Students’ first date experiences and rituals

First dates are a great way to learn about the other person and yourself. Photo from

Dating can be an exciting, exhilarating and sometimes terrifying experience in your young-adult life. As you meet new people, go through the phases of getting to know someone and putting your trust and heart on the line for someone, you end up learning a lot about yourself and how you prefer to be loved.

But first dates, in particular, can be crucial in establishing your relationship with the person, and whether or not you want to move forward with pursuing something more with them. This initial encounter can cause a range of emotions from nervousness to excitement to anxiety. 

Regardless of what your emotions are, your rituals in how you prepare for the date and what you and your date plan to do are crucial. 

At one time it would’ve been considered improper for a man to not pay for the first date. But a survey from Esquire magazine over a decade ago shows that 51% of women offer to pay on the first date. As younger generations dive into the world of dating, formalities have changed.

Students at Florida A&M University share their experiences and expectations for their first dates.

Ginaire Ridore is a sophomore psychology student, and although she has never been on a formal first date, she still has expectations for how she would like it to go.

“My dream date would have to be something fun like roller-skating around the park or going to an arcade,” Ridore said. “I think those are also good for someone like me who likes physical touch whether it be a hug or just holding hands. Then we would go to dinner at chili’s or if he’s thoughtful enough we’d go to a vegan restaurant. Lastly, we would walk around the park afterward with ice cream cones and just talk about life and anything serious we need to discuss.”

Ridore wants to keep her first date exciting and full of surprises. She feels those activities make for easy and light conversations despite believing her gaming and roller skating skills aren’t up to par. And although Ridore is a Gen Z’er, she still believes in all the beforehand rituals and being formally asked out.

“I would like to be asked out as casual as possible,” Ridore said. “I’m into cliche things but I feel like because I never experienced what I want, I would be very nervous and probably ruin it. I’m not sure if that old fashioned or not, but I think it’s sweet and gives me time to be giddy and process what I would want to say.”

Zion Lampley is a senior political science and criminal justice student who supports taking initiative and formally preparing for a first date.

“What I normally do to prepare for a date is take the initiative to make plans and effectively choose what the both of us may be interested in doing,” Lampley said. “Including bowling, skating, gun range, trampoline park, etc… As long as I’m asking her out, I make the plans.”

He believes that nervousness is a regular feeling to experience before a first date but being yourself and acting normally is what matters most.

With COVID-19 in the picture, it has changed how many approach dating.

“The dates I go on now are restaurant settings, after being affected by Covid, being in a crowded environment doesn’t sit right with me because so many COVID restrictions are being violated,” Lampley said. “… Simply ordering meals to go is enough for me.”

As Gen Z often gets labeled as breaking all traditions in social and political arenas, students like Ridore and Lampley prove that when it comes to dating, many are still up for a classic first date.