found hotel/restaurant is an appropriate destination. These things matter to most guys, you cannot just pick a place off the net and hope that it will be okay.

    he must at least know someone who can!

    –see above

    In the days of Mapquest and GPS, there really are no excuses…

    –Huh??? These may prevent you from getting significantly lost, but that’s about it.

    ***Shidduch dating for a young lady is far from a day at the beach (realx…i’m sure it has seperate areas for men and women), but it’s not like it’s a walk in the park for guys either***

  28. My policy is to ask the girl on the phone call where she wants to go. Like this, I’m not putting her on the spot when we’re in the car, but at the same time, I’m giving her a chance to decide where to go. Of course, I usually get a response like “whatever you want” or “i don’t know, where do you want to go?” So I give the girl a few options, but often, I end up going wherever I want to go. I think it’s a win-win policy.

  29. Yoni – thanks for the laugh:
    you may be the only guy i’ve ever heard of who’s asked his rosh yeshiva where to take a girl on a date.

  30. I don’t know anyone else but the rosh yeshiva! (or practicaly don’t!)

    he has been marrying off kids for a while, he’d be able to figure it out.

    who else should I ask? walk up to some random stranger in the zal where I haven’t been for years and ask him where to go on a date? I mean like really, come on!

  31. Personally, I like if the guy gives me a couple of options to choose from, but I prefer that to happen before the date, not when I get in the car. And if the date is starting at an ambiguous time I’ll even come straight out and ask if I should eat before we go (like 8 pm–early enough that I might not have eaten dinner yet but late enough that I could have if I knew to eat beforehand). I actually prefer being made aware of my options and/or the guy’s plan beforehand, so that way I won’t make any wrong assumptions. (Let me tell you, it’s not fun to assume you’re going out to eat and then get coffee or sit in a hotel lobby. No one’s at their best when irritable from lack of food.)

  32. well, G, in my defense, I really am not trying to “cop out” of making a decision. I truly, truly do not care if he takes me to a lounge, or to a restaurant etc, so let him decide! And yes, in my experience, a first date is absolutely and completely NOT real life…it is one of the most artificial and uncomfortable things you can ask a guy and a girl can do. Obviously, both sides will try and be on their best behavior.
    But i do confess to be an ‘in town’ dater…please accept my apologies for my lack of understanding.

  33. I truly, truly do not care if he takes me to a lounge, or to a restaurant etc, so let him decide!
    Oh for the love of…that ship sailed the moment he asked for your opinion. The guy is just trying to be nice(!), if it truly, truly doesn’t matter than why not just give, give an answer:)

    I had a date where the young lady was so adamant about not “caring”, “choosing” or in general having an opinion that I literally had to threaten that I would simply continue driving on the highway until an option was chosen.

    When did turning into a vapid aidel-maidel become the defacto setting for “best behavior”?

    As for being an “in town” dater…well nobody’s perfect;), and now you know…which as we all know is half the battle.

  34. yes but it’s the easier half… 😛

    and I’ll point out that, yes, he’s trying to be nice.

    and vapid is not cool. Vapid is so-turned-off-that-i’m-going-to-turn-around-and-drop-her-off-now not cool.

    As in I wouldn’t spend five more minutes in her company not cool.

  35. Haven’t had anyone chop off my head for at least two hours so what the hey. 1)If the boy gets to ask, and he does, he needs to broach where they are going on the phone before the date, not during. His responsibility doesn’t end with making the call. 2)If he wants to give two options, fine. If the girl can’t or won’t choose, then he gets to and no one has any reason to complain. 3)Said out of towner got fixed up by someone–the date didn’t materialize out of the air. Ask the shadchan where to go! I guarantee that she has contacts even if he doesn’t. 4) Girls have mouths too. On the phone, should the boy not mention where you are going, ASK! Ever been picked up where you are wearing high heels and a suit and he has decided on bowling? 5)Tons of NY girls who don’t drive and therefore have very little idea of how to give directions on getting places outside of their own neighborhoods. If you think that will be a problem guys, call AAA, ask a friend beforehand or, GASP!, ask the girl’s father–you know? The guy who met you at the door? 6) Don’t know where to go and don’t have a friend to ask? http://www.nyc.gov–searchable city database that lists every museum, every historic place, every zoo, every park, every cultural attraction in the city. shamash.org–type in the city name and get lists of all the restaurants, including reviews and discussion of cost. There is no excuse and no reason for a date’s destination to be an afterthought.

  36. I always like when the guy asks on the phone…(i guess those who don’t do the phone call don’t have this option) I am opiniated, and usually make a suggestion or two. This way I don’t end up bowling in fancy clothing. My version of fancy, is well, a Touro kid’s college wardrobe. They’d “chalish” if they had to date in their “junky college” clothes.
    I feel domineering when I make suggestions, but others say it takes pressure off him to decide.

  37. AS for Yoni’s comment (#27) no you’re not the only one. That sounds like a good idea. I guess it’s kinda like Starbucks, but not. Depends which starbucks…

  38. What’s more normal for a yeshiva bochur to ask his RoshYeshiva on advice before having his first date ever? They don’t have shiurim on it at the yeshiva, as far as I know, and you don;t necessarily want your friends to know that yu are dating, so it does sound like a good option!
    Obviously, after acquiring some experience with the time, you don’t need the interference of your R”Y…

  39. Scraps: thanks for bringing up the ‘will we go out to eat’ question.
    I know I should ask whether to eat before the date, but don’t (usually because I don’t want it to sound like I’m asking to be taken out to eat…)
    Any thoughts?

    I have at least one friend who just announces that she is starving when she gets in the car… (again, a bit too obvious for me…)

    Any ideas on how to do this anyone?

    I’ve spent many a date with a growling stomach…

  40. Pingback: Friday Repost: Should This Really Impress Me? | Bad for Shidduchim

  41. This is really funny, actually. On our first date, being that he drove into Toronto and didn’t know the area, we were told to go to a restaurant (chalavi), and I said that I hate restaurants, evoking my mother’s ire. We ended up taking a bus to the bookstore, in order to prove that women can or can’t put on tefillin, and buying a gift certificate for a bar mitzva to help my mother out (her money). In the end we agreed to disagree, because we didn’t find the source we were looking for. (But I did find an old print of a book I’d wanted, and insisted on paying for it with my own money.) Now, try topping that.

    BTW, I married one of the previous commenters (which is why this thread is so funny). Now you can guess which one.

  42. Pingback: Part 2 of 2: The View from the Top of the Stairs | Bad for Shidduchim

  43. Aren’t marriages supposed to be about cooperation? So test each other’s ability to cooperate by planning together where to go beforehand (phone call, email, skype). This goes for all the interactions during dating. On my one and only date, I let the guy pay for the meal, but that was because I had already spent more than the cost of the meal traveling to meet him. Otherwise, I see no reason for the man to pay when we live in a world where the woman often earns more- both should be able to indicate their financial independence.

  44. Pingback: Repost: The Number One Most Annoying Dating Faux Pas in All of Dating | Bad for Shidduchim

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