Free dates: 20 ideas you might actually consider
Broke again? Or just sick of shelling out eye-watering sums at distincly average restaurants in pursuit of love. Successful dating needs imagination and what better way to demonstrate it than coming up with dates that cost nothing? To get you started here’s eharmony’s best ideas for free dating
1. Head for the hills. Or woods
So ‘going for a walk’ may be basic for a hot date. But conversation often flows a lot more freely when side-by-side rather than staring at each other across a dinner table and scenic views provide enough talking points to keep you going. Bonus points for the health benefit.
2. Borrow a dog
If you don’t already own a dog, of course. Good dates often benefit from a MacGuffin, a focus of attention away from the personal, and a wagging tail can be ideal. If you don’t have a friend’s canine to appropriate, try the excellent borrowmydoggy.com.
3. Games night
Board games for (sort-of) grown-ups have been one of the last decade’s cultural phenomena and, as any web search will demonstrate, the options are near limitless, from deep strategy to simple, slapstick fun. Or just convince your date you’ll make them rich be delivering a sound thrashing at Monopoly.
4. Urban safari by bicycle
City dwellers might know their own locality well and likewise the centre of town, but how many of us truly explore the urban environments where most of the population reside? Pick out four or five neighbourhoods you only know from passing through by car and explore them properly on two wheels.
5. Blue plaque tour
The famous plaques commemorating where history’s great achievers once laid their heads to sleep are mostly a London thing, administered by English Heritage, but many local authorities have similar schemes. A free date idea with added local expertise
6. Find a spectacular view
Grand vistas are inherently romantic. Take a picnic, work up an appetite on the climb and lounge contentedly enjoying the view.
7. Take in a lecture
Learning together can be a bonding experience, whether it’s your neighbourhood historical society, an author’s reading at a book launch or a free seminar at a university. What’s-on guides in the local press are a treasure trove.
Falling over repeatedly is never not funny, right? As an icebreaker, few things work quite as well as mutual humiliation. Avoid areas with lots of children or pensioners as no-one wants a free date that ends in lawsuits.
9. Go for a run
Exercise is a turn-on, and who hasn’t had a crush at their local gym? Shared effort is a bonding experience, although best avoided if your date smokes 40 a day.
10. Get lost in history
The UK is inundated with beautiful old churches, historic buildings fallen into disuse and sites of ancient battles. Check in with your local historical and archaeological societies.
Does your prospective partner have an attractively philanthropic side? Is he or she the type who would willingly give up their time to help others? A few hours at your local homeless charity or animal refuge can tell a lot about their personality.
12. Ping pong
Even the decidedly unsporty can usually make a decent if inept fist of table-tennis and free, outdoor public tables are an increasingly common sight in parks.
13. Vist a farmers’ market
Not for the 20 quid lump of artisanal gouda which will rot slowly at the back of your fridge, but for the profusion of free samples. Don’t on any account feel guilty.
14. Local wildlife safari
Are their bats in your local belfry? Or badgers in the brambles? Organised wildlife tours are common in many cities; if you live in the countryside it may be simple to come up with your own.
15. Museums and galleries
Unlike almost any other country on earth, a majority of the UK’s bigger museums and galleries are free to enter, so do take advantage. And quickly find out if your date is an utter philistine.
16. Cook something new
A potentially long-term relationship with someone who can’t whip up an edible meal from your fridge’s meagre contents is a grim prospect, so find out early. Try something challenging, where success or failure is at least shared.
17. Home movie night
Plonking down in front of Netflix requires little imagination but go the full hog: homemade popcorn, dim lighting, cocktails from the dregs of the drinks cupboard – hey presto, romance.
18. Go wild swimming
Strictly one for the summer months and on the challenging end of the spectrum for a first or second date, but a swim as nature intended can be thoroughly invigorating. And there are a surprising number of places where it’s possible, as the wonderful interactive map on wildswim.com demonstrates.
19. Learn a new skill
Nothing is sexier than a partner who can unblock a toilet, right? And while knowing how to crochet a sock might not have the same appeal, there’s a whole world of craft and trademanship to be learned free of charge via YouTube, so get cracking together.
20. Watch your local (rubbish) sports team
While the ghastly pricing policies of many Premier League clubs have alienated a generation of potential fans, there remain the comparatively simple pleasures of watching a team of local heroes many, many rungs down the league ladder. Watching non-professional sport is usually cheap; watching your local pub team is free and often more entertaining than might be imagined.
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