So what went wrong on that date? Marina Margulis is here to help you avoid the Bottom 10.
It’s an age-old story: you meet a girl at a party (or online). You start texting and flirting, allowing yourself to believe that you may have found the woman of your dreams. You can’t wait for the first date, counting the minutes until you are together. When you finally meet you’re still just as excited, but by the end of the date you start to feel that she is withdrawn and cold. When you lean in for a kiss, you get the side of her cheek and a corner of an ear (if you’re lucky). When you text her again, the response is “I had a lovely time, but I don’t think that this will work out.”
After a date when you have absolutely no idea what has gone wrong, it can be very helpful if you have mutual friends to ask them to probe your love-interest-that-almost-was as to what went wrong, but you must be prepared to take potentially brutal and raw criticism. If you have enough guts to ask the question yourself, do it. Instead of an obligatory and defeated “ok, it was nice meeting you too” response, call or text her and just ask what went wrong. Don’t take ambiguity for an answer: insist on concrete reasons so that you can correct them in the future. Don’t take offense; instead, use it as a learning tool to avoid the same mistakes in the future.
Yes, all of this is easier said than done. Most of us are not brave or mature enough to turn rejection into education. So, for the majority who will choose to poke around in the dark, here are the biggest turnoffs that women report after a first date.
1. Poor Attire
Gentlemen, please give some thought to the way that you present yourselves. Remember, first impressions last a lifetime. Women can be uncomfortable and embarrassed to be seen with men that are dressed sloppily and/or inappropriately. It is a good idea to call the venue of your date to ask them about a dress code. When you are not sure, ask a friend who is known to be a good dresser, or, better yet, ask another woman—your friend/sister/cousin, etc—for advice. Make sure that it is not someone who will deliberately steer you in the wrong direction, like an ex-girlfriend! Finally, when in doubt, remember that it’s better to be over- than under-dressed. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “you can never be overdressed or overeducated.”
2. The Creep Factor
If you notice a look of disgust or fear in your date’s face, chances are that you have entered the “creep zone.” Certain words and phrases, such as “baby-doll,” “pussycat,” and “honey face,” will not only scare your date, it will also make her want to put out a public announcement warning other women to stay away.
She agreed to go out with you, so don’t be overly thankful to her, tell her how her beauty overshadows your meaningless existence or keep asking why a girl like her would want to go out with a loser like you. Remember, confidence is sexy. No woman wants to spend her time and effort building up your ego.
4. Bad Manners
Every woman is looking for her knight in shining armor. That knight does not eat with his mouth open, he does not answer his phone during the date or shove himself in front of her in the doorway. Remember, a woman wants to feel like a lady at all times, so you need to be a gentleman.
5. Bad Breath
This requires no further explanation. Never leave a house without a mint or gum to freshen your breath. If your date involves food, stay away from onion and garlic: there are not enough mints in the world to mask those smells.
6. Excessive Cologne
Women appreciate a well-groomed man. That does include a nice masculine scent, however your scent should not be blocking the taste buds of diners across the restaurant. A woman should only detect your cologne if she stands right next to you, so don’t be tempted to bathe in that bottle of Hermes. A little bit goes a long way.
Regardless of what your mother raised you to believe, the world does not revolve around you. Not every story has to come back to you. Not every analogy from her life has to revert to yours. Let her find your awesome side—you don’t have to show it all off on that first date.
If you find your date glancing around the room as you tell your favorite story about how you became a CPA after a school trip to the bank, chances are that she’s bored to tears. Not everyone is a natural-born story teller or a comedian, but if you keep your stories short and throw in a few jokes in between, you will keep her attention. Let the conversation flow both ways. If you see her eyes beginning to glaze over, change the subject. If the art of light discourse does not come naturally to you, prepare a few stories and subjects ahead of time. It is always helpful to run them by a few friends first, to ensure that you’re on the right track.
9. Hyper Sensitivity
While most women expect at least a solitary tear from their man while watching Marley and Me, not too many women appreciate a man who breaks down while telling her about how much his feelings were hurt when his last potential date stood him up. She may get to like that sensitive side of you as she gets to know you better in time, but on the first date if you can’t keep it together, stick to subjects that are light and happy.
10. Lack of Generosity
Remember: you’re on a date with your potential soul mate. Do you really want this relationship to end here, in this restaurant, as you try to convince her to order the burger because it’s four dollars cheaper than the steak? No one is suggesting that you need to go broke while courting a woman—you should always choose a venue within your means—but once there, don’t ever let her see you sweat and suffer over every dollar.
This originally appeared on New York Socials.