15 Real First Dates That Prove Even Forever-Love Has to Start Somewhere

Hilary Sheinbaum | Jun 20, 2017 Love & Sex
15 Real First Dates That Prove Even Forever-Love Has to Start Somewhere
Image: Courtesy of Brittney Levine

Courtesy of Brittney Levine

First dates can be incredibly nerve-racking. What if I say something stupid? What if THEY say something stupid? Is there's something in my teeth? Beyond the potentially awkward situations, there's always the hope that the person sitting across the table might be a soul mate -- or at least a long-term relationship. Sometimes, upon meeting the right person, they can lead to forever. (Cue the sappy, lovey music.)

As second, third, and infinite dates go by, weeks and months later, it's nice to reminisce about that initial get-together way back when. Did sparks fly? Maybe not so much.

These 15 real women share what their first dates were like with their now-partners: boyfriends, fiancés, and husbands. Read on to uncover the good, the bad, the super cutesy, and even the ugly.

  • Pizza & Sunkist

    Alexandra and Mike Chau
    Mike Chau

    "January 2001, our school held their annual show called Sing. Michael and I attended together, and I knew we'd be married when we shared a can of Sunkist soda during the show! Looking back, I wish I had saved the can. We attended the play together and went for pizza afterward. The pizza shop still stands and is located where we now live with our two children, Matthew, 3, and Samantha, 1. We now find ourselves taking our children to dinner where we had our first date.

    "I recall being very sweaty! I don't normally sweat much but I recall practically soaking my shirt through! I was so excited and nervous to be on a date with Michael. A number of girls in our high school wanted to date Michael and had tried unsuccessfully to do so. It was a big deal to be on a date with him and something I worked toward for a solid four months. I still remember the thrill of elbows touching, how scandalous!" -- Alexandra C., Forest Hills, Queens, NY

  • The 3.5 Hour Drive

    Melissa Perry
    Melissa Perry

    "We met through friends. Our first date was an unofficial date. It was the first time we actually met in person and he was only in town for the day. Chad picked me up to eat at Panera. We talked, ate, and then he had to drive 3.5 hours back home. He was the most handsome man I had ever seen. We had the same beliefs and values and enjoyed doing the same things. It was love at first sight! The unofficial 'date' was in Orlando. I didn't want to smile showing my teeth because he was a dentist!" -- Melissa P., Denver, CO

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  • Phillies Tickets

    Dana Weiss & Neil Broome
    Dana Weiss Photography

    "I met Neil on my first day of work at a boating supply store. He was a warehouse manager, and I was coming in to be a cashier. My husband is shy. Very shy. Our coworkers bet him a week's worth of lunch that he couldn't ask me out." "Unbeknownst to me, the whole store gathered in the manager's office and watched -- over CC TV -- him attempt to ask me out. When he did ask, my immediate reaction was 'Yes.' Then I added, 'Where do you want to go?' and he looked like a deer in the headlights. He got flushed and began to stammer. Just as he was about to speak, a voice came over the store intercom, 'We have two free Phillies tickets for anyone who needs to go on a date ... two ... free. .. Phillies tickets ... for anyone, in aisle 3 ... who would like to go on a date.' He smiled at me and said, 'So, you wanna go to a Phillies game?' I said yes." -- Dana W., Southern New Jersey

  • Dating Advice

    couple lounging on deck
    Chelsea Leigh

    "We met through my advice column and me being a breakup coach. Ian wrote in about a girl he was dating, who he was seeking some direction with. That was in October 2016. The column ran in November; in December we got back in touch through Instagram, and a few weeks later he booked a flight [from Louisiana] to New York City to meet me at the end of January.

    "Ian flying to New York on a whim to stay with me for a week was really our first date. Our first 'date-date' was the following day. We went to the Grey Dog in the West Village, which is was homey and yummy and perfect. Then we walked the High Line, holding hands, moving slowly, and really just taking it in. We were probably the two most unrushed people in New York City that day. From there, we went for mint chip ice cream and more wandering and, on the way home, he stopped suddenly and asked if I had a vase and right then and there bought me white roses, my favorite. That whole day was romantic but in no way forced. Then we went home, made some gin and tonics, turned on a Blues hockey game, live streamed a Coast Modern concert, and just danced around together like we'd had a 1,001 of those same nights together." -- Chelsea L., New York, NY

  • The Christmas Party

    Brittney Levine and Ryan Adler
    Brittney Levine

    "We connected through my good girlfriend, who had told me for the past two years that I needed to meet him, while I was dating someone else. We met at one of her famous Christmas parties. Our initial encounter was during that awkward time between the holidays where you're spending time with family: We both had small vacations planned and couldn't go on a date right away.  

    "[On our first date] when I first walked into [the bar], the bartender jumped over the bar to give me a hug and huge double kiss. Ryan really had no clue what to think: 'How does she know him? Does she bring a lot of guys here?!' -- but he ended up being an ex-client of mine and recently moved to work there. It's very funny when Ryan now recounts this story to others, because I had thought nothing of it at the time." -- Brittney L., New York City

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  • Arcade Games

    Kenna Cook and Oak
    Kenna Cook

    "We met at our volunteer job in November 2015. I was teaching my first-ever sex education class to a group of LGBT youth at our local LGBT Center and he was the peer advocate and group facilitator that night.

    "Oak and I took my two sons to a live outdoor performance of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in Old Sacramento. We all got hot coco and popcorn and watched the performance together huddled up next to each other. This was a first for me on so many levels -- the first time my boys had seen this performance, the first time I merged my dating life and my family life, and the first time I felt like I found someone who didn't need to separate my identity as a single mom from who they wanted to date. The boys then took us by the hand and ran us over to a vintage video game store where we all played Pac-Man and TMNT on old-school arcade machines. My oldest son put Oak's hand in mine and said, 'You should be his girlfriend.'" -- Kenna C., Sacramento

  • No Kiss Goodnight

    Jaime Maser & Howie Berman
    Jaime Maser

    "A bunch of Michigan guys, Howie included, had a blow-out group birthday party ... my best friend convinced me to go with her and her group of friends.

    "We had our first date at Bar Veloce on Second Avenue in the East Village in New York City. The venue was my pick -- Howie had suggested the now-shuttered Luna Park in Union Square, which I vetoed because I was a little bit of a city snob and had felt it had had its heyday back in summer '02. Anyway, Howie had driven in -- he was living upstate, where his business was -- and picked me up at my apartment. We walked down to Bar Veloce, snagged a table, and proceeded to have many glasses of wine and just talk. Not first date interview -- à la 'What do you do? Where did you grow up? Do you have siblings?' -- but really talk. I remember thinking to myself, 'Wow, this is so unusual in a good way.' I was stoked to not feel like we were lobbing Q&As at each other but having true conversation. It felt so un-first date-y, which I loved. I remember thinking this guy is a great storyteller and has lots of insight and interest, and as the night progressed, I became more and more attracted. He had a kind smile and was confident -- two things that were really appealing.

    "At the end of our first date, he walked me home and said he'd like to see me again but hugged me good-bye and didn't try to kiss me -- which threw me for a loop." -- Jaime M., Jersey City, NJ

  • Blind Date

    Sam Rosen
    Sam Rosen

    "We met in Manhattan on a true blind date set up by a mutual friend almost six years ago. There was an instant attraction and connection. We went on three dates in five days that first week and quickly realized we were meant for each other. We've been best friends since that first date!

    "We decided to grab drinks at Angel Share in the East Village. After [he told me] I had to find this sushi restaurant and walk upstairs, find an unmarked door, and then I'll find the speakeasy, you could say I was a bit intrigued but also very nervous for where we were going. It ended up being the best night, and I really started falling for him that first night, on a Thursday. We went for lunch on Saturday afternoon, followed by dinner on Monday night and after the third date, we decided we weren't going to see other people. We've literally been best friends since Day One and continue to share in the same joy we did six years [ago], just being together, exploring and always having the most fun possible." -- Sam R., New York City

  • Coffee & Comics

    Annmarie Mercieri
    Annmarie Mercieri

    "We were supposed to go out for pizza on a Friday with our mutual friends to meet in person for the first time. I thought nothing of it -- just that he was my friend's friend and seemed really sweet and funny. Then we got chatting online a week or two before pizza and he asked me out for coffee. I thought coffee was different, especially for a post-work date in New York City, and so I said yes.

    "We met at a comic book shop because we both mentioned we liked comics. When I walked in I found him towards the back and asked, 'Dan?' When he turned around, the bag on his back knocked over a bunch of display boxes and he looked terrified, like a deer in headlights. We awkwardly walked around the comic book shop flipping through pages and making small talk before grabbing coffee and people-watching in Union Square. We talked for two hours that night and then parted ways with a simple good-bye. We saw each other again two days later for the friends-pizza outing. Once we fell into a more comfortable pattern with each other, perhaps after two weeks or so of hanging out, I realized I really liked him." -- Annmarie M., New York City

  • Community College Winter Dance

    Carrie Aulenbacher

    "Our first date was the school's winter dance, December 11, 1998, at the Avalon Hotel just a few blocks from the school in Erie, Pennsylvania. I had been planning to go with my LGBT+ friend, Dan, who was very involved with the school at the time. Two weeks before the ball, he met someone and planned a date for that same night. By this time, Joe and I had tentatively agreed that I did not want to date him but that I was comfortable talking to him so we could get to know each other. I mentioned I'd been 'dumped' yet still wanted to go to the winter ball, and he offered to take me instead. Reluctantly (and nervously), I agreed.

    "Usually rough around the edges, Joe picked me up in a sweater and tie and treated me like a queen. I was a wallflower but everyone at school knew Joe; it was quite an experience." -- Carrie A., Erie, PA

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  • Money for Bail

    Blair Critich and Ryan Critich
    Blair Critich

    "[Our first date] ended with Ryan in jail for expired tags. I was running around Carrollton, Georgia, scraping together $200 to bail him out." -- Blair C., Fort Lauderdale

  • Chinese Food

    Trish Hoffman and Jeff Fisher
    Trish Hoffman
    "Our first date took place at a Chinese restaurant in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on November 6, 1998. Jeff always left the station on Friday nights to shoot game highlights for his high school football show The Big Ticket, but this night he took me to dinner instead and shocked the entire newsroom. He ordered chicken and broccoli, and I had pot stickers that I didn't eat.

    "A silly moment we shared was when Jeff asked me why I wasn't eating. I blurted out like fool, 'When I'm with someone I enjoy talking to sometimes I don't eat.' Well, the cat was out of the bag right then. Obviously I was more interested in him than just working together. And obviously that was true, as we have been together for 18 years. We plan to get married on our 20th anniversary." -- Trish H., Los Angeles
  • 7 Hours at the Bar

    Erika Rayman & Anton
    Erika Rayman

    "We met at Columbia Business School. We had a class together called Napoleon's Glance. It's a strategy class about how a 'flash of insight' gave people business ideas that changed their lives. Anton and I joke that we were each other's Napoleon's Glance -- totally corny but it was true for us; I was starting a new business, he and his daughter had moved to NYC for business school, and together we started a new life.

    "Anton asked me out for a casual Wednesday night drink at a favorite Tribeca spot in New York City. I remember it being a sweltering evening but inside it was cool and dark and Anton got there early and got us prime seats at the bar. We had planned to just get a drink but got wildly lost in conversation and lost all track of time. Suddenly the lights came on and without realizing it seven hours had passed and the bar was closing! I didn't want the night to end." -- Erika R., New York City

  • Balling Out

    Mary Shockley and Ricky Shockley
    Mary Shockley

    "We didn't have our first date until about one month after we initially met. It was in December at a restaurant -- now closed -- called Brewzzi. Ricky picked me up for our date that night, opened all doors, and was very gentleman-like! He mentioned to me -- years later -- that he wanted to impress me so badly on our first date that he 'balled out' that night. We ordered drinks, appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and a few more drinks! I actually offered to split the bill but he wouldn't let me. I do remember watching what I ordered, not because of a diet or anything, but because I didn't want to get anything stuck in my teeth." -- Mary S., West Palm Beach

  • Love Before First Sight

    Weiss Beidel & Rande Beidel
    Christine Weiss Beidel

    "We met online on Swoon.com, which was run by Details magazine back in 1999. We spoke on the phone for several weeks before actually meeting.

    "We had really fallen in love before seeing each other. We had a couple of drinks and went for a walk even though it was rainy. We ended up at Lincoln Center and he kissed me on one of the benches in front of the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. I let him walk me home to my apartment a few blocks away, but wouldn't let him stay! He had to go back to Jersey at like 2 a.m." -- Christine B., New Jersey

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