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I often get asked for "good date ideas" and "places to take a date". Sometimes it isn't easy to think of interesting things to do. It can be hard to appeal to the likes of potential partners, especially when you don't know them well.
In response to these requests, I invariably offer the date suggestion of going for coffee. Now, I realize this suggestion might seem a little cliché. But, bear with me. There is a method to my madness - as coffee can be quite persuasive!
5 Reasons for Choosing a Coffee Date
1) Safe and Convenient - An Easy Choice
Coffee shops are everywhere! They are public, easy to get to, and non-threatening. Besides, almost everyone loves coffee (or tea, hot chocolate, etc.). This makes the coffee date an easy sell to most people. So, you're likely to get a yes to coffee if you ask. (For help asking, look here, here, here, and here).
With a little planning, coffee shops can also be chosen close to other "optional" dating activities - movies, dancing, your place, etc. So, if the date is going poorly, it can end with just the quick cup of coffee. But, if it is going well, you can suggest moving on to the next activity and keep the date rolling.
2) Economical and Low Pressure - You Get Credit
Many daters go overboard on the date in terms of expense. This puts a lot of pressure on both the person paying and receiving. Therefore, it is often better to get to know the other person in a situation without heavy expectations and obligations. Go for cheap, personal, and easy.
Also, from a persuasion standpoint, expensive activities early on actually make you LESS attractive to a partner. This is due to something called the "overjustification effect" (Lepper, Green, & Nisbett, 1973). Usually, when someone has a good time with you, they will be likely to attribute their feelings to you (and become attracted). However, when expensive and fancy things are involved, the person often pays attention to them and attributes his/her good feelings to the food, gifts, or activity - and not to you. Even if you're awesome, the lobster might get the credit. Coffee, in contrast, is subtle and doesn't take the focus off of you. (For a related point, see here).
3) Persuasive - Time to Talk
Caffeine actually makes people more alert and attentive. Because they are paying attention, they are also more easily persuaded - with a good argument (Martin, Laing, Martin, & Mitchell, 2005). So, their caffeine boost in a coffee shop can help you really shine, as opposed to getting ignored in a distracting bar or club with alcohol. (For help with good conversation, see here and here).
Furthermore, the undivided attention allows you both to talk, get to know each other, and build some rapport and intimacy (see here). You can take your time to screen, qualify, and assess whether they are right for you too (to learn how, see here). The caffeine will give them the energy to chat, divulge, and answer your questions.
4) Good Associations - Positive Feelings with You
Coffee (and food in general) often has positive feelings and experiences associated with it. We have all shared coffee and perhaps a muffin with loved ones, in treasured places, on vacations, etc. Some of those good feelings are brought back when we settle down to a nice cup again.
These pleasant associations brought about by coffee can end up coloring how your date sees you too. This is known as "the Luncheon Effect" (Razran, 1938). People who share food or drinks tend to feel more closely bonded with one another. So, share a cup of coffee and benefit from the associated good feelings. (To further associate good feelings with you, look here).
5) Arousing - Coffee Makes You Attractive
Finally, the caffeine in coffee, tea, and cocoa is a stimulant. As such, it gets the heart pumping, the blood racing, and the body energized. These are all of the same feelings one experiences when flushed and excited with love. In fact, sometimes people can't tell the difference. This is known as "misattribution of arousal". Individuals excited by stimulants or even fear, come to mistake that "excitement" for "attraction" to someone present at the time (Dutton & Aron, 1974). So, when the coffee makes your date's heart beat faster - he/she might just think it's because of you instead!
(Good body language and personality can help this process too, see here and here for more)
Why wouldn't you choose coffee for a date? Everyone likes it. It is low pressure. It helps with persuasion. It can even make others' feel more bonded and attracted to you. So, go find someone cute and ask them out for a cup!
One final note though to the particularly "anxious" daters. Caffeine might make your nerves feel even more intense with the added energy boost. So, order a decaf yourself and stay calm for the chat (for more on staying calm, look here and here).
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Until next time...happy dating and relating!
Dr. Jeremy Nicholson
The Attraction Doctor
Previous Articles from The Attraction Doctor
- Dutton, D. G. and Aron, A. P. (1974). Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, pp. 510-517.
- Lepper, M. R., Greene, D., Nisbett, R. E. (1973). Undermining children's intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the 'overjustification' hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 28 (1): 129-137.
- Martin, P.Y., Laing, J., Martin, R., & Mitchell, M. (2005). Caffeine, cognition and persuasion: Evidence for caffeine increasing the systematic processing of persuasive messages. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35, 160-182.
- Razran, G.H.S. (1938). Conditioning Away Social Bias by the Luncheon Technique, Psychological. Bulletin, 35, 693.
© 2011 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.