10 Bad First-Date Moves…

Read and take heed: These all-too-common offenses may seem innocuous, but they’ll put the brakes on a second date.

By Bill Keith

anding a first date is, unfortunately, is not the hardest part of dating. It’s the elusive second date that can be trickiest to score. Having trouble getting to the next round? Maybe you’re making some of the following classic rookie mistakes that lock the dating door before you’ve even tried to open it.

1. Going anything but Dutch
Although some people think that the person who’s done the asking out should do the paying, going Dutch works best. A first date is no time to establish a power structure, so
A first date is no time to establish a power structure.
paying for your date or letting him buy on the first date can be just plain awkward. “Since he asked me out, I let him pay for dinner, but it made me feel weird, like I was a woman from the 1950s,” remembers Brant from Boston, of a recent first date. “The only reason I almost asked him on a second date was so that I could even the score by paying for it, but I decided not to.”

2. Talking on the phone or texting mid-date
Unless the phone call is from the police, fire department or hospital, no one needs to take a call in the middle of a first date. If, for whatever reason, you do need to make a call or send a “Things are going well” or “Please come rescue me” text to a friend, do it discreetly from the bathroom.

3. Talking about your time on the couch
Seeing a therapist is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but bringing up mental-health issues is a little heavy for a first date. “I was on a date, and within 15 minutes, he was telling me how his therapist was convinced he had slept with his twin brother,” says Michael from New York. “I see a therapist, too, but it’s not like my panic attacks make the best icebreaker.” And the same holds true if you’re on medication. Though you might feel like it’s being dishonest not to disclose your Prozac prescription, it really isn’t necessary to give someone the major points of your emotional and psychological development in the same conversation where you’re learning where he went to college.

4. Discussing the last time you hooked up with someone
There is no good way for this conversation to go. Regardless of when the last time was, it will either sound like (a) too long ago, making your date wonder what the hell is wrong with you, or (b) too recent, making him feel like just another potential notch in your belt. Though there is no need to cover up the fact that you have a sexual history, there’s also no need to provide a bulleted list of your conquests or lack thereof.

5. Showing up late
It’s standard etiquette, but being late to a first date really doesn’t bode well for the
Everyone knows the first date is a bit of a mutual interview process.
future. “If a guy is late to a first date with me, he has a lot of work to do to prove to me that he’s not a flake or doesn’t think his time is more important than mine,” says Max of New Orleans.

6. Giving the hard sell
Everyone knows the first date is a bit of a mutual interview process; however, no one should feel like they’re sitting down to a PowerPoint presentation on your attributes, interests and skill set. “I went out with a guy who within the first 10 minutes had told me his favorite bands, TV shows, movies, where he saw himself in five years and what he was looking for in a boyfriend. It was like we were on a speed date and no one told me,” says Dan of Phoenix. No one wants to feel like just another guy in a line of applicants to be someone’s boyfriend. There are obvious points for both seeming interested in someone else’s background and providing interesting stories about yourself, but make sure to take it easy and try to let these talking points come about organically in give-and-take style.

7. Having friends come by
Asking friends to casually pop in to wherever you may be on your first date to see how things are going is one of the least-friendly things you can do: It’s just plain stressful for the other party. “Was he so worried that I’d be no fun that he needed a rescue plan? I felt like we were 16 all of a sudden,” says Marc of San Diego. “Plus, when they showed up, it was even more stressful, because I felt like I had to impress both him and his friends.”

8. Fighting with the waiter
“Treating a waiter or bartender like crap is the biggest turnoff imaginable,” says Ted of Miami. “It just speaks to how this person treats other people in general, and I’d never go on a second date with someone who did that. Even if your waiter screws up the order, you’ve got to be able to roll with the punches and try to make the best of it.” A first date is time to be on your best behavior, and if that means biting your tongue for the sake of keeping things easy-going in an already tense situation, so be it.

9. Hitting on the waiter
It seems like an obvious no-no, but you’d be amazed how often guys make eyes at the waiter on a first date. If your waiter is a dead ringer for Jake Gyllenhaal, there’s nothing wrong with talking about that with your date briefly—sometimes it’s hard not to mention. Just draw the line at staring at his butt!

10. Deferring to your date on everything
There’s a lot to be said for being agreeable, but letting your date call everything from the venue to what you’re drinking to what you’re doing next can be just as annoying as bulldozing through an evening. It’s OK to have an opinion—in fact, it’s downright important. After all, you want to start off on an even playing field, with both of you calling the shots — and seeing where your personalities connect — and where they don’t. That’s what makes a date interesting, after all.

Bill Keith is a freelance writer based in New York, where he contributes to Best Life, Cosmopolitan and GQ, among others.
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