We’ve all had bad first dates. Are there common themes when you think about it? Below are seven things not to do on a first date. Regardless of whether you have chemistry or not, avoiding these things will make the date a better experience for everyone.
1. Talk about your previous/former relationships
When you talk about your ex in a positive light, it makes it seem like you’re not over that person yet. And when you talk about your ex in a negative light, it makes it seem like you’re not over that person — and probably rather bitter about it.
A few years ago I went on a date with someone I matched on Tinder. He seemed quite nice…until he mentioned his ex-wife. I haven’t asked any questions about this relationship because it’s really none of my business, and I encourage people to keep it casual on the first date. Without any prompting, he told me a long list of negative things about her and how she made him unhappy, he also told me that she had a mental illness. A few thoughts immediately went through my head:
He’s not over her.
If he speaks so badly 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 sharing this information with me, but in this setting (a bar mind you) it was totally inappropriate. Nor did he respond to my suggestions to change the direction of the conversation. Although he and I didn’t have enough in common to warrant another date anyway, the fact that he spent most of the date beating up his ex sealed the deal for me.
Some people think it’s fun to share sob stories. That’s not the case…at least not on a first date, when you should just see if you’re in a relationship with someone.
2. Delay without notice or excessive delay, even with notice
You are late. Things happen. Please be so kind as to announce your appointment in good time if possible.
I once had a date that started at 3pm. I arrived at 2:59pm and didn’t see him so I texted and asked if he was inside. He replied at 15:04 that he was on his way. He arrived at 3:08pm with no apology. It wouldn’t have bothered me at all that he was late. But the fact that he didn’t tell me up front and didn’t apologize was enough to annoy me. Remember that your time is no more valuable than anyone else’s.
3. Take out your phone or text someone else
It’s rude, plain and simple. If you take out your phone, the other person will assume that you’re looking for better plans or that you’d leave the first ring of a text message. Try to put your phone away for the duration of the date. (And “Away” doesn’t mean the screen is facing down. It means the device isn’t visible.) The exception, of course, is when you’re expecting a call or text message. Then just tell us your appointment in advance.
4. Talking too much about a certain topic (especially work…or yourself).
Talking about work all the time makes it feel like a job interview. When you talk about yourself, you come across as self-centered. Make sure the conversation is give and take and goes smoothly.
5. Being rude to a waiter or anyone
Treat people kindly no matter who they are.
6. Poor tip
be generous tip good.
7. Flip the “off” switch if not interested
Sometimes it happens that you have a date and in the first five minutes you realize that it doesn’t fit. That’s okay – it happens! But instead of going through your shopping list in your head during the date, try to stay present and engaged. They both took the time to be there so it’s best to make the most of it, learn something and try to enjoy yourself a little.
Now that you know what not to do, it’s time to start dating. And don’t forget to smile!
This article originally appeared in the Tribune News Service.