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10 First-Date Fumbles For Guys


Attention, men: Wondering why you never seem to make it to date #2? Answers ahead from a woman’s point of view.

By Lori Gottlieb

ast month my friend Paul met an interesting woman, asked her to dinner, and thought it went superbly—until she turned him down for a second date. He couldn’t understand it: Hadn’t she been charmed by his “funny” stories about his ex? Uh-oh, I thought. He was Annoying First Date Guy, but didn’t know it. It happens at coffee houses, bars and restaurants every day—a guy with good intentions blows that crucial first date and has no idea why. Want to get clued in? Here are ten common pitfalls:

1. Going on a rant about a former significant other
No good can come from talking about
You don’t have license to take a bite of a virtual stranger’s meal.
an ex-girlfriend on a first date. Saying something positive about an ex is threatening, and saying something negative is just plain annoying. My friend Leslie agrees: “My favorite annoying first date is the guy who spent the entire time describing in detail how nasty his ex was,” she said. “By the end of the date, he had pointed out the restaurant where she threw a drink at him and the street corner where she screamed at him about his lack of sexual prowess.” The first date is about the two of you getting to know each other. Bringing the ex into the conversation makes it seem like three’s a crowd.

2. Divulging too much personal information that’s not flattering
Take a hint from comedian Chris Rock, whose dating advice goes something like this: When you first meet someone, you’re not you. You’re the ambassador of you. In other words, this is not the time for full disclosure. I went on a first date with a guy who told me that he takes antidepressants, that he tends to be a slob, and that his family doesn’t get along. “I’d really like to see you again,” he said, “but I think I should be upfront about who I am from the beginning.” Even worse are guys who reveal unflattering personal information without even realizing that the information isn’t flattering. “My dog is my life,” a guy told my friend Sherene on their first date. “I’ve had the dog since I was a kid,” he added shamelessly. “I live with my parents.” The information was bad, but the fact that he had no idea it was bad made it horrifying. Remember: This is a date, not a therapy session.

3. Making the date feel like a job interview
Let’s face it: A first date is a job interview (for the position of significant other). But if a woman is going to put on a cute outfit and blow-dry her hair for you, try not to make her feel like she’s in the room with the head of human resources. She’d rather have a casual conversation than be subjected to obvious probes like,
Don’t say, “I’ll be in touch” after a date that goes badly.
“How long has it been since your last relationship?” Just as bad are guys who try to suss out key information by dropping calculating questions into the conversation. My friend Sara found it particularly irritating when a guy tried to figure out her age by asking her opinion of the 1972 Olympics and then saying, “Oh, but you couldn’t possibly remember that” in a questioning tone.

4. Having too much attitude
Laurie, a single woman in New York, was asked on a first date what TV shows she watches. When her date learned that she didn’t like the show Seinfeld, he didn’t believe her. Then he wouldn’t let it go for the entire meal. “He just couldn’t fathom my not liking that show,” Laurie explained, “It was as if I’d just said, ‘Yes, I live my life without consuming any liquids.’” Guys, if you want a second dinner, don’t spend the first one trying to convince your date that she’s not normal.

5. Admiring other women
Most guys know better than to stare at other women while on a first date. But it’s just as exasperating if your date asks you what you thought of the latest blockbuster hit, and your response is to go on a tear about how beautiful Angelina Jolie’s lips are. If you think the woman sitting across from you is ever going to be secure enough to kiss you after that, think again.

6. Complaining about the venue
Don’t ask your date to “pick any place you want to go,” only to whine about it once you’re there. That happened to Liz, who chose a place with a lunchtime tasting menu. Not only did the guy grumble, but “he proceeded to tell me that he had had a big breakfast and wondered who could eat a three-course lunch,” she said. “I told him, ‘I could’ and pointed to myself and then to every other diner in the restaurant.”

7. Arguing with your date
It’s one thing to talk about current events if there’s a lull in the conversation. But it’s quite another to ask your date’s opinion on anything from the Middle East to the election and then get into an argument with her, no matter what she says. That happened to 29-year-old Melissa when she and her date got into it about public versus private schools. “I was annoyed that he fought me on so many things—especially on our first date,” she said.

8. Eating your date’s dessert
Unless you’re at a Chinese restaurant, there’s a reason you each have your own plate. Just because a woman might eat more slowly doesn’t give you license to take a bite of a virtual stranger’s meal. Or, in Liz’s case, her date didn’t even wait until she’d taken a bite herself. “When my dessert arrived,” she said, “my date reached across the table and, with his fork, speared my gateau au chocolat. Talk about annoying.”

9. Not walking her to safety at the end of the date
Almost as off-putting as the overzealous guy who goes in for a kiss too aggressively is the guy who leaves his date standing there on the street at night instead of walking her to the safety of her car or a cab. This irked my pal Julia. “True, we were going in two different directions—but hello? Take care of the girl first!” she said. “Stuff like that usually points to bigger problems!”

10. Saying “I’ll be in touch” after the date goes badly
Your date knows that the evening went badly, and you know she knows it, so why say that you’ll call when it’s obvious you won’t? “I’d like him to say, ‘Good to meet you, take care,’” said Monica, who feels that you can still be nice without being annoying (or making a woman sit by the phone).

My friend, Paul, by the way, heeded this advice on a recent date. No rants about his ex-girlfriend, no “I’ll be in touch” at the end of a lackluster dinner. Of course, this was a complete turn-on to his date, who thought he was a great catch and has since set him up with a friend of hers. He promises to save his “funny” stories for, oh, at least their second date.


Lori Gottlieb is the author of Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self. Her most recent book is I Love You, Nice To Meet You.

Want to know the other side of the story? Click here to read about women’s first-date fumbles.

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