85 Fun Date Ideas for When You're Tired of Dinner and a Movie

From bowling and botanic gardens to cooking classics and flea markets.

Young couple are laughing and talking as they walk around a funfair on a date
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're tired of date clichés like dinners out, catching a movie, or hitting the bar, we get it—there's so much out there if you take the time to look. Cities have grown in their capacity to offer truly unique experiences, and if you don't live in a metropolitan area you can recreate some of these ideas at home. When you're trying to get to know someone (and you've gone on many first dates—no shame!), you may want an experience that feels natural, like taking a class together or trying a new activity. You'll both be out of your comfort zones and won't fall into those conversations that leave you yawning into your pasta at a local date spot.

A handful of these options take place in silence or give you ample opportunity to discuss what's happening around you—so even if the date doesn't work out, you get to have the experience regardless! Plus, you'll get to know a person even better by putting them into a situation they may not be used to, like cycling or going to an arcade. Ahead, 80 fun dates—including cheap date ideas for couples on a budget and at-home dates if you're stuck inside—to get you started.

Creative Date Ideas

couple at an art gallery looking at a painting

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you're a true art buff or just along for the ride, this one's a great quiet place for both of you to gauge each other's interests and conversational skills. Choose a fun, exciting gallery or photo exhibit that's not too obscure if you're anxious about not having enough to talk about.

Walk Around a Museum 

Similarly, museums have new or rotating exhibits—even if you've been before, there might be something new to see. They also have spaces to sit, eat, and chat, and potentially architecture or gardens that offer options to walk around. Museums are designed to spark engagement and conversation, which is perfect. At the very least you can laugh about not understanding the significance of everything.

Take a Cooking Class 

You’ll know right away if the relationship stands a chance once you find out who’s better in the kitchen. Approaching it from the right attitude—just have fun and be willing to make a mess!—means you'll have a blast.

Make Pasta Together

Carbs and a significant other? Sign us up. Sure, buying boxed noodles seems easier, but watching someone crank out some dough is an unspoken turn-on. (There, we said it.)

Go to Wine School 

You read that right: Not just wine-tasting, wine school. This will help you feel classy and cultured as you learn how to properly taste the beverage, differentiate between types, find what you like best, and, yes, drink some delicious wine. There's always something to discuss while you sip!

Meet Up for a Mixology Class

Learn how to craft your favorite fancy cocktail—or design an entirely new custom drink together—while taking a mixology class. You might even finally learn what all those accessories that came with the cocktail shaker on your bar cart are used for!

Set Up a Chopped Challenge

Bring out your competitive side and get creative in the kitchen by taking a page out of the Food Network’s book and crafting a Chopped-style challenge for you and your date. Pick a few random ingredients that each of you will need to incorporate into a dish of your choosing, set a time limit, and hit the kitchen. Once time’s up, do a taste test and score each other’s dishes on taste, presentation, and creativity—and remember, if all goes awry, you can always call in an emergency takeout order to eat instead while you laugh about your culinary fails.

Shop at a Thrift Store 

Hit up your local Goodwill to browse through the racks together. You could find your new, favorite gem. You could also make a game of it by giving each other 30 minutes to find the flashiest outfits to wear to dinner right after. Look at you being all fun and sustainable!

Visit a Flea Market

vintage shopping at a flea market

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you’re into vintage clothes and your date is into artisan furniture, or they’re into hand-crafted jewelry and you’re on the hunt for new artwork, there’s no doubt you could spend hours pursuing a flea market together. With various sellers and makers displaying their best goods for sale, from unique art and tchotchkes to thrifted threads, there would surely be many fun finds to look through together. Most cities have at least one frequent, recurring flea, or special pop-up at the very least; just be on the lookout.

Go Window-Shopping

If your area has a shop-lined street, go looking without making any impulse purchases. Start fun conversations by going into a wildly expensive store with things you can't afford or a knickknack store with random trinkets. These areas can be bustling around rush hour, with plenty to do and see (plus restaurants if all that perusing works up an appetite).

Go on a Scavenger Hunt 

Make like Leslie Knope and become a novice treasure hunter! One kind of global treasure hunt is called geocaching, some cities have formal hunts, and universities like MIT have competitive annual competitions. You could also take the stakes way lower by simply walking around to see if you can spot certain objects. It's like a hike, with a purpose!

Throw Yourselves a Mini Party 

Throw yourselves a themed bash (guests: the two of you!) featuring inexpensive decorations, some lights, and festive cocktails. You could try a kids' party theme, a luau, a '90s costume party, or something the two of you make up. If you want to expand it into double-date territory, great, otherwise make it the most exclusive party ever.

Get to Tie-Dyeing

There is a '70s fashion revival, so it's the perfect time for you and your date to jump in on the trend. Pick up a tie-dye kit at your local craft store, set it up outside, and go all out to see who can create the most colorful tee.

Find a Pottery Class

Get your hands dirty and make some art together—you can get to know each other while making a new addition for your home. So, even if the date is bad, you’ll at least feel like your time wasn't wasted. And if the vase looks ridiculous but the date went well, you'll have a funny story!

Check Out a Paint and Sip Class

If either of your creative skills are lacking, a class that tell you exactly what to paint and how to paint it may be up your alley. Bring along your favorite bottle of vino and laugh at each other's attempts at becoming Picasso.

Hit Up a Karaoke Bar

If it works for mandatory coworker bonding, it's worth a try for a fun stranger date. Even if you're not exactly Zooey Deschanel in the vocals department, it's more about enjoying the moment and showing your personality. Be sure to ask first before you spring it on them, though.

See a Local Band Perform

You don’t need tickets to an arena show or a sold-out tour coming through town to see great live music. Support a local artist or band and an independent music venue by checking out a concert from your hometown scene. You and your date can chat between the sets, and years from now you might be able to say, “I saw them perform before they were famous.”

Take in a New Art Form

If you feel like you’ve exhausted all the typical “show” options for dinner-and-a-show dates, it might be time to get a little artsy-fartsy. Rather than heading for the movie theater, comedy club, or concert arena, mix things up by taking in a ballet performance, a modern dance recital, a play, or classical music, then put on your best art critic berets and discuss the meanings of the performance.

Speak at an Open Mic

It's one thing to attend a poetry reading or comedy show, it's quite another to get up and bare your soul to a group of strangers. Granted, this one's not for people who get stage fright. If that's the case, you can sit and cheer while your date takes the plunge.

Active Date Ideas

Go Rock Climbing

couple goes rock climbing on a rock climbing wall

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you both have an appetite for adventure and want to undergo the ultimate dating "survival test," there's nothing quite like being suspended from great heights on a harness while you're clinging for dear life to do it.

Go Bowling 

Whether you're a strike machine or a 10-pin novice, bowling alleys are a lot of fun, from the beer and cheap pizza to the rush of that first strike. Set up the bumper guards to avoid embarrassment or go no-holds-barred for a competitive match. Just go easy on each other if one of you is better.

Ride Bikes 

Get some fresh air and ride some bikes together. It’s the perfect intro to part two of your date: a picnic in the park (keep reading)—where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy each other’s company. And the food will be worth it because you exercised!

Take a Run Around Town

If you and your new date are the athletic sort, what better way to bond than through a shared passion? For anyone hoping for a more low-key activity, trying an exercise class, hitting the gym, or even walking at a decent pace can all fit the bill.

Go for a Skate

Not all roller skaters were born with balance, but taking a risk with a roller skating date can take the seriousness out of a first date that typically involves wining and dining. A few falls later and you'll both be a whole lot closer, if a bit bruised.

Take Dancing Lessons

Sign up for an hour of dancing lessons where both of you are beginners. Even if your partner has two left feet, you'll be bonded by learning a skill together. Stay for the all-couple dance session afterward once you're starting to get the hang of it, or retire elsewhere for a bite to eat.

Go Out Dancing

No dance lessons are required to groove on the dance floor at a local club. Once you two have gotten to know each other, you might have a blast showing off your moves under the light of a disco ball. See live music and boogie to the beat, look up what bars have a DJ spinning their selects, or impress your date by following local DJs in your area and taking them to one of their parties.

Go Axe Throwing 

Not only is this an out-there date idea, but it's a great stress reliever too. There's just something about throwing a heavy axe at a wooden target that makes us forget about our worries and act as if we were on a one-on-one Bachelor date.

Go Horseback Riding

We got to love those Bachelor dates! To emulate some fairy tale romance, spend a day at the stables riding trail horses for the afternoon. If neither of you have much equestrian experience, take a couple of laps around the paddock before trotting out into the wilderness

Play Mini Golf

Even though you're way past the age for miniature golf, the low-stakes game allows for some lighthearted fun without feeling like you need to be competitive (and if the other person gets a little crazy about it, that'll probably tell you a lot). Plus, the yawn-worthy pace of golf means you can chat and play without interruption.

Try Sky-Diving

Another date that sounds like it's straight out of The Bachelor, impress your thrill-seeking date with one of the coolest activities out there. You could also trade it out with another heights-heavy activity like bungee jumping, but it'll immediately establish you as the coolest first date ever. Plus, it'll be hilarious if you're both getting over your fear of heights together.

A Day of Light Sports and Games

If you're not into the traditional first date thing, take a lighthearted sports bar approach to the date night with an outdoorsy game of badminton, beach volleyball, or pickleball. This can also be a blast as a group activity.

Play Shuffleboard

Shuffleboard is a classic bar game, but you haven’t really played until you’ve made your way to a shuffleboard court. If there’s a shuffleboard club in your city, booking a court will make for a lively night, as you use tangs (shuffleboard's official term for cues) to move biscuits (the discs) down the 52-foot-length court where you face off in a friendly competition. If you go with friends or another couple, the two of you could also form a team and show off your skills as a unit.

Yoga in the Park 

Put on your workout clothes and head to the park for some fresh air and relaxation. Partner yoga positions are always the move, and you can get to know each other in more ways than one(!). Plus, they'll have a new respect for how hard yoga is.

Go Ice Skating

Bundle up and support your local ice skating rink. Learning or teaching (you little pro!) someone a new thing helps bring people together, so get ready to watch the sparks fly. Don't forget to grab some hot chocolate after!

Play a Round of Laser Tag 

No, laser tag is not just for 13-year-olds at birthday parties. It's a great way to have some friendly competition on a date and it's a fun way to work up a sweat. Up the ante with a little wager: The loser has to buy the first round of drinks.

Fun Date Ideas

Play Arcade Games

couple on a date at an arcade playing an arcade game

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For those with a short attention span and an adventurous spirit, get to know your date over an adrenaline-racing round of arcade games. Play up your competitive side or join forces as a team against another pair with a game of foosball. And, if you're terrible at games like me, play a couple rounds then cheer your date on as they're crushing it.

Go to a Carnival 

Appeal to your inner child by buying tickets for a carnival. It may seem cliché, but embrace the cheesiness—share cotton candy, let them try to win you a prize and ride a roller coaster if you've got the stomach for it. It's a great way to get to know each other while having fun at the same time and talking about your memories of childhood.

Ride Some Roller Coasters

If you're both thrill-seekers, an amusement park is a great way to spend a day. Just think of all the deep convos you can have standing in line for rides. Plus, roller coasters and games have a way of bringing out the fun side of people.

Try Out an Escape Room

You'll find out just how compatible you and your date are in a matter of minutes in an escape room. The two of you will have to work together to solve riddles and uncover clues to discover the secret of the room. These can be seriously fun, or seriously infuriating, depending on who you're with, so proceed with caution.

Walk Around the Zoo

Show off your knowledge of your favorite animals at your local zoo. Not only is it a sure way to get your steps in, but it's a fun way to spend time outdoors. Plus, you can always use the excuse of the chilly penguin house to cuddle up to your date.

Sample Treats at a Food Festival 

Big holidays like Chinese New Year and annual food festivals are excellent opportunities to sample bites while you get to know someone. All the various food options and the mingling in a crowd will give you a good chance to survey how adventurous and adaptable the other person is, too. Bonus: You might find a new place for an upcoming dinner date.

Book a Food Tour

Instead of pairing your dinner with a show, make the meal itself the entertainment. Either sign up for a local food tour around your city—whether organized around a specific neighborhood, cuisine, or historical event—or build your own, complete with score sheets, to look for the city’s best doughnut, dumpling, or slice of pizza.

Go Get Sundaes

Don't just walk to get ice cream—lean in. Compete to see which of you can craft the most delicious/ridiculous concoction, then race to eat them before they melt. Bonus points if you can make something your date wants more than their creation.

Watch a Local Sports Game 

Sure, it's fun to watch your city or state's team play, but try a sport you guys have never watched or supported before—like netball or rowing, for instance. Local colleges and universities often have games open to the public, and there should be enough space to sit, watch, and listen to yourselves talk while you cheer (and try to explain the rules of the game to each other).

Seek Out a Pool 

In the warmer months, this could mean a roof deck with a water feature, in the winter it could mean a jacuzzi or splashing around in a public pool. But if you're hanging out poolside, it's a relaxing and chill vibe. If you're diving in (pun intended) with bathing suits on, that could be quite sexy, right? Just make sure your date's up for it before you go.

Go to the Beach 

Whether you live by an ocean, lake, or body of water, a day out on the sand is always a calming date spot if the weather's playing nice. If you're feeling it, rock a two-piece and offer to apply sunscreen. Soak in some sunshine near the water and as the day draws to a close, take a romantic stroll with the setting sun as an Instagram-worthy backdrop.

Watch an Outdoor Movie Screening

There are plenty of open-air venues like parks and rooftops that you can visit during warmer months; even better, many have old, classic movies or shows. The shared atmosphere and classic flick are a perfect combo.

Go to a Drive-In Movie Theater

couple on a date at a drive in movie theater

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It may be a bit of a drive, but the chances are you live less farther than you might expect from a drive-in movie theater. These throwback establishments still screen new releases and tend to play retrospective titles, but it’s as much about the experience as it is about the movie. It’ll be a kitschy-cute time tuning the radio or setting up the sound device in your vehicle, making your seats or trunk especially cozy, and curating the perfect menu of snacks.

Attend an Outdoor Concert

This one's a definite time commitment, so you might want to get to know each other over a drink or meal before going for this option. But the perks of an outdoor show, especially if you both love the band, are the good vibes. If there's space on the lawn, pack a blanket, or you can get up close and personal in the pit.

Go to a Burlesque or Drag Show

These acts are designed to be entertaining, sexy, or laugh-out-loud funny. The scene is loud and boisterous, and the food and drink scene is usually fun, too. It's like the old dinner and a show—but make it cool.

Support the Local Arts

It's pretty much a guarantee that you'll find a local play, poetry reading, dance troupe, or other public event to attend—and it's supporting local culture, even if it doesn't end up being your cup of tea.

Go to a Comedy Show

Sharing a few laughs is one way to become closer to your date. Head to your favorite comedian's show or pop in at an open mic night for some lighthearted fun. If the two of you are feeling brave, sit in the front row and maybe you'll get picked on for a few jokes at your expense.

Head to the Aquarium 

No ambiance is more romantic than the hush of a soft-lit aquarium. Stroll through the darkened rooms while you point out your favorite creatures behind the glass. Some aquariums offer interactive educational exhibits and teach guests eco-friendly ways to clean up the ocean, so you'll feel like you got something out of it.

Take a Ferry Ride

The length of a 30-minute ferry ride from one locale to the other is the perfect bite-sized date option for people who don't want to have to drag things out over dinner or drinks. It's a good chance to get fresh air and assess whether you might want to go on a post-excursion drink or coffee.

Take a Boat Tour

If you'd rather see things from the water, be it a water taxi or duck boat tour, this can be a fun date option (and some boats offer cocktails, as another plus!). This requires a sizable body of water, so the landlocked may want to consider kayaking or fishing at a local lake.

Attend Trivia Night at a Local Bar

Combine powers to form a dream team at trivia night. You'll laugh as you rack your brains for city names and bond over your knowledge of obscure horror films. Plus, drinks are usually on the house if you end up winning.

Go to a Brewery 

One great all-season date for booze lovers is a brewery tour. You can sip on the latest IPAs and ciders while getting to know each other—it's a win-win. The same goes for a winery or cidery: Most places know the key is a killer ambiance.

Find a Board Game Bar

Board game bars are popping up everywhere these days. Snag a table, order a round of drinks or some bites to eat, and settle in for some friendly competition. It’s up to you whether you introduce each other to your childhood faves or learn the rules of a new game together—then prepare for victory at the next couples game night you’re invited to.

Have a Game Night

Switch up your plans to stay in by breaking out your favorite board games, or even a deck of playing cards. There are always new games on the market, too, so you could each come prepared with something that sounds fun to you and give both of your suggestions a try. Game night is also a cost-effective way to hang out with other couples and friends; splitting up pairs could even make for some playful competition.

Work on a Puzzle 

Call us old-fashioned, but nothing is more relaxing than putting together a 500-piece puzzle with someone. The conversation flows, and if you run out of stuff to talk about, you can hold up a piece to ask where its counterpart is. BOOM, instant conversation. There are dozens of chic puzzles available nowadays, and you could even gift your date one that reflects their interests.

Play a Video Game

Channel your inner gamer and face off in a video game tournament. The two of you could introduce each other to your favorite games, so you each have the opportunity to whoop the other one and play something new.

Volunteer Locally 

If you both have a cause you support (or if a place nearby needs your help), consider signing up to volunteer. There'll be plenty to keep you busy, you'll feel like your time went to good use, and you may even bond over the experience.

Go on a (Mini) Vacation

For those who love to travel but don't want to (or can't) go far, take a bus or a train an hour away to see the local sights and escape your daily routine. Treat it like a real vacay, with fun local snacks and sightseeing. Even though it's just a skip and a jump away, it's like a whole new world.

Go on a Ghost Tour

There's nothing like some collective scares to bring people together. If your town has some history, there's a good chance there's a local guide to share the town's local haunts. A ghost tour under the stars may sound eerie to some, but to fright-lovers, it's an ideal first date.

Ride on Scooters

If your town has a scooter, consider yourself lucky. Not only are they a cheap and easy way to get around town, but they would also make for an exciting date. Scooter rentals exist, as well, so you could go for a joy ride or use one en route to your next date destination in style.

Go to IKEA

You may think, "Why would I go to a furniture store?" But this isn't just any old furniture store. It's IKEA! No one has ever sighed before telling someone they were making their merry way to the famous Swedish furniture store. Also, it has a food court with some incredible cake, which is great after a day of picking out your dream space.

Cute Date Ideas

Stargaze Together 

two people stargazing

(Image credit: Anthony Sabatino / EyeEm / Getty Images)

You + the great outdoors + your date who you pray is into this as much as you are = the perfect date. Don't forget to bring a comfy blanket, snacks, and have a chill playlist for your evening under the stars.

Enjoy a Bonfire

If either of you have a yard, then you're set to have a romantic evening under the stars. Grab some firewood, smores, blankets, and lawn chairs, and chat around a bonfire. It's a cheap way to get to know someone, and who doesn't love the smell of a bonfire?

Pack a Picnic

Keep it simple with a stroll through the park followed by a picnic lunch on the green. Pick out your favorite frozen treats from an ice cream vendor, and chat while you hang out in the grass. You can even people-watch while you're at it. The best part? It's cheaper than an expensive dinner.

Peruse a Farmers Market

Feel sustainable and healthy (and maybe pick up something for dinner) as you walk by stands of gorgeous fruits, vegetables, and locally made goods. If you've never been, it's also a way to educate yourselves on what's in season and what cool local vendors have delicious stuff you can add to your meal rotation.

Go Fruit Picking

As long as it's not winter, there's likely a farm nearby where you can stroll along and pick fruits like berries, apples, and even pumpkins. Help each other pick the best fruit over great convos then enjoy a cup of cider or two. If the date goes well, you can even head home to bake yourselves a pie.

Bake a Sweet Treat Together

Enjoy a sweet with your sweet! While you could go out for dessert, you could also take a trip to the grocery store, source all the ingredients for a recipe, and spend an afternoon or evening in the kitchen whipping up something delectable. Baking lava cakes in ramekins would be the perfect dish for two, cookies are always reliable, or there’s always the option of baking a cake and decorating it together once it’s out of the oven.

Make Like Tourists in Your Own Neighborhood

Pick a couple of nearby landmarks or activities and commit to experiencing them like you don't live there. Embarking on a local trip will make for a unique shared experience and give you the fun feeling of "discovering" your area for the first time. Fanny pack optional.

Restaurant Hop

If you’re near one of their locations, Eataly is the perfect place to explore and eat some great food. If not, try and find some local food trucks to get a taste (or two or three) of what they enjoy. Instead of settling in and only experiencing one place, hopping around can make for some fun discussion.

Share Your Favorite Spot

Is there a beautiful mural you love by your home? The perfect place to watch the sunset? That little hole-in-the-wall bakery with the best donuts? Take a walk and share the little details you love about your area, and encourage the other person to do the same.

Go to a Planetarium 

The hushed atmosphere of a planetarium combined with the dark room makes for an ideal ambiance for a first date. Spend an evening gazing at the stars and learning about the constellations, with lots of hand-holding potential.

Tour a Botanical Garden

There's no better place to explore on a date than the pretty manicured lawns and gardens of a botanical garden. Pro tip: Plan to go later in the day or after the summer rush if you don't want to sweat in a greenhouse at mid-day. If they allow food, this can also be a perfect picnic spot.

Get an Astrology Chart or Tarot Reading

Good vibes only. This would be a memorable experience, whether you're an avid follower of astrology and the supernatural or not. Embrace whatever energy comes from the reading, and perhaps learn more about your date's personality (and whether or not you're wasting your time!).

Peruse a Bookstore

When you're both book nerds, a day spent browsing your local bookstore is the ideal setup to get you bonding over your favorite titles. It also allows you to give each other suggestions on what to read next. Just making sure you're not getting too lost among the shelves that you're not paying attention to your date.

Watch the Sunrise

This may not be for everyone (a person who doesn't like getting up early, for example), or for every time of year, but there's something magical about trucking out together in the early morning to watch the sky change color. Bonus: Go to brunch after.

Find a Gorgeous View

Whether your city has a Ferris wheel, observation deck, or another sky-high view, find a location that helps you see your area from a new perspective. That could be traveling a few miles out or even just going to a roof deck to help you look at things in a new way together.

Head to the Spa

Get solo or couples' massages! Chill out in the jacuzzi! Hang out in the sauna! There's much to do here, especially after a long, exhausting day. Just ensure you're both at the same level of comfort (maybe one of you prefers a non-nude spa, you know?).

Attend an Open House

Have you ever walked by an open house of a beautiful building and thought, It must be so gorgeous in there. Go see how the other half lives, ogle some stunning decor, and talk about what you like and don't like. Best case: It might be useful later on! Worst case: cool architecture, and you don't have to talk much.

Meet Furry Friends at a Cat Cafe

Why drink coffee at a regular cafe when you can drink coffee at a cat cafe? Sip on your espresso drink of choice while surrounded by cute, cuddly cats. Who knows? Maybe one of you will head home with a new furry friend.

Head to the Dog Park

Take your furry friend out to the dog park for some much-needed playtime. You'll both get a kick out of watching the pups and your dog will love the chance to expel some energy. It's a win-win. Don't have a dog? Sneak in before someone calls you out on it.

Katherine J. Igoe
Contributing Editor

Katherine’s a contributing syndications editor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle. In her role, she writes stories that are syndicated by MSN and other outlets. She’s been a full-time freelancer for over a decade and has had roles with Cosmopolitan (where she covered lifestyle, culture, and fashion SEO content) and Bustle (where she was their movies and culture writer). She has bylines in New York TimesParentsInStyle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Her work has also been syndicated by ELLEHarper’s BazaarSeventeenGood Housekeeping, and Women’s Health, among others. In addition to her stories reaching millions of readers, content she's written and edited has qualified for a Bell Ringer Award and received a Communicator Award. 

Katherine has a BA in English and art history from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in art business from the Sotheby's Institute of Art (with a focus on marketing/communications). She covers a wide breadth of topics: she's written about how to find the very best petite jeanshow sustainable travel has found its footing on Instagram, and what it's like to be a professional advice-giver in the modern world. Her personal essays have run the gamut from learning to dress as a queer woman to navigating food allergies as a mom. She also has deep knowledge of SEO/EATT, affiliate revenue, commerce, and social media; she regularly edits the work of other writers. She speaks at writing-related events and podcasts about freelancing and journalism, mentors students and other new writers, and consults on coursework. Currently, Katherine lives in Boston with her husband and two kids, and you can follow her on Instagram. If you're wondering about her last name, it’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.

With contributions from