What Not To Do On the First Date: Tips for the Borderline Socially Inept

bad-first-dateOkay, so you’re about to go on your first date with that someone special. You’re probably a little nervous, understandably. A little anxiety before the first date is totally normal. But that’s no excuse to be a moron. There are just certain things you shouldn’t do when you take someone out for the first time. Here they are:

Don’t talk about yourself incessantly

Contrary to your belief, you’re not that cool, and your date really doesn’t care that much about what you have to say, especially when you say it in a raised voice accompanied by overexcited hand gestures that make your date flinch.

Instead of talking about how your roommates in college always ate Triscuits, which you had never eaten before, and never really heard of, because you’d always eaten Wheatables, get ahold of yourself. Realize you’re one cracker brand away from putting your date to sleep, and either talk about something more interesting, or better yet, get your date to talk. 

Asking your date questions is always a good idea. That doesn’t mean grill your date like a detective, but some mild interest will go a lot further than discussions on the various techniques your company uses to shave sheep.

Don’t be oblivious

It seems like some people are so eager to impress their date that they become a walking advertisement for themselves and almost forget their date is there. Stop this. No one likes advertisements, unless they’re really, really funny

Instead of going to your “special place” where you are king of the world, try to notice things about your date, like whether they’re smiling or frowning, whether they’ve laughed recently, whether their eyes are wandering around the room, or worse yet, whether their eyes haven’t met yours in the last 10 minutes. One-word answers are also a clue that things aren’t going well.

Try to gauge what kind of time your date is having and act accordingly. If you notice that your date is sleeping, for example, it might be time to switch gears in the conversation. You could, for example, find something your date is interested in and have them talk about that, rather then continuing on about how often all your friends call you at work, because most of your friends don’t have jobs and forget you do, and how funny you think that is.

If you’re a societal drone that’s all about money and utterly at the mercy of The Man, that’s fine, just don’t make it plainly obvious on the first date

Actually, that’s kind of bad advice, because in the long run the truth is going to come out anyway, and your date should know what kind of person you are up front so they can decide whether they want to keep seeing you. But there are shades of honesty. Saying you work at a bank when you’re actually a bank robber is not going to work. But holding back on some of your weaker points, like the fact that you’d basically sell your soul to make a dollar, might be a good idea until your date has a chance to see some of your finer points, too.

And relatedly…

Don’t outright lie.

Your date will be able to tell when you’re not being honest, and that’s annoying. For example, when you say you didn’t see the Patriots game on Sunday because you were writing checks, that’s going to raise some eyebrows. And when your date asks how writing checks could prevent you from seeing a four-hour game, and you say “well it’s for work,” and your date says they didn’t know you worked on Sunday, and you say “well it’s for an organization I’m part of,” and your date asks what kind of organization, and you get a sly smile on your face and say “ummm, it’s like a science organization, like, ummmm, magic,” that’s a problem.

Don’t not pay

In other words, pay. That is, if you asked the person out, have the decency to pick up the tab. Call me chauvinistic, but whatever, it’s the gentlemanly, or gentlewomanly, thing to do. It’s courteous, it scores points, and when you’ve spent half the dinner talking about how much money you make, it only makes sense.

Of course, some dates don’t like being paid for, and they’ll insist on paying their half. That’s perfectly fine, and you should let them pay their share if they want to. But you should at least offer to pay.

Don’t lick your fingers

Even if you’re at Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s gross. And that’s coming from someone with borderline bad etiquette. I mean, okay, maybe you can lick them once or twice throughout the entire meal, if you do it absently and then wise up. But when you methodically sit there and lick, then suck, every one of your fingers while sitting directly across from your date, that’s a problem. You’ll probably notice that your date is either dry heaving or has recently thrown up in their mouths by this point. Restaurants typically provide napkins. Use them.

Don’t go in for the kiss at the end of the date

Unless the date is going really, really well. Or unless you get the feeling your date would kiss just about anyone.

The end of the date moment is always kind of touchy. You don’t want to end off a great date with just a hug that leaves your date wondering “does he/she really like me?” and you don’t want to try to stick your tongue down the throat of someone that’s really not into you. It makes pushing you away without seeming like we’re pushing you away really awkward, and we end up with that slobbery cheek-kiss.

If you like your date and want to see them again, a good rule of thumb is always a hug and kiss on the cheek. You could also go the romantic route and give your date a single red rose at the end of the date, along with a hug and kiss. Another tip is that if you’re bringing your date home, it’s always a good idea to walk them to their door. Although it heightens the potential kiss moment, it’s polite and respectful and shows you care about the person.

By the second date, if you get one, you’ll know it’s safe to kiss your date, because they wouldn’t have agreed to go on another date if they weren’t into you. You’ll also know it’s safe to do a lot of other things you wouldn’t have done on the first date, because you’ve built up enough of a rapport to have some room for error. But on the first date, play it safe, and follow these rules. Unless you’re totally not into your date, then break them at will!


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