Women - 9 Things Not To Do On A First Date

Don't Do This On a First Date!

Sure, you always try to make a great impression. But you may unwittingly be making these common moves that send a guy the wrong signal—and even scare him off.

By Steve Friedman

S he had the most alluring New Zealand accent. She had the most shapely calves. She had a Ph.D. in art history, a vice presidential title at a global publishing house, twinkly brown eyes, and half a martini in front of her. It was our first date, and speaking for all men, I can testify that what she had is what guys like a date to have.

We chatted, as men and women tend to do on first dates. We shared some innocuous details about our lives, number of siblings, reading tastes, that sort of thing. I told her I thought she was very pretty, a cunning gambit practiced by my kind for eons, a gambit that in this case happened to be true.

She put her hand on my knee. Hmmm, this was unexpected. Nice, but unexpected. She leaned closer to me, blinked her lovely brown eyes, which were now brimming with tears.

"If I give you my heart," she said, "would you take care of it?"

You wonder how he feels about kids. You wonder if he'd ever consider converting. Wonder away. But keep quiet about it on the first date.
"And that," my pal Jack told me when I recounted my date with the Kiwi the next morning, "is when you should have been sprinting down the block as fast as you could."

Jack was speaking for most men when he urged rapid retreat in the face of such honest vulnerability revealed so early on. But, you might say, emotional nakedness is a good thing—you want a man who will accept and respect the real you. Fair enough. But in the interest of cunning gambits, it's probably best to delay some of the "real you" stuff until later in the relationship. After all, it's just a first date. And so, in the interests of improving both men's and women's odds of hitting it off and making it to date number two, here's my list of well-intentioned—but usually disastrous—moves women might be tempted to make on a first date but should avoid like the plague:

1. Angling for a five-star meal
I know women who won't go out with a guy unless he offers to drop a week's paycheck on a multi-course meal. "That way I know that he thinks I'm worth it," the gold-digging harridans...I mean, the gals, say. News flash: If you put a price tag on your company, you're going to end up with guys who put a price tag on your company. That's illegal in most states, unseemly in all. Aren't we all interested in getting to know each other?

2. Dressing down—or up—too much
Show up in your sweat clothes for sushi, and you're saying you don't care what your date thinks about how you look. Wear a cocktail dress when you meet him at the corner burger joint and you're saying you're confused or mildly unbalanced. Ask where you're going to meet, and if you're uncertain about the ambience, ask how dressy the place is. If you don't like asking questions, make it a statement. As in, "I'm going to be pretty casual, if that's all right." Ain't communication wonderful?

Hold the sex talk until later. Otherwise men will have a difficult time focusing on the real you.
3. The third-degree
You wonder how much he makes. You wonder how he feels about children. You wonder if he'd ever consider converting. You wonder if he'd like to attend your cousin's wedding in Phoenix. Wonder away. But keep quiet about it on the first date.

4. Complaining about debt
Toward credit-card companies, parents, loan sharks or anyone else. When you tell a guy you're having money trouble, what the guy hears is, "She's looking for someone to bail her out." This isn't fair on the part of the guy, it might not be realistic, but it's what a guy hears. So keep any worrisome financial situations to yourself for now.

5. Mentioning medication and disease
This one's easy. No talking about anti-depressants or other prescriptions meds. (Many women seem to feel they need to be "upfront" about this kind of thing. You don't.) And while we're on the subject, best to leave out sleeping pills, anti-fungals and the stuff you take for acid reflux. If the relationship progresses, there will be plenty of time to share that stuff. Later. Much later.

6. Revealing the gory details of your family history
You mom was mean to you? Your dad is an emotional cripple? And you're feeling frightened that even ten more years of therapy won't lift the crushing malaise heaped on your shoulders? Speaking for all men, I feel for you. Honestly. But we don't need to know all this, this soon. It's a first date. Can't we talk about the Yankees?

7. Analyzing the ex
This one is difficult to avoid, as it's a common question posed by your date. The preferred posture here is one of mild regret, hard-earned wisdom and cool disinterest. "We were headed in different directions" works, as does "I think I'm a different person now, interested in different things." Are those vague and murky? A little, but I promise you that they beat some of the more common responses. These include: "He was a cold, cruel man, and I will never allow myself to be treated like that again," and/or, "He didn't know what he had, and he will spend the rest of his life mourning my loss." When you bad-mouth your exes without taking any blame yourself for the failure of the relationship, men think you're a woman who doesn't take responsibility. And that's not so attractive.

8. Sex talk
Here are things I have heard on first dates:

"I have no gag reflex."(This was the same woman who asked if I'd take care of her heart. Which is probably one reason I stuck around.)

"I don't understand when women put out on the first date and never hear from the guy again. Every guy who's ever done me has liked me more afterwards."

"I'm multi-orgasmic."

These are not things that make us men run in the opposite direction. On the contrary, these are statements that make us even more interested. The trouble is, they make us interested in the statements and the sexual bliss they seem to promise. And when we're paying attention to the promise of sexual bliss, we have a difficult time focusing on your dreams and hopes and ambitions and the real you. So you might want to hold the sex stuff until later.

9. Sharing your desire for marriage and children
You yearn for a deep connection, enduring love and a partner with whom you can stroll under oaks together as the years roll by? You long to hear the delighted howls of toddlers, to feel the ineffable joy of parenthood? That's sweet. That's really, really sweet. The problem is, if you talk about it on a first date, chances are you're going to frighten the guy away. That might be because the guy will feel objectified, that he'll feel like you see him less as a human being with hopes and dreams of his own and more as a breeding machine. Or it might be because he's genetically programmed to spread his seed and to unconsciously avoid any kind of life-long partnership and can only be tricked into such an arrangement over time. Who knows the inner working of the minds of my kind? It's a mystery. The point is, this topic is best reserved for later.

But isn't it self-defeating and dishonest to withhold information from a man in whom you're interested? If you can't share the most intimate and genuine parts of yourself, aren't you setting yourself up for an inauthentic relationship? Won't you be doomed to always be pretending you're something that you're not?

Well, yeah, if neither one of you ever opens up. If you find yourself in a relationship like that, where you can't express your most genuine self—your hopes and dreams and fears and weakness—then you might consider getting out. But it takes time to get into such a relationship. So take your time. Go slow. No comments about gag reflexes or tender, twice-bruised hearts till later.

Steve Friedman is the author of seven books, including Lost on Treasure Island: A Memoir of Longing, Love, and Lousy Choices in New York City. More information at

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