Why a date at the beach worked a treat

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In our Dating Diaries, real people talk about real dates … what went right, what went wrong, what they learnt from the experience. And the biggest question of all: was there a second date?

Cooke is a 52-year-old editor working in the content sector. She is divorced, and the mother of two teenagers and two large, reasonably well-behaved dogs. After a long relationship break, she re-entered the dating scene 18 months ago.

Who did you go on a date with? Nick, 44, a retail manager.

Where did you go? To the beach for a swim and then a picnic.

What did you like about his profile? He just looked like a really nice guy, plus he had a picture with his dog, which, as a dog person, always appeals to me.

How did the date get organised? We had been talking for a little while online, and I just had a good feeling about him, so thought I’d ask him if he wanted to do something different than the usual drink at a bar. So I suggested we meet at our closest beach for a late swim, then have a picnic on the grass. He thought it was a great idea. I really liked the fact that he was prepared to do something a bit different.

What did you wear? Just a simple black cotton dress over my swimmers, with Birkenstocks. My daughter thought my choice of footwear was hilarious – “So sexy, Mum” – but what else can you wear on a beach date?

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What about him appealed to you? He just seemed like a really nice genuine human being. He was interested in my life and what I felt and thought about a lot of things. I found that a bit unusual … a lot of men I meet seem to be a lot more egocentric. I suppose that’s why I suggested the beach … it’s probably not something I would have been comfortable suggesting with someone less approachable. Also, you’ve got to bare your body at the beach … so I think you need to feel comfortable about who he is.

What did you talk about? Oh, God, everything. I think we put the picnic blanket down and opened a bottle of wine about six o’clock … we were still there at nine, talking about family, our past, our childhoods. We had a lot of common interests … music, travel, books. Really interesting. Not the usual, ‘What do you do?’, ‘Where do you live?’ kind of stuff.

Any embarrassing moments? I think wearing your swimmers at a beach in front of someone you don’t really know that well was a little challenging … but it seemed to pan out okay. I did manage to knock half a bottle of rosé over though – wildly gesticulating about something important! – but he handled it all with aplomb.

What was the outcome? We saw each other a couple of times … I’m not really sure what happened in the end. It just didn’t seem to have legs, despite that original first connection and that really lovely date.

What did you take away from the experience? Don’t be afraid to try something different for your first date. Seriously, I’ve had soooo many drinks in bars … after a while, everything – and everyone – starts to look a bit the same. Nothing kind of stands out. But I remember that date really really well … lying on a blanket with the sun going down, sipping wine, eating cheese, having a great conversation. It’s not something I would suggest with every person – but if I felt there was a good connection, I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest something a bit out of the ordinary again. I think how they react to a slightly left-of-centre idea is also a good indicator of the kind of person they are.

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