dating: A lover's guide

Andrea Lee christensen

The Hot Dog Place Beneath Your Apartment

Good for: First dates. 

It's 10 PM on a Tuesday night in January and your friends are all at your apartment after yoga. One of the girls is like, “You know what would be funny? If we downloaded Tinder – right now.” So you match with someone right away (duh) and they're like, “Hey, let's meet up – right now.” You have a date, congrats!! Now what? It's cold outside and also, you don’t want to look like you care too much. I understand completely. The best place to go for your first date is: The Hot Dog Place Beneath Your Apartment. When you actually meet him you can decide if you should change locations to a sexy bar or stay and eat some tots because this encounter will clearly not lead to sex for either of you. Your choice: I'm not the boss around here. 

Final word: 5/5 stars. Good place to suss out your Tinder date. Bonus points if you don't shower after yoga to show you're a Cool Girl who has 10 boys on speed dial. 

 

MUJI

Good for: Casually making fun of things together. 
Setting:  Cool and useless Japanese furniture store. Players: you and your one-night stand. 

So it’s come to the end of the second date (this is what I call the morning after) – you like talking to this person and you've already gotten coffee; now what?? Quick, before he can leave for the subway, distract him by pointing out Muji. Guys, if they're cool, love Muji. You can take them out for a test drive here. If they're like, "No, I have to go uptown, bye": ditch that loser! If they're like "Ooh yes, I want to decorate my apartment with Muji," or "Okay, I need some pens," then they're a winner! Together you can bond while marveling at compact plastic containers and making funny jokes like, "A humidifier? What am I, 81?" (That was a freebie. You're welcome.)

Final word: 4/5 stars. Functional furniture store is also functional casual date stop.  

BLACK SEED BAGELS

Good for: Nothing. 

You may think Black Seed Bagels is cute, but it isn't. Don't worry, I don't blame you—I too made the mistake of thinking it might be a good spot for a quick breakfast when you're trying to turn your sex friend into a more of a dating friend. But I was quickly proven wrong – no, slowly proven wrong – in the never-ending line where we ran out of things to say to each other. When you realize the classic bacon egg and cheese bagel costs $12, your sex friend loudly expresses his shock at the price. You hereafter develop a complex around picking the wrong date spot until the end of time. 

Final word: 1/5 stars: 1 for good latte art, -4 for embarrassingly priced bagels that are also tiny. 

 

REGAL UNION SQUARE STADIUM 14

Good for: Some on & off screen action! 

Ahh, the good ol’ movies – they never let you down. Whether you’re glued to the screen or glued to each other, chances are you won’t miss out on any action with this classic date spot. You can keep the excitement going on this first date when you realize as the movie’s ending that you are breaking out in hives! Whether it’s the movie theater’s fault or your new mattress’s is unclear, but now you get to see what this bozo you’re on a date with is really made of. Will he take you to the Health Center? What does he do when the Health Center is closed? Will he ever want to see you again? Or is he grossed out by your shitty body? A mystery for the ages and fun for the whole family! 

Final word: 5/5 stars. Even if the movie is terrible, you and your date will have an action-packed adventure as you investigate whether or not to call an ambulance!

 GOTHAM BAR AND GRILL

Good for: Well, I guess it depends who you are. 

In every relationship, there might come a time when you don’t want to further the relationship but the guy just won’t leave your college dorm room until you say yes to one last extravagant date with him so he can woo you properly. The extravagant date will turn out to be one extravagantly priced restaurant called Gotham Bar and Grill. The food and drink there is good – I think? To be honest, I don't remember it other than my date remarking that the duck pâté I ordered was "masculine" and the low-key thrill of them not carding us despite being soft college freshmen. Whatever, everyone knows food isn't the point of a $350+ meal – it was that spark of, ah, something that flows between you and your date. By the end of the night, you might even consider changing your mind about him! But you won’t.

Final word: 4/5 stars. 4 stars for a nice romantic dinner, -1 star for it being so romantic that on the walk home he tries to propose to you, you have say no and awkwardly give the ring back, never speak to him again, and spend the rest of the year avoiding eye contact in dining halls.  

 

MINNESOTA

Good for: Getting weird! 

Sometimes a person will insist that he doesn’t want to be “in a relationship” with “you,” because you two are having a great time “hanging out,” and he just wants to be “single.” I have been there, friend. Fear not! This just means it’s time to get weird, and take things to the next level – in this case, that means getting him to pretend to be your boyfriend (though you only met three weeks ago) on a trip to Minnesota that you were already planning on taking because your ex-stepfather wanted you to meet his new fiancée! Hypothetically. Think of it as a cool undercover date – by the end of it, he will realize that he can’t live without you but maybe also get spooked by his own feelings for a few weeks and act strangely. He’ll come out of it eventually! 

Final word: 4/5 stars. You will both feel weird about the situation and the twin air mattress, but fall in love in the end. -1 star because it’s not actually in New York.