I’m no expert, but I’ve been on my fair share of first dates. Here in New York City, it follows a familiar pattern: Match on an app, message back and forth until you find a time and a place that isn’t too inconvenient for either party—usually after work, usually drinks—and then meet up to see if there’s a spark. Ideally, conversation flows through the night, breezing through childhood stories and diving into future dreams, maybe. All of a sudden it’s midnight and you could keep talking until 2 a.m. Work will be very hard the next day.
But my best nights end with me in bed by 9 p.m. Maybe there’s a facemask involved. By the end of the day, I’m typically frazzled and tired (perhaps a little bit cranky). Making a good first impression can be a challenge when your best self peaks at 11 a.m. I’m what you’d call “a morning person,” and though I’m 26, I have the soul of an 85-year-old who rises with the birds. Which is why I love breakfast dates.
Looking for love at 8 a.m. is actually quite similar to the traditional song and dance, but instead of pricey cocktails, you sip coffee or tea. There are also pastries involved, sometimes bacon and eggs, which don’t leave you bloated like alcohol-induced, late-night slices.
You talk about the same sorts of things: likes, dislikes, hobbies, goals, but to a soundtrack of light jazz or contemporary pop that you can actually hear over. Because it’s morning, I’m 100% present in the conversation. I don’t feel overwhelmed by a long day at work. I’m not yawning or checking what time my route will get me home.
You know that challenge of knowing when to end the date? Well, jobs are good for more than just a paycheck. Even if everything is going well, having a definite end time to leave for work makes the prospect of a second date all the more intriguing—or, if the date is a disaster, you have the perfect excuse to leave.
But what I love most about breakfast dates is that they represent how far I’ve come in advocating for myself. When I first started dating, I’d say yes to almost anything—bars, booze, boys. I thought it was rude to demand something from someone I didn’t know, or refuse to go with the flow. I was a passenger; their needs were more important than my own.
In fact, my very first breakfast date was because a guy suggested it. He worked in finance, which meant late, late hours, and asked to meet at a yogurt bar just as it opened. The guy was fine, but the experience itself felt so much more enjoyable and empowering than my typical nighttime meetups. It was a comforting environment for a very uncomfortable situation (let’s face it, first dates suck). It was something I had never thought of before, paired with a meal I already loved. It marked the beginning of identifying what I wanted from a date, not the other party.
I remember another date when we met at a Chinese bakery off of Canal Street. We grabbed a bag of sweet and savory steamed buns and two extra-large coffees and began a slow stroll up Broadway. We discussed our favorite parts of the city as sweaty runners zoomed by, then pulled off into a small neighborhood park to eat and talk about family, friends, and the times we struggled at work. Our only other companions were sleepy dog walkers and college students struggling under the weight of overfilled book bags. By the time we parted ways just outside my office, I was full of buns, coffee, and sunshine. I felt invincible.
It’s taken me a long time to learn to listen to myself and what I’m looking for, what I need. And, to be honest, the majority of my dates don’t happen over breakfast. But the best ones do. This freedom in my dating schedule has meant that I’ve stopped worrying about imposing, or meeting someone at a bar when I’d much rather be in bed. Instead, I’ll get coffee, or a bagel, something casual. And when I do agree to a cocktail after work, I know that I’m saying yes because I really want to.
They say that loving yourself is the first step to romance. And sometimes, loving yourself means 8 a.m. bacon and eggs.
Are you a fan of breakfast dates? Share why or why not in the comments below!