How to navigate a date

While a night at the movies worked well when you were in high school and all you wanted to do was get away from the watchful eyes of your parents to partake in some hand holding and a bit of making out in the first or last row of your local cinema, these days people expect a little more conversation, a little less action on their first dates (well … most of the time!).

In the early days of getting to know someone (keeping in mind that it’s JUST. A. DATE.) ditch the movies in favour of somewhere where you can talk or even take part in a shared experience—ideally one which doesn’t end with one of you holding back the other’s hair because they had too much to drink!

It’s a good idea to, when organising the date, hint or even come right out and say that you can only be out until a certain time, so you have a previously explained way out if things aren’t going well, but also give yourself the option to progress on to something more or somewhere else if you’re hitting if off.

Sadly, so many of us have learnt the hard way that you shouldn’t go to dinner on a first date because despite any contact you may have had online/phone, you don’t actually know the person so it has the potential to go so wrong.

My favourite bad first date involved a near head-on collision on the way to dinner and then, when we got to the restaurant, I was bitten by fleas (admittedly, the fleas weren’t his fault).

His pre-entree moves included showing me an x-ray of someone with a tow-ball stuck up their butt. Now, as fascinated as I am by people who stick weird things up their butts, it’s not really what I expect to discuss on a first date (think more along the lines of family, travel, things you like to do).

And then, as if the fleas, bad driving and weird conversation weren’t enough, he assumed—making an ass out of just himself—that I’d invite him up to my apartment when he dropped me home.

He didn’t anticipate that I could say thank you, jump out of the car and be safely inside my apartment looking for calamine lotion in less time that he could switch off the ignition and undo his seat belt.

So, unless you’d like a similarly awkward experience, stick with something casual for the first date.

A coffee or a drink works well because conversation doesn’t always come easy it can help to be somewhere where you can use your surroundings as a talking point.

But whatever the plan, always stick with public places. And guys, don’t be surprised if your date wants to send a text to a mate halfway through the date to let them know she’s okay.

Here are some of my favourite ideas for when the time comes to venture into slightly more official, longer dates (they are Brisbane-focused but I’m sure there’s similar places in other cities across Australia):

1. Cork & Chroma. Grab your date and bottle or two and head down for a paint and sip session. At the end you’ll have had a laugh, a bit of a sing to their awesome soundtracks and a piece of artwork each to either enjoy or have a giggle at.Cork & Chroma

2. Picnic. Grab the weekend papers, some snacks and head to either New Farm Park, South Bank or the City Botanic Gardens to enjoy the summer sunshine.

3. Riverlife. Kayaking, abseiling or stand up paddle boarding at Riverlife are all great date ideas for those who like to be active. If you’re not feeling overly sporty, go for the Segway.

4. People watching. The Eagle Street Pier precinct is always great for relaxed dates with the possibility to roll on to something else. Check out Riverbar, Blackbird or Mr & Mrs G’s for people-watching, cool cocktails and delicious share plates.

5. Ben & Jerry’s Open Air Cinema. They’ve set up at South Bank’s Rainforest Green for a limited season until Sunday 9 November. There’s even FREE ice cream and live music every Sunday for the Ben & Jerry’s Sundae Sessions.Relaxing at Openair

6. Dessert. Thinks sweets for a sweet (but don’t use that line, it’s as cheesy as ‘Brie Mine’) and you can share a dessert or two. Check out Cowch at South Bank, Freestyle Tout at Emporium or Chester Street Bakery in Fortitude Valley.

7. Cooking class.  You’ll get to learn something new, eat some great food and relax while doing something you can talk about later. Or you’ll see how they handle the heat in the kitchen!

8. City Cycles. Brisbane City Council’s bright yellow bikes are free to use if you get them back into another drop off point within 30 minutes.

9. Zoo. If you’ve got an animal lover, why not visit one of the zoo’s on the Sunshine Coast.

10. Theme park. There’s nothing like throwing someone on the Giant Drop or having them soaked on the Log Ride at Seaworld to see how they handle things.

Whether you’re a guy or a girl doing the asking, have an idea or two up your sleeve before you pop the not-so-big question. That’s not to say you need a rigid plan, some of the best dates are ones that just evolve as you go along.

And fellas—whatever you do, don’t try to do a surprise location on a girl, especially in the early days. If she’s keen on you, she’ll be keen to impress and not having an idea where you’re going (or at least a dress code) could stress her out and if we learnt anything from Laurina on The Bachelor, it’s that women get really annoyed—and embarrassed—if they feel over or under dressed!


I’ve got a double pass to Brisbane’s Cork & Chroma and a double pass to Ben & Jerry’s Openair Cinemas at South Bank. 

To be in the running to win one of the double passes, comment below and tell me your favourite or ideal date ideas around town. 

Winners will be announced in my next eHarmony blog post which will be published next Monday (27 October).

This post was brought to your by eHarmony Australia. Please support the brands that support this blog.


  1. Lucy

    I love the Moonlight Cinema because it is picnic and a movie rolled into one in with some star gazing thrown in. However, brunch and a stroll through some of Brisbane’s amazing markets is also up there. Good food and conversation will always spark romance.


  2. Catherine Stone

    I love Garuva Hidden Tranquility Restaurant in the Vally, be it an intimate meal in your own private booth sitting on cushioned rugs on the floor with low tables and very dim lighting or cocktails in their very casual and sensual cocktail bar filled with large cushions and lava lamps its always a lovely night :).


  3. Morgan Cranch

    I love the city at night when it is all lir-up, so if I am feeling romantic a dinner at Southbank & then a wander along the river is nice. Otherwise, if you buy me brunch I am yours for life. Which I think is what my partner worked out, because he used to make me pancakes every Sunday when we started dating.


  4. Rachel_OurTownBrisbane

    I love Watt Modern Dining at the Brisbane Powerhouse. You can sit at one of their outdoor tables (weather permitting) and have a drink while taking in the gorgeous river view. AND if thing are going well you can progress to an impromptu dinner!


  5. Laura

    Favourite thing to do… Drinks at Blackbird looking out over the river, stroll through the botanical gardens over to southbank, dinner overlooking the river then a stroll back along the river looking at how beautiful Brisbane is at night.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s