For the single guy, first dates can be so many things: magical, exciting, romantic — or in some cases, really, really annoying. Ask any man who’s out there in the romance trenches, and he’ll give you a litany of misdeeds perpetrated by the female dating population in America.

But lucky you, you don’t have to actually ask them anything because I did it for you. I spoke with single guy friends, relatives and complete strangers who overheard our conversations and couldn’t help but chime in about what drives them wild (in a bad way) on a first date. And boy, did I get answers.

Sure, we men know that we’re not exactly perfect (feel free to object), but there are a number of things you may not even realize you’re doing that can inadvertently put you on the “Do Not Call” list for life. Here are the top 10 first-date crimes:

1. Comparing your date to your ex. “He would never order the steak rare like you just did.” Um, OK. “He would never think of driving a car like the one you do.” Yeah? Great. “He would never wear a jacket like yours!” Fascinating. Listen, we guys want to go out to dinner to get know you better, not the man you broke up with two months ago. The more you talk about him, the more we’ll think that we’ve got “rebound” stamped on our collective foreheads. And here’s a weird little guy trait you might not know: Trash the man you once loved too much, and we might start to mentally take his side. Nobody could be that bad, we’ll think to ourselves. You’re just being too critical, we’ll surmise. And worse, we’ll wonder if are you going to be this harsh on us! Because if so, what the heck are we doing splitting dessert with you? Why aren’t we out having fun, like that poor guy who escaped right before you criticized him to death?
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2. Asking too many money-based questions about your date’s job. It’s one thing to take an interest in what your date does, but save the “Does your company give you stock options?” questions for a little further down the road. (Preferably after you get engaged.)

3. Not eating anything after agreeing to meet up for a meal together. My buddy Colin put it best when he said, “I have no desire to date Gandhi.” Going on a date-night-only hunger strike is just silly. It makes men feel strange when we’re plowing through a steak and you’re picking at a mixed green salad with the dressing on the side. Plus, showing no signs of enjoying a few indulgences at the dinner table doesn’t exactly get a guy’s heart racing to imagine what’s to come a few dates from now. Instead, you will simply seem high-maintenance.

4. Picking really a expensive restaurant for the first date. On a birthday, sure, we’re totally up for blowing a paycheck on dinner. But on the first date? Not so much. Using men to take an unpaid tour of the Zagat’s guide is right up there with “running over my dog” as one of the worst first-date misdeeds a woman can commit.

5. Acting like we’re already in a relationship before we have the chance to get to know you first. Guys get just as excited as you when they meet someone cool and fun who doesn’t appear to have any weird quirks or hang-ups with her love life, but definitely leave him wanting more. If you are too clingy right out of the gate, you’ll scare him off in a hurry. Nothing screams “not girlfriend material” like giving your date a cutesy nickname 15 minutes into your first face-to-face meeting.

6. Whining about how hard it is to meet someone great these days. “When a girl is going on and on about how hard it is ‘out there’ in the dating world, I can’t help but think, What’s wrong with this person that no one wants to be with her?” says my cousin James. Plus, it doesn’t exactly make a man feel special if he knows he’s just a number in the long line of guys you dated that month.

7. Using dates like personal therapy sessions. One of the great things about being in a long-term relationship is having someone to talk to when you’re down and having a shoulder to lean on when you’re stressed out of your mind. But save those discussions about unresolved issues with your mother for a little further along than 20 minutes into your first dinner date with a guy. You want to leave him thinking, “Man, that girl was a blast!” instead of, “Man, that girl was a real downer!” First dates are all about having fun, right?

8. Flirting with other men during our first date (or, worse, with our friends).
As I said, first dates are all about having fun… but not too much fun. There’s a fine line between being outgoing and being on the prowl for anything male that moves.

9. Not having an opinion of your own. Would you like to go see a movie or go to dinner? It’s up to you. Do you like Italian food? Whatever you want to eat is fine with me. Sound familiar? One of the major goals of a first date is to find out if two people are compatible with each other. Men want to find out what you like, what you think, so drop the overly polite act and give us a peek into what’s going on in your mind. Now, we’re not asking you to turn into Bill O’Reilly — but please, ladies, give us an opinion! How can we enjoy our shrimp rigatoni special if we’re afraid that you actually hate garlic and are allergic to shellfish?

10. Acting too motherly towards your date. Oedipus married his mother, and we all know how that turned out. Never mind the first date — keep the “You need a haircut” and “Button up your jacket” comments in check for the first year of any romantic relationship, please!

Dan Bova is the executive editor of Maxim. For the other side of the story, read 10 ways guys mess up a first date.

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