At first blush, the question “What do you want to do” seems very simple.
But as anyone who has ever asked anyone else out on a date will tell you, it’s not so simple. In fact, I’d wager that question is one of the most agonized-over of all the questions dating people will ask each other.
I exchanged this set of text messages with a lady I’ve been on a few dates with. The context: We had made plans to get together, but had not decided on anything beyond “We’re getting together Thursday.”
Me: So what would you like to do tomorrow?
Her: Do we need to do anything? Or, maybe to rephrase, what would you like to do?
Me: No. We do not need to do anything. I am more than happy with a lazy night in.
And that’s why the “What do you want to do” question causes so much consternation. It’s the assumption the lady pointed out so eloquently. Asking that question in that way assumes that you want to do *SOMETHING* as opposed to nothing. And doing nothing can be a wonderful thing.
When two people go on their first few dates, they often don’t know each other well and may be trying to impress one another. One of the ways we try to impress people we’re dating is by showing them we are interesting people who can be more creative than the old standby drinks/coffee date. We tend to forget that a lot of those really unorthodox/creative dates are not terribly conducive to getting to know someone.
I wrote a while back about how I need to stop taking dates to see the Tossers play their monthly free acoustic show at the Abbey Pub because inevitably it will be the last date. I think, upon a bit of reflection, that the reason it was always the last date is because we didn’t know each other well enough to get beyond a date where it’s hard to talk or concentrate on anything beyond the music and your drink.
Think about it: When you start dating someone, each date needs to be a progression from the last. You learn a little something more about the person. You develop a little more trust in that person and they develop a little more trust in you. The conversation evolves from small talk into real talk.
BUT! When you’re at a live music event – even an acoustic one – it’s difficult to converse or do anything besides listen and occasionally order another drink. You sure as hell aren’t going to learn much about your date. How can you? You can’t even hear each other across a table.
And I think that’s why every date I took to see the Tossers was the last date with that person. Without conversation, the date didn’t progress from the last bringing the relationship (such as it was) to a dead stop. It’s not that the date was such a bad idea. It’s that in order to make a date like that work, you have to be at a point with someone that you don’t need conversation to move the relationship forward.
That’s what makes the “doing nothing” date perfect for folks who are just getting to know each other. That’s what makes the coffee/drink/takeout-on-the-couch dates so brilliant. Without the thing-we-are-supposed-to-be-doing hanging over your head, you’re free to talk, laugh and get to know each other.
So embrace the idea of doing nothing as a date. You never know. Something good might come of it.