With about two years’ experience seriously dating within the past several years, I had my share of first-and-only dates that I now look back on with amusement. They make for good stories. As difficult as it was to sit through some of those dates, they all helped prepare me to know for sure when I found the real thing, and to grab tight.
Dating at any age is fraught with anxiety, stress, disappointment and rejection, among other unpleasantness. But, of course, there’s the dangling carrot to offset that unpleasantness – love and happiness when you find the right person.
I always advise anyone who is seriously dating to treat it as an opportunity to spend a little time getting to know other human being, gain experience interviewing potential partner, and sharpen your dating chops. Unfortunately, not everyone goes into dating with this attitude. And not everyone goes into a first date putting their best foot forward. Some misbehave. Some misrepresent themselves. I’m convinced some would not be a good match for anyone.
I am relating here a few choice examples of first dates gone bad, things that happened to me more than once. Here are universal dating rules for guys – five things that should never be done on a first date.
1. Be pushy
One of the most important dating rules for guys is to let the woman set the pace, as the relationship progresses. Let her decide where to meet for dates, at least at the beginning of the relationship, and especially on the first date. Don’t step on her toes by pushing for what you want to do. She needs to feel comfortable and safe. You do, too.
Invite her for a coffee rather than for dinner. Actually, you should be glad she’s not pushing for a dinner. There’s the expense, which quickly mounts up if you end up having a string of first-and-only dates. But also, if things go bad for either of you – and they can go bad real fast – doesn’t it make sense to keep the meeting brief so either of you can quickly exit, if need be?
2. Keep checking your phone
Unless you have an urgent situation brewing and must be available by phone, keep your phone away from the dating experience and ignore any calls and messages. Keeping an eye on your phone, texting or taking phone calls when you’re on a date sends a clear message that other people are more important than she is.
I know what you’re thinking. What if she’s rude and sets her phone on the table? Why not be the better person? Maybe if you say something like “I never take phone calls on dates”, she’ll catch her faux pas and hide her phone, too.
3. Lash into your ex at length
Talking about your ex probably lands high in most people’s top 10 worst first date offences. The effect can be insidious. It’s very easy to fall into banter about each other’s exes and their bad behaviour. Easy banter can then escalate into ranting and one-upping about whose ex was worse. This kind of talk is so tiresome and indicates a general mean-spiritedness. It certainly doesn’t make for an enjoyable date. If all the talk is about how awful your ex was, you’re not engaging in conversation that will help you get to know the person sitting across from you.
I had a first date with a man who sounded great on the phone. We met for lunch (I foolishly let him talk me into lunch instead of just coffee). He no sooner plopped himself down in the booth than he launched into a tirade about his ex. He had been divorced for several years and didn’t have a relationship with her anymore. Not only was I stuck listening to this (waiting until the meal was over and the check arrived), he wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise. Much as I tried to move the conversation to lighter things, he wouldn’t budge.
Naturally, he was one of the many men I came across whose online dating profile demanded that women with “baggage” need not contact him. He didn’t see that he was carrying around some heavy duty baggage himself. Any woman having a relationship with him is probably doomed to hear about his ex until the day he dies.
4. Act on assumptions
I remember one first date in particular where the man clearly thought we were really hitting it off. He was a very nice man. We had a pleasant date, but I knew pretty quickly he wasn’t for me, so I was careful not to say or do anything that might indicate I was interested.
He obviously felt the opposite towards me. I believe he misread my attentiveness and easy manner as a strong attraction to him. When he walked me to my car (which I greatly appreciated), he grabbed me tightly and planted a long-lasting wet kiss. Big mistake and a major turnoff. I’m sure some (or maybe many) women want to be kissed on the first date, but for the sake of those who really don’t want to, why take the risk of alienating her?
5. Take out a list of questions
I swear, this happened to me. A man pulled out a typed list of about 20 job interview questions he found online – things like “where do you see yourself in 5 years” and “what are your biggest weaknesses” – and began asking them.
Funny thing is, we were having an enjoyable, lively discussion. He didn’t need to find ways to keep the conversation going. Actually, that move was a conversation buzzkill. It shut down the nice chat we were having. To me, it’s a good sign when a man is comfortable with a little silence. But I have to say, this incident alone was not at all a deal breaker for me. I chalked it up to his nervousness. This just isn’t a smart thing to do on a first date or any early date.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with writing down some questions and topics to lean on during those uncomfortable pauses. In fact, this is something I advise doing for the first few dates. But take a look at them right before the date, and then leave them in the car. Or leave them in your pocket and pop into the bathroom during the date to sneak a peak at them.
Any woman who has had at least a handful of first dates could probably top the 5 offenses I’ve related above. I can too. But the ones I’ve noted here will probably cause any woman to think twice about moving on to a second date with these men. Why take a chance? Don’t forget these dating rules for guys. Be a gent. Be courteous. Be empathetic. Put yourself in her shoes.