The Austinite's Guide to Better Dating
Since moving to Austin in 2012, I’ve continuously heard my friends complaining about the dating scene here. Upset about flakey people, bored of the monotony of grabbing a drink with mediocre conversation and done with all the texting games, they wanted better. When I moved here, I had never really gone on dates with people I didn’t know before. I didn’t jump on that train until a couple of years later when dating apps became the norm. That’s when I started realizing I wasn’t meeting top-notch people either. After a few years of dating in Austin learned a lot and it got better...it wasn’t the men who sucked, it was the way I was meeting people that sucked. I wasn’t being direct, and clear on what I wanted. When I started dating with intention, I began meeting kind, thoughtful and fun people...one of those guys I’m still with.
This article is for people looking for a more serious partner and more than a hookup. There’s nothing wrong with that dating style it can definitely be fun, just giving you a heads up that’s not the intent of this piece. Also, I am heterosexual, so I am speaking from that experience, though I’m sure that much of this advice and date suggestions could help anyone looking to date more seriously!
My Experience Dating in Austin
In my early 20’s dating was a game to me, and I did not really understand the rules. I had my heart broken, my ego bruised and I’m sure I inflicted that on a few people myself. My friends had even worse stories...being ghosted out of a relationship and having men take them on lavish dates only to stick them with the bill. What was happening?! I was beginning to think all men were idiots until I had one confusing and short-lived relationship with a guy that left me thinking...what did I see in this person and why am I even upset it’s over? It’s when you snap out of the honeymoon phase and realize you were under a spell. I had to be honest with myself which led me to do the following steps.
Step 1: Be Honest With Yourself. What Do You Actually Want?
By the time I turned 26, I really started to implement goal setting in my life, and it was blowing my mind. It’s funny how when you envision something and set a step by step plan to make it happen, it usually does. This also happened to be when I was dating that guy I was talking about earlier...a guy that honestly couldn’t offer me what I wanted or needed. I had never identified what those things were and didn’t make it clear to myself before. I finally forced myself to think hard about this, and I set some dating goals. I wanted someone to motivate, and support me who was kind and honest. I didn’t want someone who yelled at me when I talked about other men or tried to make me feel guilty in the morning if I went to workout and left him in bed. We only dated about 3 months but how had it even gone that far?? As soon as I identified the things I really wanted, I knew I needed to write them down. Let's be honest, during a new relationship it’s easy to overlook many things that are important to you...that honeymoon phase can confuse you. If a guy directly tells you he doesn’t really want something serious...don’t pretend like you don’t care about that if you really do. If you want a significant other who checks in during the day or week, let them know! There’s something powerful and freeing about telling a guy what you are looking for…even if it is just via text message. Ask for what you want; most men I confronted liked the honesty.
Step 2: Create a List
After ending it with “Mr. Wrong for me” I created a list so I wouldn’t continue a relationship that didn’t serve me. I called the google doc “Quality,” and I would pull this list out every time I was dating a guy I started to really like. Funny story, about a month after dating my current boyfriend I pulled this list out and looked it over. I left it up on my computer and the next day we went on a road trip with some of my friends. We stopped to grab some tacos on our way out, and he asked if he could borrow my computer...he saw the list! I was mortified, but it didn’t seem to phase him...he renamed the document Quality mann...Mann being his last name. I attached part of it below.
Step 3: Stop Just Grabbing Drinks!
There was a pattern with my friends and me when we were using dating apps. You get really excited about dating. You go on a bunch of dates in a short period. You get burned out and say you’re done, only to get back on these apps 2 weeks later and repeat the cycle. In 2017 I made it a goal that I would date to find a serious partner. I had my list ready to keep me focused, but I felt like I needed something else; a better dating strategy. The majority of my dates involved grabbing a drink, but it didn’t resonate with me. I was trying to drink less at that time, growing my business, trying to network and become a better human. I didn’t want to make time just to grab a drink! So, I started inviting guys to events and activities I already planned on going to that week; it was a game changer. I stopped feeling I was wasting my time. I went on a hike in the greenbelt, listened to a speaker about affordable housing and tried a new dessert place I’d been hearing about. Dating became a lot more fun, and if I didn’t feel a real connection, I didn’t care as much because I was still out doing things I loved. This helped me change my attitude about online dating.
I created a go to “dating list” for my current partner and I and realize this would have been beneficial to have when I was online dating. So, I am sharing a list below full of different first date ideas beyond just grabbing a drink. Enjoy!
First Date Ideas: Click here to download a checklist
Hopefully, this sparks some more ideas! Feel free to send us your own ideas that we can add on.
Speakers & Learning Opportunities
What interests do you have? Real estate? Sustainable energy? Gardening? Politics? Do a little googling or search on Eventbrite, it’s crazy how many learning opportunities and speaker series there are in this town.
Free show with local vender food bites and wine tasting on the last Wednesday of the month April- September
Usually I wouldn't suggest going to a movie theatre on a first date BUT Master Pancake at the Alamo is a different movie experience. People are talking and cheering and laughing. It’s pretty great.
It’s BYOB so you can share a 6 pack if you’d like to have a little liquid courage. Also, P.Terry's is across the street and Lady Bird Lake Trail.
These are secret show series in Austin. I did this on a second date once...loved the music but not the guy. Still a great night.
Paddle Board Lady Bird Lake with Rowing Dock
I did this on a first date once and it was really fun, later I realized being in a bathing suit on a first date could be weird. Wear shorts and a shirt if it feels more comfortable.
This can get a bit crowded but I included it because it was part of me and my boyfriends first date and I had the best time. We went to dinner, something I usually avoid on a first date, and then to Unplugged at the Grove. We stood at the very back and enjoyed the atmosphere and talked the whole time.
Free Art in Austin--Amazing suggestions from our wonderful admin lead Erica
Blanton third Thursday dates free entry $5 pizza and wine
James Turrell- Skyspace free light show nightly, amazing installation on UT campus takes about an hour at dusk (same artist people travel to Marfa to see)
AMOA shows free periodic films on its roof w cash bar. It is usually a big scene with famous Austin architects and artists in attendance.
The art alliance posts a weekly list of gallery openings and closings that usually have drink and snack sponsors and happen multiple night a week.
Female run local trivia company that does theme trivia instead of random trivia. These ladies create a super fun atmosphere, and it is a great way to get competitive about a shared favorite show, movie, or pastime with a new date!
I did this once and realized later that I went into the woods with a stranger and his dog. Luckily, it was all good and I told my roommate where I was going. This is a fun option but just be careful.
Create Your Own Downtown Walking Tour
Hit the Austin library, lady bird lake trail and stop at a restaurant or for some ice cream.
Work out together
The Austin Bouldering Project offers free shoe rentals to first timers and is a great way to work up a sweat, try something new with someone new!
Austin Social Ride there are multiple social rides throughout the week in Austin check them out on Facebook events searching by the day. Between 20-200 Austinites meet up and ride together on a tour of bars and breweries getting in a workout and pint together.
Search on Facebook Events Page
There are so many events like this in Austin! Get on FB and search different events in town. Do you have a friend who is always going to the best events? Go to their profile and click events. You can see which ones they plan to go to and it may give you some fun ideas.
I can’t tell you how many times dating has made me feel bummed out and lost but I promise you if you implement some of these steps, it will get better! I know it can be hard to live in city that has so many things going on and people coming and going, it can seem like people aren’t looking for real connections. This isn’t true! If you start seeking out people in the right way and quickly disconnect with people who don’t share your values, you’ll find your people and you may find a great partner as well!
Kristina is a Realtor, real estate investor, meticulous self-learner, and a traveler. She focuses on helping her clients see the value in diversifying their investments through real estate and educating first-time homebuyers and sellers. She created HowToBuyaHouseInAustin.com and wrote a book on buying a house in Austin for first-time buyers. You can find her on Instagram at @Openhouse_austin or @Kmodares.