So you’re finally going out with that person you’ve been eyeing… now what? Whether it be a simple coffee outing or a classic dinner-and-movie combo, how do you make sure your time together is equally fun and enjoyable for the both of you — enough to lead to a second date? The first step is keeping common turn-offs at bay and the second is avoiding these 10 rookie first date mistakes at all costs.
Showing up late
How you start things off can have a real lasting impact on the remainder of your date (and your potential future as a couple!), so beginning on a positive note is key. That being said, showing up on time is important. Arriving late “makes a terrible first impression and guarantees the other person starts the date annoyed,” explains New York City psychologist Guy Winch, Ph.D., who says if running late “cannot be avoided, text with an apology and apologize again when you arrive.”.
Marie Claire dating blogger Rich Santos also highlights the importance of punctuality: “Even five minutes of lateness is inexcusable on the first date. People are already anxious on these excursions, so making someone wait and think more about everything is pretty rude.”
Not making enough of an effort
Just like being timely makes a positive first impression, your first date outfit can also have a big impact. “The first thing we see often determines the first thing we think, so remember to dress appropriately on a first date,” relationship expert Kevin Carr told Essence. Ladies, “be sexy, but don’t let it all hang out. Leave something for the imagination; guessing is a good thing, as it will add to a man’s intrigue.”
Only talking about yourself
“No relationship or date is an exact 50/50, but balance needs to be established for harmony to begin,” writes relationship expert Janet Blair Page. “Fifty percent of the airtime is yours, so stay above 30 percent and below 70 percent.”
Psychology Today seconds this notion, further explaining the importance of showing interest in the person in front of you. “Asking questions conveys engagement,” writes psychologist Guy Winch. “If you do not ask your date questions, they will assume you’re not interested in them and will promptly lose interest in you. If you’re shy or unsure about what to ask, think of topics ahead of time.”
What’s more, “Make sure conversation flows back and forth, and don’t make it hard for the other person to get a word in. If the person you’re with isn’t talking much, try open-ended questions,” Winch added. And, if you don’t know much about a given topic they’re passionate about, don’t pretend that you do — instead, ask them more questions!
Drinking too much
As Guy Winch, Ph.D. writes in Psychology Today, a first date is no time to overindulge in the alcohol department. “A drink or two is fine, but make sure you stay present and in control. Getting sloppy or messy on a first date does not make a good impression unless your date is getting just as sloppy and messy as you are — which is not how most solid relationships begin.”
Grub Street suggests this strategy: “Order one drink and hold off on the second one until you answer the question: Do I want to stay here, or do I want to leave?” If the answer is ‘stay’, order a second, but only once your date is ready for round two.
Letting nerves get the best of you
“For men, insecurity can be either a turn on or a turn off,” relationship expert Kevin Carr told Essence. “Either way, you lose. It is important to be sure of yourself. Confidence is contagious but the absence of it cannot be hidden. Be confident in who you are. A real man will find that sexy!”
As Barbara Aleks Hecht shared with Huffington Post, “In my line of work [as a personal stylist], I’m always on the lookout for what’s hot and what’s not, what’s sexy and what’s a turnoff. And when it comes to people or relationships, there is one word that I hear over and over and over again: Confidence. And guess what? Apparently it’s pretty hot. Confidence seems to be the one thing that most people find extremely attractive.”
Taking out your phone
No matter how much you’re itching to check Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram — whatever the case may be — taking out your phone for even the briefest of moments can have a major negative impact on your date. “When you’re on a date, especially a first date, the person you are with should always take precedence over calls you want to make or receive,” writes etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore. It’s only “permissible to pull out your phone three times on a date. 1) To take a picture with your date, 2) to show your date pictures of a family baby or pet, and 3) to find the answer to a perplexing trivia question that comes up in conversation.”
If, however, you absolutely have to take a call, Whitmore recommends you “alert your date ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in if discussing private matters. If you do take the call at the dinner table, keep it as brief as possible and avoid ‘cell yell.'”
Talking about the future
It’s important to focus on the present and on getting to know your date rather than looking to the future immediately. Talk of marriage and children should never be brought up on the first date, according to dating coach Evan Marc Katz. Do so and “you’re sabotaging the dating process and making the man NOT want to get to know you better,” he writes. “Not because you want to get married and have kids — he does, too! — but because you sound needy and desperate and tone-deaf to the normal conventions of first dates. You know what a first date is for? It’s for FUN… and it’s for both of us to determine whether there’s enough potential to meet for a second date. That’s all.”
Having bad manners
Bad table manners are a huge no-no on any date. “Most of us know saliva breaks down food — we don’t need to see a demonstration of it. Watch your manners (even if you’re drinking),” urges Guy Winch, Ph.D.
What’s more, being rude to others, especially staff, also falls under this umbrella. “Nothing screams entitlement, irritability or obnoxiousness more than being rude to a waiter,” points out Dr. Winch. “If the waiter is just that bad, tell your date what you find unacceptable about the service and that you plan to say something (but skip it if your date objects or seems uncomfortable).”
Dragging out the date
If you experience an amazing connection and are having the time of your life, you may not want the date to end. Ever. But as Maura Kelly, author of Marie Claire‘s “A Year of Living Flirtatiously” blog, bringing the date to a close may be the only real way of knowing if he’s genuinely interested in you. Because the last thing you want to do is put your time and energy into something that won’t work. “If a guy is serious, he’ll ask if you’d like to hang out again and, if you agree in a way that falls somewhere on the genuine-enthusiastic spectrum, he will follow up,” writes Kelly. Either he will “talk in concrete terms about a future plan.” kiss you or follow up within 48 hours. Unlike letting a date run long for all the wrong reasons, cutting things short will reveal the truth because him following up will be “a completely voluntary, chosen action, not influenced by context or drunkenness or a desire to avoid awkwardness.”
Not reaching for the bill
As the date draws to a close, there are no set rules about who should reach for the bill, but as Michael Kaiser-Nyman, CEO and founder of Impact Dating, suggests, it’s nice for the woman to chip in, at least partially. “Historically, men paid because they were in control of a relationship, including finances and their partner’s very self,” he argues. “These days, some people see the guy paying as just a ‘gentlemanly’ thing to do, but I don’t want to control my partner, and if a woman expects me to pay, I’m not interested in dating her.” As time goes by, “things can change,” he adds. “Maybe I’ll pick up the tab sometimes, and she will other times, just as a nice thing we do for each other. But never on the first few dates, because it can be taken the wrong way.”