Hi Infatuation London,
My question is: where can I (an introvert) go on a first date? I want a spot that’s not very well known so it’s not going to be packed. Also, a place that doesn’t get very loud so I won’t have to shout over my date.
To beloved introvert Justin,
For our shared morale, let’s kick this off with a list of things I have done before, after, and during dates:
Hidden behind a Bournemouth bird aviary. Hidden behind a tree in Hyde Park. Hidden in a Pret toilet for 28 minutes. Realised my date was quite attractive, panicked, and walked clear past them. Demanded they buy me a Twix to demonstrate my ‘inner Lizzo’. Lied about speaking Dutch to someone who was, in fact, Dutch. Attempted to lick my own elbow as ‘banter’. Gone mute. Turned up with my friend. Panic ordered a ‘cool’ craft beer that frankly, could have been cat piss. Spoken about my pet rabbit’s likes and dislikes for over two hours. Recounted my parents’ divorce in incredibly vibrant detail. Agreed to move to Paris with a man who was high on morphine. Bragged about having ‘a large wing span’ when complimented. Claimed that Abba - yes, Abba - was my favourite band for absolutely no reason. And my romantic pièce de résistance, going into literal septic shock on a first date at the zoo that resulted in a five-day hospital stay.
What I’m saying here is, I hate dating and dating hates me. Please raise your hand if you feel personally victimised by Hinge and having to leave the house (Justin, my hand is very much raised). Dates are horrible, they’re like a high-pressured job interview, except if you get rejected you can’t blame your lack of Powerpoint skills or nepotism. Yes, under all of my online dating advice bravado, I really am quite terrified of meeting new people and often get delightful feedback from the good men of London like ‘you’re much more shy than I thought you would be’. This is all terrible news for the trajectory of my love life, but you know what Justin, it’s great news for you, because it means that I have a mental arsenal of date spots which are perfect for those of us who would rather have a tooth pulled (or die alone) than attempt to romance a stranger in view of the public.
One such place that is a friend to introverted flirters everywhere is The Pineapple. This old school Kentish Town boozer is charming, casual, and won’t blast The Smiths so loudly and so incessantly that you end up screaming ‘SORRY DID YOU SAY YOU HAVE A CAT OR A BROTHER NAMED MATT?’ into someone’s face before you’ve even finished your first pint. On the right sunny day, their secluded little back garden makes for a perfect post-work drink, or you can opt for one of their quiet fire-adjacent private corners inside. They also serve a long menu of Thai classics and although the food isn’t going to change your life, it’s worth knowing about in case it’s all a wild success and you get hungry. Another massive bonus is that The Pineapple is on a quiet back road, so if you’re bravely meeting a total stranger from the internet, there’s none of that ‘guess which of these people is my companion for the evening’ horror.
If that sounds a touch too casual and you rightfully believe that wine is the quickest way to become a raging extrovert, then I’d like to introduce you to Bottles. A wine bar on the edge of Old Spitalfields Market, this place feels distinctly private and no one will bat an eye if you’re giving off that ‘we’re on an entirely awkward first date’ energy. If you’ve committed to dinner then this moody but majestic spot also serves pasta from Sood, but the portions are pretty small and prices stack up quick. So for the sake of your bank account and peak casual date potential, I’d recommend finding a spot on their quiet terrace to test the waters with a couple of £8 glasses of Italian wine, then move on to artisanal nibbles and a bottle if all goes well.
Now, if spending an evening with someone sounds a little too intense / the siren song of being alone with Netflix is too loud, then another prime option is a daytime date. That’s right, ‘fancy grabbing a coffee?’ it’s your time to shine. We, in fact, have an entire guide dedicated to the delicate art of the coffee date, but some personal caffeine-meets-romance highlights include finding a spot on Allpress Daltson’s huge, secluded patio, enjoying the top soundtrack at Tooting’s Juliet’s, or swapping stories in F. Mondays’ little lowkey garden. But if you’re looking to keep your options open, both Farringdon’s foliage-heaven Fare and Scooter Café in Waterloo are the kind of effortless places where a coffee can turn into a drink.
Some final words of wisdom from someone who has made all the mistakes (please see: paragraph one) so you don’t have to. Wear something that you like to put on all the time so that you’re comfortable and don’t spend the entire date apologising for the overwhelming, psychedelic nature of the shirt you purchased forty-minutes prior to meeting them. Avoid anywhere where there’s likely to be a large group of hammered people who will loudly analyse your date for sport. Finally, get ‘high on your own supply’ beforehand - no, I am not suggesting you sniff a Sharpie, just listen to something pumped. Then mentally recite all the things you’re really great at - e.g. playing guitar, really working those round glasses, and having fabulous taste in online restaurant review platforms.
Go get ’em,