Best Places For a First Date (Backed by Science)

You have to build attraction on the first date.

If you do that well, then a second date will follow.

So what makes for a great date?

Masculine personality traits, (learned) charisma, sharp wit and charm all aside…

The place you choose to go to is hugely important.

The Rollercoaster Ride Experiment

Why are rollercoasters a great place for a date?

Here’s Dr. David Lewis, author of Impulse to give you some insight:

“I first studied the potent relationship between roller-coasters and sexual arousal some 30 years ago. In my research I equipped couples with heart-rate monitors as they were about to board a ride and divided them into two groups.

Couples in the first group sat side by side while those in the second were separated and placed next to strangers. The results were surprising.

Those seated beside their partner not only experienced higher hearts rates throughout the ride, but also reported heightened physical attraction to one another.

They were far more physically demonstrative on leaving the ride, holding hands, cuddling and embracing.

The couples who had been separated experienced slightly lower heart rates and were less physically attracted and close after the ride.

The greater the thrill experienced in the presence of one’s partner the greater the impact on emotional and sexual excitement.”

That’s pretty awesome – you now know a secret about building emotional and sexual excitement.

So what underpins this excitement?

Here’s David:

“The key lies in the surge of the powerful ‘fight-or-flight’ hormone adrenalin which is triggered by the speed, the turns and above all the sudden increase in G-force to which people are subjected on a modern roller-coaster. The more thrilling and nerve-tingling the ride, the grater the adrenalin release and the bigger the sexual buzz.”


The Shaky Bridge Experiment

Adrenalin and sexual arousal… hmmm.

What’s the commonality here?

Allow me to present another study that fully explains this nuance.

There were two bridges.

One of the bridges is the Capilano Canyon Suspension bridge which is made of wooden boards that are merely attached to wire cables.

It sways in the wind, wobbles when you walk across it, and is 70 metres above the river.

This is the scary bridge.

Not too far away from this bridge is another, safer walkway; this one is more sturdy and isn’t suspended as high as the Capilano bridge.

In a famous experiment by researchers Dutton and Aron (1974), male participants were asked to walk across both the scary bridge and the safer bridge.

In both instances, a very attractive female “experimenter” awaited the men in the centre of the walkways to reward their valiant and brave effort with a… meagre survey.

The female “experimenter” would give the men her phone number to call her if “they had any further questions.”

The men who crossed the scary bridge were more likely to call the lady.


Crossing the bridge no doubt elevated their heart beat, stressed them out, and flooded their bodies with adrenaline.

These fundamental changes in physiology, this arousal, was obviously caused by the scary, shaky bridge.

But these guys misattributed their arousal from the bridge for arousal (i.e. attraction) for the woman.

In other words, it’s as if they psychologically chalked up all this emotion to being caused by the woman.

The Best Place to Go Out on a Date

Here’s behavioural economist Dan Ariely:

“With noise and people all around them, daters are likely to feel a much higher level of arousal, and, most important, they may misattribute this emotional state to the person they’re with. (Social scientists call this “misattribution of emotions.”).

To the extent that people confuse the emotions created by the environment with the emotions created by the person sitting next to them, going out to loud, busy places could be a winning strategy.

Just imagine leaving a bar after two hours where, during the entire time, the person with you was certain that the strong emotional feeling that he/she experienced was all stemming from you.”

-Dan Ariely, Behavioural Economics Saved My Dog

Not only can noisy places mask awkward silences but these silences can easily be chalked down to being in the now, soaking in the vibe, enjoying the music that is blaring out from the stereo.

Or giving your voice a rest from talking over the music.

Also, you can get physically closer and engage in kino escalation.

It gives plausible deniability for you to talk directly into your date’s ear.

The best thing about loud, stimulating, exciting environments however has to do with arousal and misattributing it to your partner.

The Rickshaw Ride

It’s not as fine and dandy as that though.

It’s not as clear cut as one would like.

And here’s a story to show you how one dude tried to use this insight to his advantage but failed miserably.

Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and chief scientific adviser to the dating site, tells the story of a guy suffering from unrequited love and his feeble attempt at trying to win her over using the power of science.

Having read some of Fisher’s work, the guy thought to himself that if he exposed this girl to a novel situation, he’d be able to drive up the dopamine levels in her brain and perhaps trigger brain system responsible for romantic love.

So he decided to take the girl out for a rickshaw ride together.

A rickshaw ride can be quite exhilarating, especially in London. The rider can manuovre in between the buses and cars and trucks; it’s noisy and it’s crazy.

It’s incredibly stimulating.

The chick screams and shouts and squeezes the guy and once the ride is over she squeals out laughing “what a rush, and wasn’t that rickshaw driver handsome!”

Closing thoughts

It’s still worth keeping a list of emotionally-arousing scenarios for potential future dates.

Like I mentioned earlier, going to a noisy place or going on a rickshaw ride all provide opportunities for easy kino (i.e. lingo for ‘kinestetic’, or touch).

Another example can include watching horror movies together where there is an opportunity for comfort via a hug or a squeeze (unless you don’t handle horrors too well.)

Here’s David:

“In 1989 scientists [Cohen, Waugh, and Place (1989)] conducted a somewhat similar piece of research, this time in a cinema. They studied sexual attraction and arousal among couples who had just seen one of two types of film. One was nail-biting, highly arousing suspense movie, the other a far less arousing film. The researchers found that the couples who had viewed the suspense film were far more likely to be touching, holding, embracing and kissing one another than those leaving the less exciting movie.”

Or watching boxing or UFC together – that surely will get your blood pumping!

Fundamentally though, it’s all about arousal being mistakenly attributed to you and being interpreted as attraction to the other person.

Or as Dr. David Lewis puts it “arousal from the roller-coaster ride, the flimsy bridge, or the scary film – is mistaken for sexual excitement provoked by another person.

P.S. Thanks for reading. If you liked this, feel free to sign up to my free weekly newsletter for more psychological insights into everyday life.



Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s