Date Ideas: Values-Identifying Dates

Most people’s values are easy to identify over a long dating period, but sometimes they can be harder to recognize in just one or two dates. Ultimately, it’s going to be hard to find out your date’s feelings on an issue if you don’t talk about it. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to go on dates that will promote talking about such sensitive and vital topics. If you’d like to learn more about your date’s values, try some of these ideas to find out her feelings about media, morality, modesty, unselfishness, worthiness, material possession, and family values.

Go to a Movie Theater and Rate Movies by Preference

If you’re already going to a movie anyway, while you’re waiting in line, or waiting to be let in the theater, get out a notepad and make two lists: one for your date, and one for you. Then, list all the movies playing in the theater in the order of which you would most likely watch. When you’re finished, talk about your lists. Which are at the top, and which are at the bottom. Discuss with your date why they put them in the order they did.

Go to a Fireside Together

This works especially well if the topic is standards, values, or integrity. After the fireside, talk about what was said.


Ask your date what he would do if he was given a million dollars, and then talk about what you would do with it. Get as detailed as possible.

Kindness Contest

Challenge your date to a kindness contest. Whatever your activity, any time one of you does something kind for someone else (it can’t be to one of the two of you), that person gets a point. It can be a smile or wave, it can be opening the door for someone, it can be a compliment or show of gratitude. You can (and should) show kindness to each other as well, but those won’t count for the contest.

Where’s the Line?” Game

If you are good friends with your date, or you have really good communication with your date, play the game, “Where’s the Line?”

Talk about different scenarios to see where you feel that a person has crossed the line. For example,

“You’re trying to fix your car, and your two-year-old nephew comes out and wants to help. He keeps getting into dangerous situations, so you ask him to go back inside the house. He doesn’t go, but continues to play in a way that could get him hurt. You swear at him and tell him if he doesn’t go back in, he’ll be in big trouble. He continues to ignore you until you finally take him inside, give him a spanking, and put him in his room. Did you cross the line? Where? What would be the better approach?”


“You’re on a date and take a drive to see the sunset. After eating a packed dinner, you cuddle until it gets dark, and then make-out for an hour. You end up falling asleep and wake up around three in the morning. Did you cross the line? Where? What should you have done?”

This works best if you’re taking a walk, a drive, or doing something that encourages conversation (see Talking Dates)

Go Shopping Together

Sometimes shopping for clothes together (even if it’s only window shopping) can be a great way to find out your date’s attitude toward modesty. What kinds of things would she wear if they could afford it? What kinds of things does he suggest you try?

Do Baptisms for the Dead

Invite him to go with you to do baptisms for the dead, or any other temple ordinance. If your date has an active temple recommend, you already know quite a bit about him.

Swap Wards

One week, go together to your ward. See how comfortable she acts, and how well she participates. She may be shy, but you should be able to tell from her actions if she is comfortable being at church. The next week, go together to her ward. See how the people react to her. Do they know her? Is she as much a stranger as you are?

What Would You Do Different?

We all want to do some things different than our parents, and we all have things that we like about what our parents did. Do you want to react the same way your parents would? Talk about those things. Introduce the discussion this way, and then take turns picking topics. For example:

“When you came home with a bad grade: different, or the same?”

Then talk about how each of your parents reacted, and whether you hope to react the same.

“Child discipline: different, or the same?”

Then discuss how your parents disciplined you, and whether you want to use the same methods.

“Purchasing styles: different or the same?”

“How they celebrated birthdays: different or the same?”

“Their attitudes about pets: different or the same?”

Most Valuable Possession Discussion

Ask your date, “If you and your family suddenly had to permanently leave your home and take only one thing with you, what would you bring?”

Then talk about what your response would be.

Date Ideas: Ice-Breaker Dates

Not sure how to break the ice with your date? Sometimes it’s the simple things that can help you get comfortable being together, espcially if you or your date is shy (which, I might remind you, is not a bad thing). Here are a few ideas that might help you open up without too much pressure to do a lot of talking.

Make Ice Cream Together (no pun intended—okay, yeah, pun intended)

Everyone loves ice-cream, right? But making it together gives you a comfortable situation that allows for opportunities to talk and get a sense of each other’s working together style.

Horse-back Riding

Face it, you’ve always wanted to try it. Chances are, your date has, too.


Any kind of arcade could work, but a simple one like Nickelcade is likely to be a decent atmosphere… and yes, cheaper.

Go to a Themed Restaurant

A good example of a themed restaurant is the Mayan. Just Google to see what themed restaurants are in your area. A themed restaurant provides a lot to talk about while you eat.

Do Something Based On How You Know Your Date

If you know your date from school, go to a school event together. If you know her from church, go to a church function or fireside. If you met through Institute, attend ‘tute activity. If you take her to something based on how you met, you’re likely to have things to talk about.


There’s a reason this is a great dating activity. You don’t need skill to have a great time, and there is ample pressure-free opportunity to talk.

Miniature Golf

This one’s very much like bowling, except even more fun, in my opinion, because it’s easy to make up your own rules, or add rules as you go along.

A Good Thought Provoking Movie

Don’t just show up at the theater and see if something’s playing. Research beforehand to find a good, squeaky-clean, thought-provoking movie that’s sure to have you both deep in conversation for a long time after the date. I’ve always felt that if a movie doesn’t spark great conversation, it’s probably not worth seeing.

Play Chess or Checkers

Chess and Checkers are safe games because everyone knows how to play one or the other. You don’t have to worry about awkward lulls in conversation, because after all, “I’m thinking” is a valid response to them. But sitting and playing together provides great opportunity to comfortably talk about anything at all.

Scavenger Hunt

Get a group together and do a scavenger hunt. A scavenger hunt will get you paired off with your date, but provide lots for you to do together. You’ll have to talk in order to accomplish or find the things on the list. You can find tons of list ideas on the Internet.

Date Ideas: Financial Responsibility Dates

Having a great bank account isn’t nearly as important as having good, financial sense. Here are a few date ideas to help you find out about your date’s financial sense (as well as your own!).

Five Bucks Each

Take five dollars and give your date five dollars. Go to a store and split up to see who can purchase the most interesting, fun, or useful stuff for five dollars.

Check Out Local Yard Sales

Wander the suburbs on a Saturday afternoon in the spring and stop at all the local yard sales you find.


Play a serious game of Monopoly, all the way to the end—it’s the later part of the game where you start learning about people’s financial styles.

Come Up with a Budget Together

Do a mock budget together. If you had $__ per month income, how would you divide it out. You can learn a LOT about a person doing this.

Financial “Personality Profile”

There are a lot of personality profiles for financial styles that help you determine what you consider worth your money, how spendy or thrifty you are. Take turns taking a few such profiles.

Plan a Trip to Hawaii (don’t go, just plan)

Pretend you’re planning a trip to Hawaii together. Research flight costs, travel expenses, food, hotels, time off work, vacation days, and everything else that would be involved.

Test Drive Cars

Test drive cars at a dealership, and have conversations about the costs, and how you would pay for the car if you were to get it.

Play “The Game of Life,” or “Payday.”

There are a number of games, such as “The Game of Life,” or “Payday” that seek to imitate real life financial issues.

Go House Shopping

Go to a house show, where you can go see all the open houses for sale. Tour them as if looking to buy. Talk about what you’d like in a house someday and encourage your date to do the same.


Did you know you can make homemade laundry soap? Dishwasher soap? Ranch dressing? Hand/diaper wipes? Most common household items can be made from scratch. Try making some of these together. Try some practical skills, but also try some things based on one of your interests. If your date is really into hand-bags, find out how to make your own, and do it together.

Date Ideas: Educational Dates


Get a star map (they have an app for that) and a telescope or pair of binoculars, and go to a location at least a few miles out of town after dark and look at the stars. Try to identify constellations, galaxies, and any nebulae you can find.

Audobon Nut

Get a field guide to… anything! Then go to an appropriate location and look up everything you can. They have field guides for all kinds of things: birds, trees, bugs, flowers, animals, edible plants, rocks and minerals—whatever you both might find interesting, go out searching for them, identifying as many as possible. You may want to bring a camera or two to catch your own photos of your findings.


Planetariums can be so much fun when you go with an attitude of curiosity. If they have a lazer/star show, go to it. If they have experiments and gravity suits to try, do it. And don’t forget to check out the gift shop. There’s usually a lot of cool stuff in there, too.

Plant a Garden Together

Plant a garden with both of your favorite items. This is not only fun and educational, but it’s especially good if you’re really hoping for a follow-up date. “Hey, want to go check on our garden?”

Go to an Art Gallery

Sometimes art galleries can seem either boring or overwhelming to most people. Take your date to one, but instead of just passively admiring all the works, go with the idea of finding one piece that especially stands out to each of you. Get a good look around to make sure it’s the one that most catches your interest, and tell each other why that piece is your favorite.

Another fun thing to do at an art gallery is to come up with stories about the paintings. Make up scenarios that “explain” what’s going on. Be as detailed as possible. You may learn a lot about your date from their stories.

Visit the Zoo

Yes, it’s cliché, and yes, it’s still way fun. And believe it or not, most Zoos are open year round.

Go to a Museum

There are dozens of kinds of museums. There are history museums, church museums, science museums, art museums, children’s museums, animal museums (think giant aquarium), and even human museums (I’ve never been to a body museum, and don’t think I’d like to, but just saying). Go to the museum you think your date would most enjoy.

Learn a New Skill Together

You can learn a lot about a person by observing how they learn. Decide on a new skill to learn and use whatever resources you can to learn how to do it. The Internet is the obvious one, but there are also libraries, classes, and experts around that might help you learn a skill. Ask your date if there’s something he/she’s always wanted to learn to do, and learn it together. It could be dancing, karate, origami, microscope study, cooking, auto-mechanics, basketball, graphic design, plumbing, weaving, rock-tumbling, or any number of things. Learn it together. Then follow up with each other on later dates, or practice together.

Go to a Local “Gardens”

Go to a local professional garden park such as the Botanical Gardens, Red Butte Gardens, the Gardens at Thanksgiving point, and many of these gardens have annual events. Visit a local professional garden. You might want to bring a field guide along.

Geek Date

Find out what your date is geek about (maybe they LOVE examining the back of Afghans, or are a rifle nut), and go to a store, show, or festival surrounding that thing. People always love talking about about their own interests, and regardless of what you think of it all, your date will have a great time talking to you about it. Allow them to show you all the cool stuff that you may not yet know.

Dating Goals

As some of you may already know, I’m getting a dating advice book ready for publication. My wife and I have a dating advice blog as well, which we’ve neglected a bit lately, but since I post fairly regularly on this blog, I thought I’d post the entries for that blog in both places. So here’s the entry for today!

Photo by Shelly Hathaway at
Photo by Shelly Hathaway at

One of the important lessons I had to learn quickly in dating is to not let fear of the future rule the present. I suppose I wasn’t unique in wanting to get just the right girl on the first try. As a teenager, I used to think to myself: wouldn’t it be cool if the first girl I ever have 2 dates with turns out to be my wife? Well, that goal was spoiled in high school when a girl I asked out asked me to a school dance, and we never went out again.

So modified my goal: Wouldn’t it be cool if the first girl I went out with twicewhere I did the asking both times, was the girl I ended up marrying? Well, shortly after my mission I went on a blind date with a girl, and it went well. I thought I might kind of like her, so I asked her out again. That didn’t last, though we did go on a total of three dates.

So I modified my goal again: Maybe the first girl I go on more than 3 dates with will be my wife someday. Well, a year or two after my mission, I met a girl who I liked, who liked me, and we hit it off okay at first – we even decided after “the talk” (we’ll discuss what ‘the talk’ is later), that we would consider each other boyfriend and girlfriend. A couple weeks later, we broke it off.

So much for my goals. I hadn’t yet held hands, kissed a girl, or fallen in love, so I thought about forming new goals around those things. But after that last failure, those kinds of goals suddenly seemed silly. The point was not to succeed without failure, the point was to succeed. I was looking for an eternal companion, and if that meant first holding hands with or falling in love with a number of girls I wouldn’t end up marrying, so be it. The Lord never said I had to get it right on my first try.

In fact, I think there is benefit in dating a good number of girls, and if in that process you find one that you think just might have a slight chance of being the one for you, don’t be afraid to encourage things to progress that way. That’s how relationships are formed, and once you find someone that meets your basic requirements, it will likely take risk and commitment to learn about the deeper aspects of the person’s life. You aren’t likely to find out a person’s dirt or gems on the basis of simple friendship. And once you do get close enough, and make simple commitments to each other, you will find out more about your date than you could in casual dating.

You need to learn as much as you appropriately can about a person before deciding to marry them. You won’t learn everything before marriage, but the more you learn, the more equipped you are to make that decision.

One day I attended a fireside talk by John Bytheway. His topic was “What I Wish I’d Known When I Was Single.” The whole talk was basically about single life and the dating game. One of the things he mentioned was that in his search for a wife, there came a time that he decided he would go on a date at least once a week.

I thought a lot about that resolution. By this time in my life, I had slowed my dating progress and was going out about once a month or so on average, and didn’t feel like I was getting much accomplished in the dating scheme. So I made a similar resolution (though not as intense): I would ask a girl on a date at least every other week. That was my rule.

For me, this was a very effective plan. For one thing, it got me going on dates often, and going on dates provided the social and emotional development I needed to be able to handle the whole dating experience. Of course, some of the early attempts at this program were rather humiliating, but with practice, asking girls on dates became far less traumatic.

Second, following this plan allowed me to focus on what I could control. My job was to ask a girl on a date. If she said “no,” then I was off the hook for a couple weeks. It never does any good for anyone to focus on what they can’t control. I could not control her response. I could only improve myself and try again with a different girl later. I’d try to give myself a better hairstyle or wear a different deodorant. I’d try working out a bit more and cutting back on my bad habits.

This pattern of every other week dating (and it wasn’t too long before I was going on dates at least every other week,) turned out to be one of the most fun periods of my life. I learned a lot, spent a lot, and met a lot of great people. Though it could be frustrating when these efforts didn’t seem to lead to any serious relationships, I was learning how to interact with girls, and learning what to look for – and look out for.

Revolutionizing the Course of the Universe

This story took place a short time before Jenni and I were married.


It was a very dull day at Deseret Book as I leaned against the counter, chin in hands, waiting for something to happen. One of my co-workers stood only a few feet away, bored as I was.

“So,” I said, trying to break the monotony, “What should I do to revolutionize the course of the world today?”

He thought a moment. “Got any bombs? You could always blow up an important building somewhere.”

“That’s true. But I don’t have any bombs. Besides, that’s a bad thing, and there are plenty of bad things going on all the time. I need to find something good to do.”

“That’s true,” he replied. Then we both fell back into silence.

I began thinking more about our conversation. What could one do to revolutionize the course of the world? What about the universe? Could one person effect the destiny of the universe?

There have been many people who have changed the course of life on this planet; Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. George Washington led a revolutionary war that led to the foundation of what might be considered the most powerful nation in world history. But did those things change the destiny of the universe?

It occurred to me that the person who best fit that description would have to be Jesus Christ. Not only did he save the destiny of every person who would ever live, but He provided a way for us to become like His Father.

Now there’s a new approach to the question. If I have potential to become like my Father in Heaven, then certainly I have power to effect the destiny of the universe.
So I guess the next question would have to be, what can I do today to best effect that progress? Of course, a response as broad as “live the gospel” wasn’t really a sufficient, since I had been striving to do that my whole life.

Then I realized that I was in the process of beginning one of the major aspects of the perfecting process. I was about to get married in the temple. I decided that maybe the best thing I could do to work toward that goal would be to strengthen my relationship with Jenni. How could I do that? That question is easy. I could be kind and loving to her.

I looked around the store. Everything was quiet, normal, ordinary. Customers came in and left. Employees straightened bookshelves or stood patiently waiting for something to happen. I had a date with Jenni scheduled for that night. I decided that tonight I would change the course of the universe – I would show love and kindness towards her.

Making Moments: Questionarriage


I’ve been ignoring all the marriage questionnaires on Facebook for awhile, but then Jenni and I decided it might make a good Valentines podcast, so we collected a few such questionnaires and recorded ourselves answering the questions on them for our family podcast, which is at

You can also find it on iTunes if you search the podcasts for “Popcorn and Podcasting.”

Blind Date

I have a suspicion that the only reason the blind date still exists is that for some few individuals, they actually work. The rest of us must suffer for the sake of the few. Years ago, Dad had a friend at work with a daughter my age, and somehow he managed to set me up with his daughter. So, he gave me her phone number, and after a couple weeks of putting it off, I finally called her. We talked for a bit, and reluctantly I asked her out. She agreed, and we scheduled a date for Friday night.

I have horrible orientation skills, so when I learned that this girl lived in Layton, I nearly panicked. I’d never been to Layton, I’d never known anyone from Layton, and I couldn’t even guess which direction I’d have to drive to get to Layton. There is a tradition that men do not like to ask directions. I suppose this may be so for those who have some glimmer of confidence in their orientation skills. I had long since given up faith in mine. I would ask directions at a service station, and follow them until I reached another service station. Then I’d repeat the process until I was within a block or so of my destination. Occasionally, however, I would get to a station who didn’t know the location I was looking for. In such circumstances, I’d wander aimlessly through a city until I came across another service station – or if there was no such station around, I might stop at a grocery store, restaurant, or business office to ask if anyone knew the way to my location. My family knew about my disorder, so they were usually quite willing to help. Dad offered to drive with me to the girl’s house the night before the date, so I’d know how to get there.

When Friday night came, I was a bundle of nerves. This would be my first single date. I’d only gone on group dates before. On group dates, you can always count on someone to carry on the conversation. With single dates, I knew I’d have half the talking responsibility. I didn’t even know this girl. What if we sat there in awkward silence for half the date?
Just to make sure I would make it on time, and in case I got lost, I left 45 minutes earlier than I had to. As I left, I became conscious of everything. It was summer, and the air was hot and stuffy. This gave the inside of the truck a kind of muggy smell, and I wanted to be prepared to impress my date. So I stopped at a service station and bought a car freshener. I got in the truck, popped it out of the bag, and hung it on the rear view mirror. I had never bought a car freshener before, and I was pleased with my choice – forest pine scent. That should give the car a nice fresh atmosphere. I also rolled the window down to let the old air out. Soon I realized the wind was scuffing up my hair, so I closed it.

After a time, I found my eyes watering with the intense scent of pine. Were car fresheners usually this powerful? I snatched the thing off the mirror and set it on the floor. That helped a little, but just to be sure, I opened the window a crack.
To my surprise, I arrived in good timing, giving me 45 minutes to kill.

Perhaps if I’d known Layton better, I could have window shopped. But the risk of getting lost was too great, so I found a gas station, pulled around back, parked the truck, set my watch alarm to wake me, and tried to take a nap.
Next thing I knew, I opened my eyes and saw my date’s dad staring down at me through the window. “Getting a little sleep in, are we?”
“Uh, oh… hi! Yeah, I was just… I was a little tired.”

He laughed and returned to his car. I could tell this was going to be a grand evening. After that I couldn’t sleep.
By now, the car freshener was getting worse. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a green pine-scented mist emitting from the little tree. I fumbled through the truck till I found a plastic grocery bag to keep it in and stashed the chunk of aroma under the seat.
I showed up at Dalina’s door at exactly 6:00. I didn’t want to be early, in case her dad had told her about my gas station siesta, and I didn’t want to be late lest she thought I’d overslept the said siesta. We left without going inside first, for which I was grateful. No need to meet her father.

The date started out alright – you know, the typical awkward silences followed by one of us (me, in this case) asking a dumb question like, “So where did you go to high school?” I’ve only found one decent use for that question. You meet a girl, and would like to know her age, so you ask, “Did you go to Cyprus High?”

“No, I went to Highland.”

“Oh,” you reply, “what year did you graduate?”


Then you know she’s too old. Luckily this was not the case with Dalina. But on a first date, you thrive on smalltalk until you can grab onto something interesting to talk about.
Dalina had already mentioned that she was going to school, so I asked, “So what are you studying?”
Now I knew I was doomed. Not only was I on a blind single date, but I would be analyzed by an aspiring psychologist.
“What about you?”


“And what would you like to do with your degree?”

“I don’t know – maybe teach.”

“How do you feel about teaching?”

“Uh, okay, I guess. I think it might be fun.”

“And why is that?”

I know now why they call psychiatrists “shrinks.” I felt very small. I felt like I should be laying on a black couch, staring into a pastel light, she at a desk with a clipboard, saying, “Interesting. Very interesting.” I wondered if I should start making up a bunch of horrible things that happened to me as a child that made me what I am today – unfortunately nothing horrible ever happened to me as a kid. Maybe that’s what made me such a dull date. After awhile, I noticed her eyes were starting to moisten. Had I said something to upset her? Had I offended her before our date had really began. “Do you mind if I open the window?” She asked, “Your dad’s air-freshener is burning my eyes.”

I’d been planning on taking her to the Lion House Pantry on temple square, but unfortunately I had not checked their hours ahead of time. The sign on the locked door announced that dinner was served from 5 to 7. It was 7:15. Short of walking over to the mall food court, the only other place to eat nearby was the Garden restaurant at the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial building. Desperate to not look like a fool, I said, “Well, that’s alright, I figured we could go up to the Garden restaurant if this one was closed. Does that sound okay?”

“Whatever you’d like.”

I was certain she was doing a psychoanalysis on my decision-making skills. I was determined not to fail. “Let’s do it then.”

I wonder if she saw my bug-eyed expression when I looked at the price of the menu items. “Get whatever you want” I assured her, hoping she didn’t notice the crack in my voice.

It was a delicious meal, quite like home cooking – which made me wonder why we eat at such places. If we did make it at home, it would cost a tenth of the price, and might even make for a more interesting date. But I guess that would require a bit of cooking skills. I decided I’d best get some before going on another date.

After dinner, we had a tour of the conference center. Most of my early dates included a tour of the conference center. I probably could have provided the tour myself after a while, though that would have required a good deal more talking, which I wasn’t very good at.

After the tour I asked her if she’d like to go see a laser show at Hansen Planetarium. I hadn’t seen one in years, and I thought a date would be a good excuse to go. “No,” she replied, “I have lots of homework to do.”
So I took her home. I walked her to the door, and after an awkward moment at the step, I turned and headed back for the car. Thus ended my first single date. I guess it could have been worse. I could have fallen off the roof of the conference center or choked to death on a piece of chicken.
Driving home, I stopped at a service station and chucked the air freshener, riding the rest of the way with both windows down.

I took comfort in something someone once told me, and which I found to be very true in my own experience. It is simply this: all first dates go badly. The first time you go on a date with a girl, with very few exceptions, the date will not go well. Supposing that a first date is a forecast to the potential of the relationship is like saying 7th grade is a forecast of your academic future. Just imagine if that were the case. We’d probably have Olympic spit-wad flings, and the Nobel peace prize would probably go to the one who had shut the largest number of annoying kids in their lockers. Likewise, if everyone assumed that a bad first date meant there was no chance for the relationship, most people would never get married.

That was the last I ever saw of Dalina. A couple days later, Dad came to me saying that he was confused. “Greg said Dalina told him my car freshener was too strong. I don’t know what she’s talking about. I don’t have a car freshener.”