Thanks to a sea of broke yet cocky jerks and Chris Evans wannabes flooding Raya and Bumble, single Angelenos don’t have it easy in the dating department. It’s no secret that L.A. has long been considered one of the worst cities to find a partner. First dates rarely turn into more, and it’s something we’ve all kind of begrudgingly accepted.
That said, every now and then, you’ll end up with a decent person sitting across from you, but with some external factors playing into your potential romance gone wrong. Because L.A. is pure chaos around the clock, it’s important to consider what’s actually in your control before moving ahead with your meetup. There’s never any guaranteeing your next date will be a match. But even if there’s no spark, at least there are ways around how to make a first date in LA better. It starts with ensuring there are no external factors preventing you from success.
Keep reading for four ways to instantly elevate a first date in LA.
Plan to Uber—and Book It in Advance
It’s easy to write off the idea of ordering a rideshare option when you don’t plan to drink much (or at all) on your date. But unless the ride will be exorbitantly expensive (or you live just a few blocks down the road), Uber or Lyft is really the wisest option. Letting someone else take the wheel gives you a chance to decompress from your day, catch up on any last minute emails or texts before going silent and mentally prepare yourself for the person you’re about to meet. It also saves you the agony of finding non-permit parking (which has only worsened since the pandemic). Scheduling the ride in advance ensures someone will get to you in time (and it actually knocks a few bucks off your fee—try it!)
Our nerves are naturally running higher when we’re on the verge of an important meeting (whether it be a first date or otherwise), so it’s easy for our driving to become naturally impaired. Fun fact: I recently got pulled over completely sober on my way to a first date. I think I was just naturally flustered, and this played into my driving that night. I thankfully got out of the potential ticket, but that’s another story! Definitely going the rideshare route next time.
Arrive at Least 20 Minutes Early (Hear Me Out on This)
Ok, this isn’t a job interview. You’re not going to impress your date by being the eager beaver who zoomed over to the date quick as you can say margarita. That’s not where I’m going with this.
I’m a big proponent of the early arrival so that it gives you time to make a quick bathroom stop to check for lipstick on the teeth, pee one last time, fluff up your hair, etc. Check your phone one last time for important texts and emails, get yourself mentally prepared. And then, 5-10 minutes early, you can send the “I wasn’t sure how traffic would be, so I ended up here a little early” text. If they’re not there, you can already be relaxed and ready to go by the time they arrive.
Pick a Place With a Vibe…
How to make a first date in LA better starts with a vibey location. File under: duh—but not so fast! A place can be well-designed with incredible food and drinks, but lacks a vibe. Whereas, a place can be less upscale but has great music and a lively crowd to make the experience feel like home. Even if you opt for something incredibly simple like a quick coffee meet-up, why not make it cozy?
I recently went on a date at the restaurant of a hotel I’ve never been a fan of. The date and I live on opposite sides of town, so this meeting point made sense logistically (in fact, it was probably closer to me than him, so how could I complain?). The food, service and drinks were great. And heck, the company—although not a romantic match at all—was also great. But it was freezing with no heat lamps; there was literally no one at the restaurant or even inside at the bar; and this particular hotel has never been particularly much of a scene. The experience felt isolating and the energy of the location was depressing, honestly. Even though the guy and I didn’t have a fiery spark, we did indeed have an enjoyable time. And I kept thinking how much better this would have been if we’d gone somewhere different.
But Don’t Pick a Place With Too Much of a Vibe
On the flipside of picking somewhere that lacks any energy, a first date isn’t the place for too much of it. Shouting “huh?” and “what did you say?” across the table all night isn’t exactly the best way to build a connection. L.A. obviously has a lot of places that impress, but not all of them are conducive to solid conversation if you’re trying to do more than just drink with someone.
I personally think LA rooftops are the way to go. Being outdoors is not only accommodating for COVID concerns, but also, even when rooftops are bustling with guests, the noise level isn’t constrained to an indoor room. Additionally, L.A. has some incredible rooftops (Harriet’s, The Edition, Élephante, E.P. & L.P., Sant’olina, to name a few) that provide not only just the right vibe, but also plenty opportunity to sit close and get acquainted!
For more on dating experiences, let’s take it back to quarantine and relive my very first FaceTime date HERE!