Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Coffee (Dates) - An Awesome Social Bonding Tool
I'll be honest, even though I never drink coffee, I still harbour a soft spot for a cup or two when I'm tired or when I'm, obviously, eating a piece of banana bread. Ever tried having coffee with banana bread? It's heavenly. For some odd reason, when I drink coffee with banana bread, the coffee doesn't taste like dirt. Interesting.
While drinking coffee isn't a particular habit of mine, I do know people who are total, utter slaves to morning coffee. Seriously, I have co-workers who can't function in the morning without that steaming, must-have cup of cream & sugar goodness. They just can't start their day without it.
But as we continue to build and maintain the relationships we have with others, I think an important thing to keep in mind is that coffee can function as way more than a morning pick-me-up. Coffee (or any other type of drink found in our local coffee shops, if we choose) can help us in ways beyond physical satisfaction. The concept of The Coffee Date is so often used as a super effective social bonding tool to catch up with friends, go over the latest study & lecture notes, and of course, it can be the sly opportunity to meet with and get to know your potential crush in a casual, relaxed setting. Romance has been known to brew (get my pun? hah) and develop over coffee, so let this be a little lesson for those hesitant to invite a secret crush to an hour of chatting at your local, trusty Tim Horton's. Wink wink.
Coffee dates serve a variety of purposes. But they all consist of the same important theme of bonding by using coffee (or coffee shop drinks) as the bridge to build and maintain a relationship. Let's take a look...
1) The Coffee Date As A Catch-Up Mechanism
I love coffee catch-up dates with friends. My schedule can get pretty hectic, from a full-time job, volunteering, band practice, tutoring, and other extra-curriculars I'm involved with. And I know many of my friends also juggle a number of priorities every week. That's why I love sitting down over a steaming cup (of coffee, tea, whatever we choose) and talk about what's going on with us, despite how busy we may be. Coffee dates have allowed me to keep in touch with friends from high school, hang out with friends in university despite the lack of having classes together, and its allowed me to catch up with friends who I don't see on a regular basis.
It's also the perfect opportunity to continue getting to know a new friend. Catching up periodically helps to maintain and strengthen a new friendship with people you've recently met at work, at school, or through other friends. And honestly, the bottom line is that "catching up" is so important for our relationships with others, especially when we're all so busy and preoccupied with life in general. Sitting down with a good friend to talk about the life that consumes us is one of the nicest, relaxing things we can do, and doing so maintains or builds a bond with people we've grown to care about very much.
2) The Coffee Date As A Study Session
I love studying and reading in a coffee shop. I don't know why, I just do. Especially during the holiday season when Christmas music is playing and all the lights are up. Oh yes, I do love parking myself in the middle of Starbucks or Tim Horton's while reading a good article or book. Even though the hours I spend there end up leaving a pretty strong scent of coffee beans and biscotti on my hair, clothing, and jackets when I leave (What? Nothing shampoo and a spritz of Febreeze can't get rid of).
But coffee dates with study buddies can actually serve as a perfect opportunity to 1) actually study and learn some pretty good information and more importantly, 2) get to know other classmates. Hanging out beyond the tutorial room or lecture hall setting fosters a more relaxed rapport between classmates. It sets the way for conversation that doesn't have to relate to school, to how much our TA annoys us, and to how much we love (or hate) our professor. And while these types of conversations can still occur in a lecture setting, I don't think it can compare to the atmosphere coffee dates or coffee shops provide. And once you're all done going over lecture notes and study guides, you'll have the opportunity to chat, to bond, and perhaps hang out somewhere else without school priorities hanging over your head. And voila, you've made a new friend. :)
3) The Coffee Date As An Actual Date
Disclaimer: The following comments on the coffee date as An Actual Date with romantic connotations are results of what I've witnessed from reactions and experiences of friends and people I know. They aren't generalizations and don't have to apply to everyone. But let the following briefly serve as an indication of The Coffee Date's casual atmosphere in comparison to the scary, romantic outings that some people may be super scared of!
So here we go. Hello, Boys (Guys, Men, etc.) reading my blog, I'd like to let you know that contrary to any of your fears, from what I've seen, girls don't tend to turn down an invitation for a coffee date. Unless she thinks you're a major creep (or douche, whatever), I actually think you have a pretty good chance. Hey, Girls (Women, Chicks, etc.) reading my blog, I want you to know that it isn't the end of the world to ask a guy out for coffee. You don't have to wait around for days (months, years, if its to your liking) for an invitation to Tim Horton's. Please. It isn't that big a deal to ask him first.
Here's why. I think coffee dates aren't as much a major date setting compared to, say, dinner & a movie. It's a lot more casual, relaxed, and a type of meeting you can run easily away from if the date quickly turns into a hot mess. And if you end up having absolutely zero chemistry and nothing in common, you can both gulp down your coffee/hot chocolate/tea/whatever and hurry out of there with various excuses (I have to go to work, I have to go make dinner, I have to walk the dog, etc.), which is something you can't easily do during a movie or dinner.
Coffee dates can be an awesome time to get to know your potential romantic interest. And you don't even have to dress up! You learn things about them you didn't previously know about, you get to know each other better, and its a casual opportunity to check on your compatibility, chemistry, and potential for a more "major" type of date like dinner & a movie, maybe lunch, or dinner & a museum (Sorry, I'm running out of ideas for type-of-date examples, lol. And if you're wondering who in their right mind would spend a date at a museum, I actually would, my nerdiness takes over everything, I know!)
So for those still contemplating that seemingly life-or-death-decision on whether to ask someone you may be interested in for coffee, I say to go for it. As another plus, coffee dates are so casual that your relationship won't suffer too much awkwardness if you don't progress into something more than friends. Good luck to all. ;)
Overall? Coffee (dates) can help us in a number of ways. They build friendships, maintain friendships, create relationships, among other things. And ultimately, in this busy life of ours, and as we continue to grow up and potentially go our separate ways (to grad school, to a new job, to a new city, to a new country), the concept of coffee as something to bond over is so important in order to keep in touch and maintain the relationships we have with each other, romantic or otherwise.
"Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends."
- Richard Bach in Illusions