Seven things not to do on a first date

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We’ve all had bad first dates. When you think about them, are there any common themes? Here are seven things you don’t need to do on a first date. Whether you have chemistry or not, avoiding these things will make dating a better experience for everyone.

1. Talking about your ex / past relationships

If you talk about your ex in a positive way, it looks like you haven’t outgrown that person. And if you’re talking about your ex with a negative outlook, it looks like you haven’t passed that person … and you’re probably a little bitter about it.

A few years ago, I had an appointment with someone I had met on Tinder. He seemed nice enough … until he mentioned his ex-wife. I didn’t ask any questions about this relationship because it’s not really my business, and I encourage people to keep things clear on the first date. Without any indication, she proceeded to tell me a long list of negative things about her and how she made him miserable, as well as telling me that she had a mental illness. A few thoughts immediately crossed my mind:

He is not above her.

If he spoke so badly of her, what would he say to me one day?

Share very personal information about other people with strangers.

Sure, I flattered myself that he felt comfortable enough to share this information with me, but it was completely inappropriate in that environment (in a bar, mind you). He also didn’t pick up my directions to change the direction of the conversation. While he and I didn’t have enough in common to secure another date anyway, the fact that he spent most of the date hitting his ex sealed the deal for me.

Some people find it fun to share sob stories. It’s not … at least not on a first date, when you just have to see if you’re in a relationship.

2. Arriving late without warning or arriving too late, even with notice

You’re late. Things happen. Please let us know your appointment in advance, if possible.

I once had an appointment that started at 3pm. I arrived at 2:59 pm and didn’t see him, so I texted him to ask if he was inside. He responded at 3:04 p.m., on his way. He arrived at 3:08 p.m. without apology. I wouldn’t have cared if I was late. But the fact that he hadn’t told me in advance — and not apologized — was enough to bother me. Remember that your time is no more valuable than anyone else’s.

3. Have your phone away from home or send text messages to someone else

It’s rude, simple and straightforward. When you have your phone off, the other person assumes that you are looking for better plans or that he or she would skip the first time you leave with a text message. During the date, try saving your phone. (And “away” doesn’t mean with the screen down. It means out of sight.) An exception, of course, is if you’re waiting for a call or text message. Then simply enter your date in advance.

4. Talk too much about any topic (especially work … or yourself).

If you talk about work all the time, it sounds like an interview. If you talk about yourself, you sound self-absorbed. Make sure the conversation is a give and take and that it flows.

5. Being rude to a server … or anyone

Treat people kindly, whoever they are.

6. Don’t tip well

Be generous. Aim well.

7. Turn the “off” switch if you are not interested

Sometimes you go on a date and you know that for the first five minutes it’s not a game. All right, come on! But instead of reviewing the shopping list in your head during the appointment, try to stay present and engaged. You’ve both enjoyed the time to be there, so it’s best to make the most of it, learn something, and try to enjoy it in some way.

Now that you know what not to do, it’s time to dump her and move on. And don’t forget to smile!

This article originally appeared in the Tribune news service.

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