They lied to you. Talking about politics, religion, money or even your ex on a first date is not ruining your chances of success. There are far worse sins to commit the first time you meet up with a potential romantic partner. Let me tell you about them.
In the last 4 years, I have been on dates with more than 30 women. I’ve had it all, from the most amazing first date that lasted 18 hours, to the boring evenings where I couldn’t wait to leave, or the truly bizarre meetings that got me thinking how the heck I had ended up there.
While each person is different, I started noticing patterns. Below you’ll find the three most common mistakes I have seen people making on dates, and tips on how to avoid them. The truth is, dating can be hard and we could all use a little help with it.
1. Interrogate Your Date
It’s a cold November night. We are sitting in a bar, my date in front of me. We both play with the wine glasses on the table while we try to make conversation. The chat is not exactly flowing, but we’re trying.
Perhaps she is trying too hard though.
She starts asking questions, one after the other.
“- Do you drink coffee?”
“- How often do you drink alcohol?”
“- At what time do you go to sleep?”
“- Do you go to the gym?”
After a while, I feel that I am being interrogated by the police. All the date vibes are gone, and I am there only to prove myself and show that girl that I am a respectable, plausible individual that has the potential to become her romantic partner for the long-term.
Except that it all feels like too much, so I call it a night and leave. I deleted Tinder from my phone after that. No more interrogations for now, I’m tired.
“A date is, in essence, an audition. Much more than we usually admit, we’re trying to imagine each other as prospective long-term partners.” — The School of Life
Whether we like to admit it or not, we spend our first dates judging the person in front of us. Assessing whether or not she’s the right fit. Do her habits fit into our lifestyle? Would we be agree on money issues? Is she someone we would be proud to take home and introduce to our families?
It’s all fair. But please, please… don’t do it so blatantly.
Interrogating your date so openly will likely ruin any chances of a potential long-term connection. After all, who wants to be put on the spot, proving themselves to a stranger?
What to do instead
You can, and should, assess compatibility.
But you don’t need to know everything about the other person on the first date. Show a genuine interest in her. Ask questions but not as if you were the police. Go deep into each topic.
For example, you can still ask her if she drinks alcohol. When she says yes, ask questions about it. What kind of drinks does she like? Tell her about your favorite drink or an embarrassing moment when you were drunk. Ask her what what kind of drunk she is. Laugh together about it.
Save the gym questions for the next date.
2. Speak Without Listening
I hate physics.
I have zero interest in it, and I’m pretty sure my brain has some physical incapability of understanding the subject. Don’t talk about physics to me ever, especially on a date, alright?
Who would talk about physics on a date, anyway? Well, this girl I met back in 2017.
It was a summer night and we were having dinner on a terrace. I had just come back from a trip in Europe and I was telling her about it, but she cut it short:
“-I don’t like those countries, they put gays in concentration camps.”
“- Hum, I am talking about Slovenia, they don’t have concentration camps for gay people…”
“- Anyway, I was telling you about physics…”
Blablablabla… gibberish to me.
After a while, she seems upset:
“- I feel like I’m talking alone.”
“- Well, I told you I don’t understand physics.”
“- But I have nobody else to talk to about it.”
And then she continued. Until she paused again:
“- I feel I’m talking alone” — she said.
Well, no wonder, Sherlock.
To be fair, I could have tried harder with the physics topic. But she could have also tried with my trip. We just weren’t a good fit for each other.
What to do instead
If someone tells you they don’t like a certain topic, you can find something else to talk about, some common ground where you can connect.
And, for everyone’s sake, pay attention to the flow of the conversation and the body language of your date. If you feel you’re doing all the talk and there is nothing flowing from her to you, that’s a big red flag. It might be that she’s just shy, but even in that case, she will smile or nod or show you, in some way, that she’s enjoying the moment.
If all that she’s sending is radio silence, however, you need to realize that and change the course of the conversation. Even if that means calling it a night.
3. Be Too Serious
We are sitting in a poorly lit bar, in a dark winter night. The ambience is cosy, and the conversation not too bad.
“- And that’s how I ended up moving to this country” — I wrap it up, laughing at myself and my poor skills to make life decisions.
“-I see” — she replies.
No laugh from her. Not even a smile.
I adjust myself in my chair, feeling slightly uncomfortable.
Still, the next week, I’m sitting in front of her, in a cafe, for a second date. In the middle of the conversation, she goes with:
“- I am fat”.
“-Hum… No, you look great” — I really mean it, I’m not trying to make her feel good.
“-No, I’m fat”.
Well, alright, if you say so…
There was no third date.
First dates can be an intimidating experience, and your nerves might emerge, both before and during the date. We have all been there.
And while we all react differently to stress, it’s really important that you try your best to keep it light and fun.
According to science, “laughing together makes people feel more intimate and open up” and “laughing might be a key social lubricant because it triggers endorphins, the ‘happy hormones’ that contribute to the formation of social bonds”. But more than science, this should be common sense: how doesn’t love a good laugh?
What to do instead
On a first date, stay away from heavy, negative topics. It’s fine if it makes sense in the course of the conversation, but don’t let it be all you talk about. Bring up positive subjects that will be more likely to make you share a laugh.
And while you have a dark side — we all do — don’t let it be at the center of the date. Don’t start by telling how fat you feel, or the debt you have, or how much you hate the city you live in. If the relationships develops, you’ll get there, and it’s important that you do, but don’t jump right into it when you meet someone new.
Before You Leave
So we’ve covered what you should avoid on a first date. But what should you do instead?
According to this video of The School of Life, there are two main things that make a difference on a first date:
- Showing that you have a good relationship with yourself — this doesn’t mean bragging about all the cool things you have done, but rather exhibit your own failures and showing that you can handle weakness strongly. For example, you can say that you were nervous to go on a date with that person, but you managed to put yourself together.
- Showing that you like the other person, yet that you can see their frailties enough — they know they are imperfect and it’s comforting to know that you acknowledge that.
Most of all, be yourself. Try to relax and have a good time. Faking it will never be a winning strategy, as your real personality and interests will emerge on the long term. And if it really isn’t the right fit, move on. There is always the next girl.
Previously Published on medium
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