We’ve all been on bad first dates. When you think about them, are there any common themes? Below are seven things not to do on a first date. Whether you have chemistry or not, avoiding these things will make the date a better experience for everyone.
1. Talking about your ex/past relationships
If you’re talking about your ex in a positive light, it looks like you’re not over that person. And if you’re talking about your ex in a negative light, it looks like you’re not over that person — and likely somewhat bitter about it.
A few years ago, I went on a date with someone I had matched with on Tinder. He seemed nice enough — until he mentioned his ex-wife. I didn’t ask any questions about that relationship because it’s really not my business, and I encourage people to keep things light on the first date. Without any prompting, he proceeded to tell me a long list of negative things about her and how she made him miserable, in addition to telling me that she had a mental illness. A few thoughts immediately went through my mind:
People are also reading…
— He’s not over her.
— If he speaks that poorly of her, what would he say about me one day?
— He shares very personal information about other people with strangers.
I was certainly flattered that he felt comfortable enough to share this information with me, but it was completely inappropriate in that setting (at a bar, mind you). He also did not pick up on my cues to change the direction of the conversation. While he and I didn’t have enough in common to warrant another date anyway, the fact that he spent the majority of the date bashing his ex sealed the deal for me.
Some people think it’s fun to share sob stories. It’s not — at least not on a first date, when you should simply be seeing if you have rapport with someone.
2. Being late with no notice or being excessively late, even with notice
You’re running late. Things happen. Be kind enough to notify your date with ample time, if possible.
I once had a date that started at 3 p.m. I arrived at 2:59 and didn’t see him, so I texted to ask if he was inside. He replied at 3:04 that he was on his way. He arrived at 3:08 with no apology. I wouldn’t have cared at all that he was running late. But the fact that he didn’t tell me in advance — and didn’t apologize — was enough to make me annoyed. Remember that your time is no more valuable than anyone else’s.
3. Having your phone out or texting someone else
It’s rude, plain and simple. When you have your phone out, the other person assumes you’re looking for better plans or would jump to leave at the first ding of a text. For the duration of the date, try to put your phone away. (And “away” does not mean screen-side down. It means out of view.) An exception, of course, is if you’re expecting a call or text. Then, simply tell your date up front.
4. Talking about any one topic (especially work — or yourself) too much
If you talk about work the whole time, it feels like an interview. If you talk about yourself, you sound self-absorbed. Make sure the conversation is a give-and-take and it flows.
5. Being rude to a server — or anyone
Treat people kindly, no matter who they are.
6. Not tipping well
Be generous. Tip well.
7. Flipping the “off” switch if not interested
Sometimes you walk into a date, and you know within the first five minutes it’s not a match. That’s OK. It happens. But rather than running through your grocery list in your head during the date, try to stay present and engaged. You both made the time to be there, so it’s best to make the most of it, learn something, and try to enjoy yourself in some capacity.
Now that you know what not to do, it’s time to get dating. And don’t forget to smile!