Thursday, September 30, 2010

Advice: Dating when you live in the boonies.

You've got questions, Tajah's got answers! Today, how on earth do you plan creative and fun dates that won't break the bank when you live outside the big city?

Pretty Gamer: What are some cheap but fun date ideas in the greater King/Pierce counties? - Anonymous

Being new to the area, I had to ask for clarification on the geographical area that encompasses "greater King/Pierce County". In short - it's a huge area, therefore making this question crazy vague. If you'd given me a specific city or more precise location, this answer would have been way easier and 1000% more boring (probably). Because after all - you have the internets and can look it up yourself, right? *g* Lucky for you, I am up to any and all challenges in the Realm of Advice for devoted Pretty Gamer readers!

First things first: how did you know that I've lived over half my life in small cities and towns? In fact I only recently moved back to "the big city", so trust me when I say I've felt the interminable pain of feeling like there weren't enough entertainment options that didn't require lots of money, travel, or intense planning. But when I think back to those days and compare them to being in the city, one idea stands out:

All the "stuff to do" we complained about not having were generally distractions or detractors to the goal of a good date: getting to know the person you're with.

Having money or extravagant activities to engage in doesn't make a great date. Creativity and a little planning are the keys to a memorable (and likely fun) time. Often there's simply too much focus on what you did or where you went rather than who you were with. So here are some ideas for dates and outings that can complement and enhance interactions between you and your date, *and* help facilitate conversation (fewer awkward silences ftw):

  1. Be a tourist in your own town. No matter how small or boring you think your town is, I *promise* there's something you've overlooked. Even if you were born there and have never lived anywhere else, there is something that you haven't seen or experienced recently. I lived in Bellingham, WA for years and didn't discover many hidden gems until a new friend from Wisconsin came to check out WWU for a summer quarter. Start here: All the cheesy (and not-so-cheesy) tourist stuff. It's a goldmine for lawls.
  2. Get hyperlocal. Consult newsletters and bulletin boards for art walks, open mic nights, classes or student/amateur shows. Check out traditional festivals and seasonal celebrations. Be in the know, keep an open mind, and start exploring. Start here: Your good, old-fashioned local library! Ask the librarian about community events and programming.
  3. Embrace the ordinary. Flip the script! There are lots of things you aren't likely to find in the big city. You know, like corn mazes and hay rides. Don't underestimate the potential of simply exploring an area of town you haven't before. Making everyday things fun and interesting is up to you - but I know you can do it! Start here: Museums, art galleries, thrift shops, antique stores, and it sounds crazy but - yard, garage, & estate sales.

Lastly, don't forget the basics: What do you like to do? Think about your ideal date then try to incorporate specific elements. A trip to the local games or comic book store can work if there's an event or open area where you can play games. Is your idea a bust? Things going terribly wrong? Don't be afraid to cop to the fail, apologize, and ask for suggestions. Showing that you're not perfect and are willing to work together to salvage a situation could land you a second date.

Good Luck!


  1. Fantastic list of ideas!!

    I especially love the recommendation to go to yard/garage/estate sales. It has the benefit of exploring areas you might not have spent time in before, getting to know your date better via lots of conversation, and possibly walking away with not only fun stories of what you saw but perhaps some kind of hilarious doodad you got for a dollar as a reminder of the great time you had!

    In fact, that's probably a great way to end the date. If you buy them something cheap and funny from a garage sale, they are definitely going to be remembering to call you. ;)

  2. Thanks! My mom used to say "Only boring people are bored" when we would complain of boredom. And as I've grown older, I realize just how right she is - there are numerous things to do if you just open your mind and get a little creative.