Last December, on a gray but bright Friday morning, I rolled out of bed earlier than normal to go on a breakfast date. Yes: I chose to walk out the door and into the cold about an hour before I normally would in order to have a cup of coffee with someone I’d never met. And you know what? I would highly recommend it. This particular morning’s date was with a fellow—let’s call him Jay— I’d met on Tinder. Over the course of the typical get-to-know-you conversation, it came up that breakfast was a big part of my life, and so instead of meeting for the first time over a drink or, god forbid, dinner, he asked if I wanted to meet him at a little cafe some weekday morning.
I was, I’ll admit, kind of impressed by the boldness of the question. A stranger believes I would say yes to his invitation to wake up early, trek out to meet him, and be capable of a nice enough conversation before a lot of people have hit the snooze button on their alarm clocks. But I was intrigued by a date outside of the tired “let’s meet at this bar after work!” formulation. And I appreciated the fact that this kind of date meant that I had a built-in exit strategy: if it wasn’t going well, I had the easy out of needing to get to work. There was reassurance in the essential brevity of a weekday morning coffee. You have places to be and so do they.
The plan was to sit down over some eggs or pancakes, but Jay and I got to the cafe before the breakfast menu was even available—and possibly before the barista was even awake. But we managed to get coffees and a couple pastries, and we grabbed a bright, white table in the back and got to it. The “it,” of course, is the small talk on first dates you usually only have to contend with at the end of the day, after you’ve had practice chitchatting with coworkers and bodega guys and can turn on the charm for this brand new person you’re trying to impress.
It sounds horrible. But it was fine. Better than fine, actually. We had a good conversation that just got better the more we woke up and got coffee refills. And when it got to the point in the morning where I needed to go to work—I was actually running late—I was sad to cut our conversation short. I didn’t think once about making my excuses early.
I can’t say a breakfast date would ever become my M.O. Even after such a positive experience, I rarely begin the day going out to breakfast with someone. But it was a nice change of pace. It was a relief not to yell a conversation at a crowded bar, or consider a credit card minimum, or touch up your lipstick in the office bathroom when really what you wanted to do at the end of the day is watch 30 Rock in your pajamas. It was nice to leave a conversation wanting to hear more about things, and not feel like you had exhausted your social stamina for the day.
If you’re anything like me, you’re not firing on all cylinders first thing in the morning, so the idea of chatting with a complete stranger over breakfast, and certainly before a caffeine fix, was not the most comfortable idea. But! The other person’s likely in the same boat as you—still bleary-eyed and shaking off dreams from the night before. And so there’s something instantly, sweetly companionable about sitting across from one another at a small table, trading easy questions about jobs and favorite bands while you warm your hands on your coffee cup and try to wake up together.