If you're on a first date, your heart is probably racing. And if your first date is on Valentine's Day, the stakes go up. Over Valentine's Day weekend, two NBN staffers went on dates and recorded their heart rates. It's all for science, of course!

Date 1:

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Or, as I wanted to think of it, just another regular Friday with the added benefit of a convenient excuse to ask a special someone on a date. That is exactly what I did, and although this wasn’t exactly a first date, the concept of a formal Valentine’s Day date was still a little too daunting for two people trying to keep things low key.

Maybe a bit ironically, we decided that a stay-at-home date would be the best way to spend the night. Call it romance, or just wanting to escape dining hall food for a night, but we decided to cook dinner together. On paper, this couldn’t really go wrong.

Of course, I didn't really believe that. I was nervous, and even the littlest of things made that even worse. Going to Whole Foods and buying salmon, for example, was terrifying. I’m an international student, and my first time grocery shopping in the U.S. showed me just how unaware I am of what a ‘pound’ is. Is it a lot? Is it too little? In the end, I settled for about 13 ounces. Shout out to the Whole Foods employee who assured me that’s about as much as two people will eat.

I wasn’t measuring my heart rate on that trip to Whole Foods, but it was probably much higher than my resting rate, which usually hovers around 60. In fact, throughout the date, my heart rate never fell below 75. Maybe I was a tad more nervous than I initially let on.

As for the night itself, things went smoothly. Checking my heart rate every 5 minutes or so wasn’t the most romantic thing ever, but it turns out that romance can come in a lot of ways. It’s the little moments of laughter, the run up four flights of stairs when you realize you forgot the garlic — peep the spike between 7:55 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. — and the contained laughter at a couple, sharing the kitchen with us, who were locked in a vicious struggle against their boxed pasta. I saw it in our attempt to remove an oven rack of fish, with no oven mitts or towels, and having both of us eat out of the same bowl. Kinda cute, not gonna lie. The food itself was actually very good, and although I’m biased, I don’t think the night could have gone any better.

Throughout the night, really, nothing too drastic happened to my cardiac rhythm. Dark chocolate for dessert was a good choice, but based on my very informal data, if you’re looking for a sure way to spike your heart, then ending the night with a kiss might just be the way to go.

Heart rate of NBN staffer on Date 1

Date 2:

Dates are jittery experiences, and Valentine’s Day dates emphasize this even more. To say I was nervous would be an understatement and a half. The date started around 6 p.m., which is where you can clearly see my heart rate rose to its highest point of the entire day. Looks like I’ve found a new way to burn calories.  

Unfortunately, the date didn't go so well; it definitely wasn't the classic Valentine's Day date where everything goes right, so my heart rate dropped down to the low 60s for the rest of the time, which is around my usual resting heart rate. It was a dinner date, and the spark just wasn’t there, which was quite clear to each of us as the conversation continued.

As a note to self and a general tip, Valentine’s Day dates can be a roll of the dice for relatively new relationships because of all of the expectations of a beautiful romantic evening that goes stunningly well. This is further compounded in the moment when you look around the restaurant and see a bunch of tables where it appears that such an ideal is occurring for them, but not for you. Basically, don’t go on a Valentine’s Day date unless your relationship is quite secure and/or you are prepared for it to not go well.  

Not even a delicious meal of steak and veggies was enough to bring the excitement back into my heart, but I guess that’s to be expected when you know that this date will probably be our last. We said our goodbyes after the meal was over and parted ways.  

The night was not all lost, however. My friends were there for me after what was honestly a pretty brutal Valentine’s Day, and they cheered me up immensely. I walked to a friend’s house for movies and laughs, which you can see from the next local peak in the data around 9 p.m. Overall, while the date wasn’t what I wish it could’ve been, the day as a whole was informative and in the end, happy.  

Heart rate of NBN staffer on Date 2

Article thumbnail: Clever Cupcakes from Montreal, Canada / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)