Real Date, Zoom Date, Errand Date, Room Date

               Why, yes, this blog title’s is based off of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I won’t be giving ideas for fun things to do, but discussing the types of dates that we sometimes fall into. These may occur at any stage of dating or during a relationship, and the level of satisfaction can vary for each person. It’s kind of like love languages or attachment styles; the type of date you prefer can be unique and, ideally, should mesh or be accepted by your partner. I’ve identified four overarching kinds of dates and each come with their own pros and cons. What works for one couple may not work for another, and that’s okay.

               The first is our prototypical, traditional idea of a “real date.” This is dinner and a movie, going out for coffee or meeting a bar, going on a hike or doing an activity together, meeting at a secondary location and getting to know each other type thing. In many ways, this is idealized and can have some pressure put on it by inside or outside people, especially that idea of a “first date.” What makes it real? Well, as we’ll see with some of our later date types, this one allows the couple the most time to get to know each other and see how they interact with the world in the most honest way. The key aspect is that it is outside and allows concentrated time for each person to focus on each other in a certain environment that is beyond either one’s control. These dates can be planned and fun, educational or entertaining, and we learn about compatibility through these activities but there’s still plenty of distractions so we’re not completely focused on each other the entire time. In a sustained, long term relationship, these are the dates that may fall to the side as everyday life takes precedence. Some people love going out for dates, but others prefer to stay in. There is an idea that a real date has to be expensive, but that isn’t true and, most times, it’s the effort and time spent together that is the real end goal.

               The second type is the “Zoom date” which essentially covers any kind of digital meeting between two people with romantic intentions. During times of social distance this type seems the easiest, but it comes with its own pros and cons. The activities during these dates are, of course, limited by the couple’s imaginations, time, and technology. Data may be limited or glitches may happen. As we’ve seen from the popularity of MTV’s Catfish, it’s not unlikely that people lie about their appearance, identity, or life in digital relationships (which is why video chat verification is important). However, Zoom dates do make long distance possible and still allow for getting to know each other. Like most digital appearances, it can feel, at times, like they’re getting to know a persona rather than the real you. The date ends when everyone logs out and it may a little unreal, to be honest, because it’s—bam—over and done with. A Zoom date is like hanging out and doing fun things together, but without the benefit of touch. Whether the digital relationship revolves around gaming, chatting, or finding other ways to connect, as long as it feels viable and both people are happy then it works on some level.

               An “errand date” is our third kind and, I’ll be honest, I have some strong feelings about this one. What is this? Basically, you and your date run errands together: groceries, the bank, car wash, stopping by the office, grabbing coffee, etc. The difference between a real date and an errand date is the time spent at each location and the intention. If you go to get coffee with the intention of staying for a while and talking and learning more about each other—that’s a real date. If you grab coffee on the way to do something else as you chat—that’s an errand date. It all comes down to time. A lot of couples in long term relationships may run errands together and that’s fine. My issue comes when you are not in a long term relationship or when this becomes the default date setting. Case in point: I realized I spent more time waiting in the car during errand dates than I did experiencing real dates. Additionally, some use an errand date as an excuse to squeeze in the maximum amount of experience into the minimum amount of time. This doesn’t actually equate to learning about each other, but it may seem as if you have. Now, if you run an errand date building up to a real date, that can be fun; like, grocery shopping to prepare for cooking together or getting the car washed for a day trip. Don’t use errand dates as your only way to spend time together outside. Everyone deserves real dates.

               Lastly, we have “room dates” which is another way of saying house dates. I’ve been listening to the Self-Love Fix podcast lately and episode seven focused on this idea of the house date versus the real date (which is where the inspiration for this blog came from; thanks Beatrice!). I’m sure by now we’re all familiar with “Netflix and Chill”, right? Well, a room date is the opposite of the real date; rather than going outside, we stay inside. This can have pros: we save money, get to know one another on a personal level, become comfortable, etc. However, as Beatrice points out, the issue is either when we’re only having room dates or when they happen too early and we skip that real date getting-to-know-you stage. The room date creates a sense of comfort and can make us feel like we know someone more than we do and can make it harder to break away later when it’s clear things may not be working out. In a long term relationship, we’ve grown into and have developed that level of comfort with our partner naturally. Additionally, a partner who relies on room dates may not have or want to put in the skills, finances, or effort for a real date. Do you know how many dates I’ve been on that fell into the fast food, Netflix, athletic shorts category? We deserve better.

               Ideally, perhaps, a relationship might mix all of these or some of them. Every couple is different and every person within it has preferences. I’ll admit that I’m primarily a home date kind of girl (introvert) with Zoom date as a language (keep in touch) and real dates at heart (hopeless romantic still) but errand dates as a possibility (also a realist). The idea of what romance can be or is is highly subjective. However, we are all deserving of it, and figuring out what kind of date works best for us can help spark those flames once again.