Want to Feel More Comfortable and Confident? Go On A Side By Side Date

Want to Feel More Comfortable and Confident? Go On A Side By Side Date

Skip face to face...for now
side by side date suggestions

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Jul 17 2023 | 7 min read

The dating guide Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus hit the bestsellers charts way back in 1992, but it feels like we’re still trying to figure out how best to communicate with each other.

One big example? Men’s preference for side by side interactions versus women’s tendency towards face to face interactions.

What are face to face interactions

If Beale Street Could Talk
photo: If Beale Street Could Talk, 2018

Face to face interactions involve direct communication where individuals are physically facing each other, engaging in conversation, and maintaining eye contact. 

Does that sound awful? You might be a man! 

This type of interaction—think: sharing a meal seated across from one another—emphasizes verbal communication, emotional connection, and deepening understanding through dialogue, and women love ‘em. 

Face-to-face interactions are essential for building emotional intimacy, expressing feelings, and engaging in meaningful conversations.

What are side by side interactions

Southside with you
photo: Southside With You, 2016

The thought of that much eye contact can also make a lot of men want to run for the hills. Which is why many guys prefer side by side interactions.

These kinds of exchanges emphasize shared experiences and activities rather than direct conversation. 

In side by side interactions, individuals are physically positioned—you guessed it—next to each other. 

Think: playing video games, or grabbing a drink at a bar. 

Whether it’s bonding over a game on tv, going on a miles-long bike ride, or just hitting the head, men often build relationships through joint endeavors. They allow you to enjoy another person’s presence without the pressure of constant conversation.

The world-renowned game designer and New York Times bestselling author Jane McGonigal refers to this type of playing alone together as “ambient sociability.” The bonding comes through the shared experience, not what you say and how you say it. 

Obviously, these gender-based tendencies in side-by-side and face-to-face interactions are not absolute. And both types of interactions can be meaningful in building intimacy! 

So here’s the life hack:

Because side by side interactions feel more comfortable for men, choose to ask a woman out on a “side by side date” instead of a face to face date.

If sitting directly across from a woman at a high top table at a bar feels like you’re being interrogated by the police, choose to sit side by side at the bar instead. (My favorite spot to sit is actually the corner so you’re tilted towards one another but not always looking right at the other person).

Like knowing the way you prefer to receive (and give!) love, better understanding the nuances in how we express ourselves and connect with others can help big-time in dating. 

The tl;dr? Play to your strengths, guys!

Because us women are sophisticated communicators, we can get on your side by side level and still learn about you and connect. The face to face interactions can come later on once you’ve established a rapport and feel comfortable with one another.

Below, 6 side by side dates men can suggest to women they’re taking out:

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
photo: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 2003

Attend a game 

Doesn’t matter what kind. Women’s soccer. Minor league baseball. A Harlem Globetrotters match. Any kind of sporting event makes for a great side by side date because you can chit chat when you want, and then pay attention to the game during lulls in conversation.

Actually, let me amend that.

It doesn’t matter so long as neither of you are all that invested in the outcome. Do not take a first or second date to your alma mater’s March Madness play-in game. You will not make for good company.

And it should go without saying, but…do not explain the intricacies of the sport unless she asks. Like Ted Lasso, she does not have to understand what off sides means, and it won’t make her like you more to prove you can define it.

julie and julia cooking side by side
image: Julie & Julia, 2009

Cook Together

Take a cooking class, or experiment with a new recipe at home. The collaborative effort of creating a meal to share will build teamwork and intimacy. And of course, there’s the added bonus of getting to enjoy the fruits of your labor when you’re done.

before sunrise side by side date
image: Before Sunrise, 1995

Explore the great outdoors

The “let’s go for a hike” date is a lowkey winner. Explore a local trail and revel in the beauty of nature. It’s a great opportunity to get your steps in while creating memorable – even instagrammable – moments together.

Note that any type of physical activity on a date should feel fun and recreational. You are not racing, no one is trying to “win” so make sure you’re moving at a pace where both parties can still easily converse.

Ghost side by side
photo: Ghost, 1990

Unleash your inner artists

Tap into your creative side and visit a museum. Bonus points if you sign up for a guided tour because 1) you’ll show you’ve planned ahead, and 2) you don’t have to worry that you’ll just wind up wandering around. 

You could also head to a pottery or art studio for a beginner’s class. I personally am cripplingly un-creative, so the one time I went to a Color Me Mine studio I almost had a panic attack, so just gauge if this seems “fun” to your date before booking.

Peeta and Katniss standing side by side in The Hunger Games
photo: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 2013

Volunteer Together

Matched on a dating app? Her profile may have given a hint as to what she’s passionate about. If so, find a cause that resonates with both of you, whether it’s a local animal shelter, a community garden, or a charitable organization and spend an hour or two volunteering your time together.

It’s definitely different than your standard date, and you’ll automatically have something to talk about in your follow-up interactions.

Save the Last Dance side by side
photo: Save the Last Dance, 2001

Learn Something New

Attend a local workshop, or guest lecture at a bookstore or college. Make sure you sneak in candy to so that even if the speaker turns out to be a dud, you still create shared (side by side) memories.


The bottom line? Leveraging men’s comfort zone of side by side interactions in the dating realm can help you forge deeper connections, create shared experiences, and cultivate relationships that transcend conventional boundaries.

When it comes to face-to-face interactions, women often exhibit a remarkable ability to effortlessly navigate the world of conversation and emotional expression. Through face-to-face engagement, women cultivate intimacy, employ verbal cues, and delve into the depths of their feelings. 

These interactions provide a platform for women to create profound emotional connections, express vulnerabilities, and foster an environment conducive to empathetic understanding.


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