First dates can be one of life’s most stressful experiences, as we put our looks, personality and sense of style on the line. We’ve all experienced the classic side effects of first date nerves, be it the sweaty palms, the nervous stammer or the annoying mental blank.
Yet, no matter how nervous we might feel on a first date, there are always some conversation topics and bad behaviours that should be strictly avoided. From awkward innuendos to suggestive staring, here is a countdown of the top ten deadly mistakes that every first date goer should steer well clear of.
1. Arriving late
It might sound like a simple one to get wrong, but getting there on time is literally the first impression you’ll ever make on your potential future partner. If you show up late to the restaurant, your date will always clock you as a disorganised person, even if it’s on a completely subconscious level.
Of course, there are always going to be circumstances that can hold us up, whether it’s bad traffic or being delayed at work. Be sure to let your date know if you’re going to keep them waiting and make a point of apologising once you arrive.
Enjoying a glass of wine with your meal is one thing, but if you find yourself shooting tequilas then it’s safe to say you took a wrong turn somewhere along the line. Limiting your alcohol intake not only stops you making a fool of yourself, it’s also a matter of safety as you get to know this new person.
3. The ex
Under no circumstances is it appropriate to go into a lengthy discussion about your ex girlfriend or boyfriend. It doesn’t matter if they’re relevant to a witty anecdote or if their persistent phone calls are driving you mad, bringing them up is awkward and will probably damage the flow of easy conversation.
Keep in mind that by dropping their name or mentioning your past experiences together, it gives the expression you haven’t got over your old feelings and aren’t ready for a new relationship.
4. The telephone
Whether it’s work calling or your sister checking up on you, turn your phone off and show some basic manners. There’s nothing ruder than writing a text message while your date is trying to get to know you. If you’re waiting on an important phone call, or need to have it switched on in case the kids contact you, then politely explain the situation and keep the phone out of sight and out of mind.
5. Table manners
Licking your knife, belching loudly and picking that niggling piece of spinach from underneath your molar are all sure-fire ways of disgusting your date. If table manners aren’t your forte, try to be on your best behaviour.
This isn’t like the scene in Pretty Woman where the socially unaware, yet beautiful lead star’s lack of cutlery knowledge is seen as sweet and endearing. Bad table manners always leave a lasting impression, so put your elbows down, read up on which fork to use and keep a napkin on hand.
This is a topic that, if the date goes well, may come up naturally or at least at some point down the line. But bringing it up over dinner on a first date is never appropriate. Be sure to steer clear of overtly sexual jokes, stories or past experiences. Absolutely never try to use innuendos about how you hope the evening will pan out, because you’ll come across as sleazy and make your date feel pressured and uncomfortable.
7. Yourself, relentlessly
First dates are an opportunity for both partners to learn and discover new things about each other. So make sure that the learning process stays at a healthy and even 50/50 ratio. Talking about yourself relentlessly really only tells your date one thing: that you’re not particularly interested in them. Ask questions about their life and show an interest in their answers with both your language and your body language.
8. Plans for marriage?
A great first date should always stick to a cheerful and light tone. However, it’s always difficult to keep things that way when you’re giving them a grilling about their intentions for walking down the aisle.
Hopes for the future regarding kids, marriage and retirement are all great third date conversations, when you can talk about your own plans without putting pressure on your partner. Remember a first date always carries a loaded sense of expectation, so steer clear of sticky subjects and keep the vibe easy-going.
9. Your obscure hobbies
If you have a bit of an odd hobby and you’ve noticed people react strangely to it in the past, it might be best to wait until the second date to bring it up in conversation. This applies to everything from Burmese cat breeding to taking part in battle re-enactments every weekend.
Having said that, if your hobby is especially important to you it might be worthwhile finding a date who shares your passions. Online dating is an excellent way to locate other singles in your area, and relationship sites like http://www.eharmony.ca specialise in bringing together compatible personalities.
10. Controversial opinions
Politics, religion, abortion, the war in Iraq – they’re all bound to offend someone. It’s a first date and granted the experience is designed for you to be able to get to know someone better, but in no way does that warrant vitriol or aggression. If a topic is raised that you disagree with, politely change the subject. At the end of the day, there is no acceptable reason to be rude.
If you’ve had a bad dating experience in the past and are searching for an accepting and welcoming environment, online dating is a great place to look for love. Whether you’re searching for other black singles, a welcoming Muslim dating environment or, perhaps, other single parents who understand your lifestyle, relationship sites are there to help.