When you first start dating in recovery, the thought of planning an exciting date can be nerve-racking. Use these unique first date ideas to ensure both you and your date have an excellent time.
Have you recently re-entered the dating scene after getting some recovery time under your belt? Dating in recovery is challenging, but maybe you have read up on how to make it easier and what pitfalls to avoid, and now you feel confident that the time is right.
That doesn’t necessarily ease the anxiety we all experience when it comes to a first date. What do you do when you are dating in recovery and meeting up for drinks is obviously out of the question?
Of course, there is the ever popular sober first date – meeting up for coffee – but that can get boring and awkward quickly – especially when the conversation stalls and you each end up staring into your empty coffee mug. You want to do something more unique on your first date with a new potential partner, but coming up with an interesting date just adds to the anxiety of dating in recovery.
Luckily, there are many great things you can do on a first date that do not involve getting inebriated, are actually fun, and can help you get to know each other better – which is what a first date is all about, right?
15 Unique First Date Ideas
1. Have a breakfast date
Most of us love eating, hence the ever popular dinner date, so why not switch it up? Make it even more interesting by having an early breakfast date, as early as you can both reasonably agree on. Try to be the first ones at a restaurant. You will get the freshest meal of the day, plus get to people watch as regulars slowly trickle in for their morning coffee.
2. Go to a used bookstore
Even if you or your date are not keen on reading, used book stores are full of interesting artefacts. Make a game where you each look for books published in a certain year or with a certain word in the title. It gives you time to split up then run back into each other and compare findings along the way. Looking at old books together serves as a springboard for any number of brilliant conversations, and having a game gives you a topic to go back to if the conversation stalls.
3. Go for a walk
Seems too simple right? Not that unique? Going for a walk can lead to a spontaneous and open-ended first date. There are so many ways you can spice up your everyday walk. Plus when the conversation goes silent you have the scenery to fill the gaps. Stop for an unexpected sweet treat, or walk as far as you can in one direction and then take a taxi or bus back.
4. Become photographers
Spend the afternoon taking pictures together. Pick a theme and have a photo scavenger hunt (another great way to spice up your walk), or learn the basics of light and composition in an intro to photography class together if there is one offered near you.
5. Go for a bicycle ride
If you both have bicycles, go for a bike ride together. Exercise and recovery go hand-in-hand so any physical activity can be a great first date for someone dating in recovery. Plus, it cuts out the anxiety of what to wear! If you belong to a gym, why not invite your date to join you? Most gyms offer free passes for first time guests of members.
6. Have a picnic
Even better – combine with #5 and make the bike ride to a picnic destination! You can each bring some food to share, and you are on your way to a much more casual dinner date. Make it more romantic by having a picnic just before sunrise or sunset.
7. Go to an art gallery
Or a museum. Use what you see as conversation starters, and awkward silences will be less likely.
8. Become a tourist in your own town
Visit a tourist attraction neither of you have been to, or get on a hop-on, hop-off tour around your own city – you will be amazed at the amount of new information you will actually learn about the city you thought you knew!
9. Take a class together
Any class can be a great first date idea! Try a cooking, rock climbing or yoga class. Alternatively, you can take an online class together using Udemy. Find something you both have an interest in and give it a go!
10. Play word games
Get two copies of the same newspaper that has a crossword puzzle in it. Set a time limit and see who can complete more of the puzzle in the timeframe. Once time is up, going over the answers together can spark an interesting conversation – and it’s a cinch to set up a second date. The person who got the least correct has to buy coffee!
11. Play video games
Or go to an arcade. Dating in recovery doesn’t always have to be so serious. Embrace your inner child and have some fun!
Invite your date to volunteer with you. There are a myriad ways you can volunteer for half a day in your community – go to the pet shelter, serve food at a soup kitchen, or clean up a trail in the local park. Not only is it a great way to get to know each other and help out, but volunteering is great for your recovery too.
13. Make art
Go to a paint-your-own-pottery place, paint canvases at home with big brushes and bold colours, or reuse all those old magazines to make a collage or vision boards. Even take a class at your local craft store. The crafting possibilities are endless. Even if neither of you are creative types, trying something new together can be a fun.
14. Go thrifting
Maybe shopping together doesn’t sound like the most exciting first date idea, but going to a thrift store can be a non-serious and fun way to get to know each other and maybe even come home with a great score.
15. Do you both have dogs?
Meet at the dog park, or walk them together. Dogs are a great way to break into the conversation, as they are fun to be around, and amusing to watch.
If you are dating in recovery or dating a recovering addict, it is not just the first date that won’t involve drinking – it is going to be all of them! To keep things interesting and to make conversation flow easier, incorporate a shared interest, add an element of competition, or create new variations on old date ideas – such as waking up at the crack of dawn to watch the sunrise in the park.
The Rewards of Dating in Recovery
Alcoholism and drug abuse seriously impact your ability to have meaningful, healthy relationships. Dating in recovery can be incredibly rewarding, but remember that your addiction recovery must always remain your number one priority.
If you attended an alcohol or drug rehab, you have likely heard that dating should wait for at least a year after treatment, but when you do get there – dating in recovery is definitely worth the wait! Your connection and conversation will be more genuine, caring and from a place of greater emotional health, leaving both you and your date feeling fantastic – whether or not a romantic relationship is sparked.
However, a unique first date void of substances can be anxiety provoking at first – especially if you have not dated anyone since you were using. But you will most likely find yourself having more fun dating in recovery than you ever had before. Without alcohol or drugs fogging your brain, you can actually have meaningful conversations, truly get to know someone – and remember everything!