Would you invite someone you barely know on an out-of-town trip for a first date? There’s so much that could go wrong: You could end up bored or annoyed with your date, wishing you had stuck with a casual coffee, drinks or dinner. Or … you could have the best weekend ever.
In Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix series, “Master of None,” the sixth episode, titled “Nashville,” involves such a bold move. When Denise (played by Lena Waithe) suggests that Dev (Aziz Ansari) and Rachel (Noël Wells) fly from New York to Nashville for their first official date, Dev is doubtful. “I dunno — a vacation for a first date?” Dev asks. “Isn’t that kinda nuts?”
But Denise is rather convincing: “That’s what’s so great about it,” she says. “Think about it like this: If you do the normal date dinner, then it’s like the next day you’ll be stressing out about ‘When should I text her?’ ‘What’s the next date gonna be?’ This way it’s like 10 dates in a row.”
Spoiler alert: Dev and Rachel do end up flying to Nashville for the weekend. They have a lot of fun; they also have awkwardness, silence — plus a pretty tense moment that demands resolution before they resume their regular lives in New York.
This episode got me thinking about the marathon date: Who goes on them, when are they useful and when are they a horrible idea? I spoke with Laurie Davis, founder of online dating consultancy eFlirt Expert, and she told me about how she flew from New York to meet someone for a second date in Napa about 10 years ago. She had a pretty casual approach about it, thinking more “this could be fun — let’s see what happens.”
What happened was she got a horrible cold, and her date had little patience for the fact that she wasn’t feeling 100 percent. “I tried to rally as much as I could,” she said, “but I was really sick.”
“That was the end of it for us,” she said.
Marathon dates like Dev and Rachel’s fictional one can be a lot of fun, Davis said, but it’s challenging to start a relationship that way. “There’s a reason things happen slower” in real life, Davis said. When you’re with someone new for a long period of time, “learning the smallest things could be a big deal,” she said. “You don’t really have a lot of time to digest the information you learn right away.”
Case in point: Dev discovers Rachel is a vegetarian right after they set foot in a Nashville barbecue joint. He reacts by immediately imagining his life with a vegetarian, meaning no “splitsies” whenever meat is involved. It comes off as a bit of an overreaction — probably because the revelation makes him realize they’ve taken a huge relationship leap while they barely know each other.
“When you’re on a first or second date, you don’t have that mentality of: ‘Let’s work through this together,’ ” Davis said. “Instead you’re trying to have a fun date. If those types of things happen, they seem like boulder in the way of having a good time — it’s something that kind of hinders the date.”
If you are bold enough to try a marathon date like Rachel and Dev’s, make sure to schedule some time apart — get coffee with a friend who lives in the city you’re visiting, or just wander on your own for a while. “It just breaks things up a little bit,” she said. “It will renew your energy with each other when you get back together. And it will take some of the pressure off.”
Third, don’t expect it to be off-the-charts awesome the entire time. “If you don’t go in understanding that, then it will seem really disappointing,” she said. “It’s going to feel different than a normal date — it’s going to feel different than three or four dates mashed together because it is such an intense experience.”
She also recommends staying a little closer to home than a two-hour plane ride like Dev and Rachel’s adventure. “The best way to have a marathon date is to do a day trip — that way it’s still an extended time together but not overnight,” Davis said. “If something does happen and you need to return, it’s not such a long extended period of time.”
Though Davis’s own Nashville-style date didn’t lead to something serious, she does think the marathon date can be useful. “Certainly it gives you a peek inside someone’s life and someone’s brain more than normal,” she said.