Looking for love but hate organised fun? Bad luck. A study has found we’re snubbing the standard dating script of drinks and dinner in favour of more ambitious activities – a hike up a mountain was the most popular first date activity for 40- to 60-year-olds, while the top choice for twentysomethings was mini-golf.

Admittedly, struggling up a rain-lashed hillside with a fitness bore may not sound like the height of romance. Yet, as dating coach James Preece says, “you are creating a new memory that will linger in the mind longer than a traditional date” – even if said memory is little more than a warning to never see that person again. Besides, there is more to activity dates than mountaineering and mini-golf. Here are the best of the rest.

The zoo

According to Preece, opting for something that conjures happy childhood memories will make you feel “more relaxed and playful”. It also offers a sure-fire method of determining whether your companion is “the one”. If they don’t swoon when you rattle off the niche marsupial facts you obsessed over as a youngster, they deserve not a second more of your attention.

Bowling

Like the zoo, it recalls simpler times: in this instance, pre-teen parties. No matter how limited your seduction techniques are nowadays, you can at least feel proud that you no longer flirt by dropping bowling balls on the toes of people you fancy.

The board game afternoon

You’ve been challenged to a game of Scrabble, so naturally you assume this will be a cosy afternoon in a pub, playing footsie under the table while spelling out suggestive words. Wrong, I’m afraid. Proponents of this kind of date are unfailingly board-game nerds who will be more turned on at the prospect of a triple-word score than upending the board and kissing you. Attend, only if you share their kink for vocabulary – or if you’re prepared to lay out “S-E-X” and have their only reaction be admiration that you managed to use the high-value “X” tile.

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The gym session

A bit out of shape? No matter, says Preece. “Displaying a little vulnerability rather than being too competitive will work in your favour.”

A park stroll

While no first date is a metaphorical walk in the park, the activity itself is a good choice, says social anthropologist Jean Smith. Ambling side by side before pausing for an al-fresco snack means: “You get the face-to-face time but it’s less pressure.”



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