I don't know who needs to hear this, but there's a reason why walking dates are The Move. For one, they are completely free and inexpensive. This means zero stress about finding a restaurant or happy hour, zero stress about whether or not you'll need a reservation, and zero stress about who's paying.
It's also a very relaxed way to get to know someone if you're actually, legitimately interested in doing so. (And a great excuse to wear your leggings and tennis shoes on a date.)
"It's easier to be more of your authentic self when you are dressed casually because you feel more comfortable. You're also likely to get more of a sense of someone is when there are fewer distractions," says Kevin Darné, author of Pump Your Breaks! How to Stop Having Bad First Dates.
Oh, and no alcohol is involved, which means you'll be capable of acknowledging whether or not you actually like the person—without your drunk eyes inhibiting you.
Plus, "walking (and any exercise in general) is a natural mood-booster, so doing
this with a date will put both of you in better emotional states, which you are likely to attribute to the date going so well instead of the exercise," says clinical psychologist Isabelle Morley, PsyD.
Lastly, walking dates are pretty non-intimidating. Instead of sitting across from someone and making hella eye contact, you get to dive into conversations while side-by-side, which may make it easier to open up to your date.
Don't believe me? Take it from this writer below, who believes walking dates are simply le best for all the reasons above and more. Here's her story.
Our first few dates were all the same. There was this park almost exactly halfway between our apartments, so we'd meet there and walk big loops around it, talking as we went.
On the first walk, I got too excited about the warmer weather (above freezing for the first time in months) and wore just a T-shirt, so he lent me his big jacket. The second walk was because we were having one of those rapid-fire text conversations, and since the park was so close and all, we decided to continue the conversation in person. And on the third walk, we stopped during one of our laps to sit—in the middle of the football field like teenagers—where he kissed me for the first time while other people walked around us.
The relationship eventually ended after nearly a year, but those first few walking dates are still some of my favorites ever. They stood out among the do-you-wanna-get-a-drink-sometime? dates I was going on all the time, they didn't cost anything, and something about being able to look down at my own moving feet—instead of into a stranger's eyes or at my own drink—was very comforting.
Now, I swear by walking dates. What better way for two nervous people to get to know each other than talk while they do the thing they do every day just to get around?
Don't believe me? I have scientific backup. Technically, walking is exercise. And exercise produces endorphins, which make you feel good. And feeling good helps a date go better. Also, there's some belief that having serious conversations—like the kind you might have on a date—is easier if you're alongside a person, not face-to-face with them (and wondering how often you have to make eye contact).
This is to say nothing of the economic benefits of the walking date. Drinks cost money! Food costs money! Plus, do you really want to get into a "should we split this?" situation on a first or second date? No, you don't. That's for later, after you're probably already having sex, and have said so much stuff to each other that sitting silently in a movie date seems fine.
A walking date takes the pressure off of choosing a cool location, or getting too drunk, or eating something that makes you gassy. And you can go on a walking date any time of year. A walk on a warm summer night—the kind where your lower back gets a little sweaty—is intimate. A walk on a cool winter morning—maybe with coffee in hand—is cozy and romantic. Fall and spring were practically made to be walked around in, and to waste a date indoors during those two seasons would be dumb.
The benefits of walking dates are plentiful, and the opportunities for romance are endless. Sometimes your hands might brush up against theirs, and then maybe you end up holding hands. Or, other times, your date might lend you their jacket if you feel cold, and everyone loves to be lent a jacket. And on very rare occasions, you can have a standing-up kiss, like in the movies, then keep walking so you don't feel awkward afterwards, and so your date doesn't see your big, dopey grin.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.