A couple months ago, I quit. I quit an a cappella group I had been a part of since my freshman year of college, and I quit a two and a half year relationship. In an effort to start anew, I made it a point to spend more time with friends, food, and chocolate, and even made profiles on a few dating apps just for the hell of it. But in between my re-initiation into the dating world and getting comfortable with the phrase “Actually, I’m single,” I discovered a new facet to millenial dating that truly should not be: the coffee date.
Let me preface this diatribe with an anecdote. Last year, during my semester abroad in Paris, a French friend once asked me – in broken English and an adorably helpless accent – what the deal was with Americans saying things like “let’s get lunch” or “let’s get coffee”. As someone who says this often to people I genuinely want to get lunch or coffee with, I asked him what he meant. He told me that he has often encountered Americans who offer to get lunch or coffee in the future without actually following up on their offers. After so many of these unpromising offers, he came to the realization that Americans are a superficial bunch. Many of us are plagued with a social tick that causes us to blurt out “let’s get lunch soon” as a way to end a conversation we’re uncomfortable ending, despite our lack of intention to actually get lunch soon with this person.
Like offering to get coffee without the intention of getting coffee, the coffee date is a superficial one. It’s economical for both time and money’s sakes, and let’s face it, many millenials are either unemployed and broke, or employed, but broke from paying off piles of student loans. Coffee dates generally take place in the afternoon and are shorter than a dinner date, since you can finish a cup of coffee well before ordering and polishing off an entree. Like alcohol, there’s a limit to how many cups of coffee you can drink before you turn into your alter-ego, but unlike alcohol, coffee doesn’t help you determine if you are or are not sexually attracted to this person.
I’m an old-fashioned gal. If you’re going to buy me a drink, make it an alcoholic one. Better yet, let’s actually sit down to a real meal. At a restaurant, that is. We won’t be cooking dinner in my apartment because I reserve my limited culinary skills for people with whom I feel comfortable enough to let into my home. In fact, don’t even expect to see my apartment on the first date, unless of course, you’ve rented a limo to pick me up at my place on our way to a five-star restaurant. Is that too much?
As a broke college student, I agree with the need to be economical, and no longer do I expect the guy to foot the bill no matter what kind of date it is, especially if he, too, is a broke college student.
But money isn’t everything, and coffee dates are no exception. The real problem with the coffee date is that it wants to seem as though you’re going out to a bar or restaurant to get drinks. But you’re not.
Coffee dates are unromantic, non-committal, and hurried. I’m not a big coffee-drinker. I drink soy lattes because real milk upsets my stomach. Could I look any sexier running to the bathroom every couple minutes while my date tries to decide if I’m worth my four dollar laxative?
Enough said. Coffee dates are not real dates. We might all be broke and jaded, but as the French say, “Il faut faire un effort.” And if we’re really gonna make an effort to get to know each other, we can do better than sitting down to one or two cups of coffee. Can’t we?