Trees are blooming, bees are buzzing and some many more colors are sprouting from the ground, which means that spring, the traditional season of romance, is in the air.
Romance, however, has changed radically in the last 20 years and navigating the dating waters for many is as challenging as ever.
“No question,” said relationship adviser and marriage counselor Anthony Brune when asked if the advent of social media has changed dating habits. “There is a lot more pressure now to do the rare, uncommon or jaw-dropping thing. The more likes you get online, the more likely you are to get a second date.”
In other words, he added, the dinner-and-a-movie first date, does not cut it anymore.
For his first date, Michael Emerson, 31, recalls taking his date to see “The Fellowship Of The Ring”.
“Huge mistake,” he laughed. “Never take a first date to a three-hour movie starring hobbits and elves. There was no second date.”
What Emerson experienced is not uncommon. According to Brune, movies are something to watch with a group of friends, your spouse or, simply, by yourself.
“Typically the best part of any date involving a movie is before the film and after,” he said. “That is when you actually get to interact with your date. The only time I would recommend a two-hour hiatus from conversation is if you really have nothing to talk about, in which case you probably just want the date to be over with anyway.”
Due to the changing nature of dating - according to Pew Research Center use of online dating sites or mobile apps by young adults has tripled since 2013 - the need to make that first date memorable is that much more significant.
“Most of the couples I counsel between 40 and 65, met as singles did in the 70s and 80s, through friends and acquaintances,” Brune said. “When a family member or friend is introducing you to someone for a date, there isn’t as much pressure because they are as liable for the date going well as you are.”
With online dating, however, the pressure is palpable.
“You’re now responsible for making this a remarkable evening,” he said. “Because, if you don’t, there are hundreds of people waiting to receive a swipe right.”
So how does the modern single in 2019 plan a magical first date that will lead to that elusive second date?
“Make it a joint effort,” Brune said. “It’s an evening out for the two of you, so neither one should be left to do all the planning.”
He added that originality is great, as long as it does not get overwhelming.
“A lot of people tend to focus on the ‘wow’ factor,” he said. “Wowing your date can be great, but it can also go too far. Going on a road trip, sailing on a cruise, taking a train ride, these are all great things to do when you may be with the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, but on a first date I suggest never spending more than 8-10 hours with that person.”
He added that nightclubs, concerts and other loud venues are great for group dates, but not for one-on-one time.
Even common-place Colorado activities like hiking, skiing and biking can sound wonderful, but Brune said, “if you’re not that great at skiing or your date is not in the best shape for hiking, somebody is going to be miserable.”
Furthermore, the modern dating scene is rife with nuanced diversions that can be excellent for first dates, without over-planning or breaking the bank.
“A couple that have stood out to me lately are escape rooms, arts and crafts with drink, and scavenger hunts,” he said. “They are relatively inexpensive and allow both of you to spend quality time together in a fun atmosphere.”