Creative Alternatives to First-Date Greetings

When you’re meeting someone for the first time in a romantic context, greetings can be awkward. Will they do a little wave, while you go in for a bear hug? Will you attempt a subtle cheek kiss, just as they’re reaching for their travel hand sanitizer? With only a few seconds to assess body language and react accordingly, you should at least make it interesting. Here are some first-date greetings that are suitable alternatives to any of the classics.

Start a slow clap.

You see me. You put your hands together, slowly, nodding approvingly with every step I take in your direction. Your clapping has caught on—now the entire restaurant is roaring with applause. This is the dream. It’s all downhill from here.

Throw a bar snack in my mouth.

Our eyes meet, and you pick up a stale pretzel. If I catch it, this was meant to be. If the snack misses and hits me in the forehead, that could be a telltale sign of incompatibility. If I choke, I didn’t need another reason not to date anymore but here we are.

Pull out your phone and immediately call your mom to tell her that you’ve found The One.

I round the corner of the booth you’ve been waiting in (because I’m exactly twelve minutes late, to keep you on your toes). You take one look at me and open your phone to call Deborah. You say, with utter delight, “She’s here! I’ve found her! This is it!” We don’t work out, but I am flattered.

Shout “AH-OOH-GAH!” like a cartoon character.

I strut into the coffee shop. Your eyes bulge out of your face, and hearts possibly appear in them. In return, I hit myself over the head with a giant rubber mallet. Wait, what kind of “Looney Tunes” nightmare is this?

Chug your cocktail and let me rate your technique.

I approach you at the bar. You down your freshly poured whiskey like a dehydrated marathoner at the end of a race. I shout, “Seven!” You ask, “How do I get a ten?” I say, “I’m right here.” My wit kills.

Just hand me something cool.

Handshakes are out. Handing me a lottery ticket, puppy, plant, or first edition of my favorite book is in. If this is your preferred opener, prepare for a much-too-soon kiss on the mouth, because gift getting is one of my top five love languages.

Try a consensual chest bump.

Starting a date like we’ve just scored a goal at a sporting event could, quite frankly, be hot.

Ask for my I.D.

You say, “You don’t look old enough to be in a bar!,” which is cute. I say, “Show me yours first!,” which is bold. You hand yours over. I feel safer knowing your address, organ-donor status, and facial-hair situation six years ago. I show you my I.D. if/when we ever marry.

Announce a dance-off.

Why start with “Hello, nice to meet you!,” when you could say, “So you think you can dance?” Within moments of the first unchoreographed moves, we injure ourselves, because we did not stretch and are over thirty. In lieu of break-dancing, we bond over broken bodies––but not hearts. Yet.

Initiate a game of hide-and-seek.

We spot each other. I close my eyes and count to twenty. You sneak off to a secret nook in the dark venue. I get a couple of drinks at the bar before you emerge, dumbfounded, and say, “What the hell?” Oops. I forgot to find you. I close my eyes and count until you’re gone again.

Maintain super-intense eye contact.

We Marina Abramović the shit out of this greeting until one of us cries.

Do a magic trick.

I roll up to the park. You pull out a deck of cards and tell me to pick one. I make myself disappear, because I can’t be with a magician.


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