While there are some people who are just there for curiosity or attention or getting more followers on their Instagram, the majority of people on dating apps are there for the dating potential rather than the joy of endless swiping.
It’s easy in the ongoing grind of Tinder, Bumble, or Hinge to think that matches on the app are all you’re after, forgetting that you’re actually there to try and get a date or meet up with someone. But you should be keeping your eyes on the prize! That first date.
Of course, what with the whole global pandemic and the great staying home, for a lot of us it’s been a while since we actually went on a first date. And although a video date can be a decent first date idea, there’s nothing like the real thing.
Given how rusty we all are, though, how are we going to avoid spending the whole thing with a foot jammed firmly in our mouths, just ankle-deep, the whole night long?
How about a list of what not to do as a starter?
Here are 13 examples of bad first-date behavior that you’ll want to avoid like a leper in the mosh pit.
Dude Hack Exclusive Offers
What You Should Not Do On A First Date
1. Choose The Destination At Random
If there’s anything that real estate agents and hitmen have in common it’s that they both know the importance of location, location, location. So, let whichever of these occupations inspire you the most be your guide here. Where you go for your date is going to contribute a HUGE amount to whether it makes or breaks, so get to know what your date likes and tailor where you’re going to go to them.
They’re a vegetarian who hates spicy food? Don’t take them to your favorite spice and chili meat emporium. You’re a Christian teetotaler? Then their dream date at Satan’s all-you-can-drink shooter lounge is off the cards.
To optimize for success, both halves of the date should feel equally comfortable in the date location.
2. Act Like a Robot
Your match has agreed to a date with a human being. It’s only polite to continue with this and not to unpleasantly surprise them with the fact you are actually a robot.
What do I mean by this? That you shouldn’t turn into sentient liquid metal? Firstly, yes, absolutely no turning into sentient liquid metal – this is very poor first date etiquette.
But, more importantly, don’t practice all your small talk and questions so that it seems like they’re in a conversation with a pleasant but entirely pre-programmed robot.
Sure maybe have some fun stories in your back pocket, but ultimately, you gotta be there, listening and responding, not reciting a ‘best first date’ script. You read the article about why you should really listen on Tinder, now do it in real life. No robots.
3. Move At The Wrong Speed
Imagine that – for some insane reason – your date idea was to go for a run together.
To jog through a picturesque neighborhood, maybe having some light conversation about trees or houses or something, all while working up a bit of a glow and an appetite.
And then, when you turn up, your date is in one of those skin suit running things and is hammering some starting blocks into the trail.
They then yell GO and proceed to sprint off into the distance, leaving you to doggedly trail along behind until you reach the end of the run, at which point they mock you mercilessly for being too slow, bad at running, and very sweaty.
“If you weren’t ready to actually run, you shouldn’t have come on a run,” they laugh and then do a backflip.
But when someone starts sprinting while the other person is limping, we’ve got a mismatch of expectations and destination. And yes, this can be a metaphor!
If one of you has a toothbrush in your pocket and a breakfast date planned with someone else for the next morning, and the other is discussing names for a first kid and scouting wedding locations, that’s a mismatch in speed my friend!
4. Plan Only For The Worst, Not For The Best
What’s the best possible outcome for this date? What if that happens? Have you planned for that? If what you’re hoping for is ‘I’d love to see you again,’ do you know when you’re available so you can suggest a time?
If it’s ending up back at your place, have you tidied your house up to a presentable standard? I’m not your mom, but honestly, when did you last change your sheets? If it’s smooching, did you brush your teeth? (Please say you brushed your teeth before a first date!)
We often plan for the worst, don’t neglect to plan for the best.
5. Dress Inappropriately For The Vibe
You’re at a local bar. She’s dressed as a mermaid. You are in a $3000 tux. Something has gone terribly wrong.
You’re at an exclusive restaurant. She’s wearing a full suit of plate mail armor. You’re in a stars and stripes bikini. Something has gone terribly wrong.
The third annual crab and scorpion wading contest is about to begin. Neither of you is wearing shoes or underwear. Something is about to go terribly wrong.
Don’t do those things. Dress for the occasion, so you’re comfortable, matching the environment you’re going to, and looking good.
6. Go On About Your Ex
Don’t talk about your ex. Just don’t. Even if it’s a cool story about what chill good friends you are now. Not on a first date.
7. Only Talk About Yourself
Now yes, your job is very exciting and fulfilling and demonstrates your maturity, stability, and earning potential. That story about when Keith fell down the hole when you were lost in the forest is very funny, true.
I love that you can recite the alphabet backward so quickly, what a unique and also puzzling skill to be able to demonstrate. And there certainly haven’t been any lapses or gaps in the conversation.
But, has your date said anything? Or, are you monologuing about yourself? Don’t do this. Ask a question. Care about the answer.
8. Only Ask Questions
“What do you do for a living? Is there much room for growth in that industry? Is that because of a lack of demand or a glass ceiling caused by structural inequity and inherent misogyny in upper management?
What are you doing to fight that? Is there no room for direct action? Have you considered attempting to manage up? Is the pay scale and/or benefits commiserate to someone of your experience?
Have you ever been arrested or convicted of any crime including genocide or acts of terror? Just answer the question, please.”
Yes, ask questions. Yes, be interested in the answers. You aren’t the CIA. Don’t interrogate your date.
9. Get Too Drunk
If you are not good at being very drunk, do not get very drunk. You will make sloppy errors of judgment and say or do something ranging from mildly embarrassing to mortifying.
Also, if you are in a situation where you are able to correctly assess that you have a high level of skill in being very drunk… maybe you need to drink a bit less. Take your foot off the gas there, champ.
10. Look At Your Phone All Night
Nothing says “hey, I’m not very interested in you, or this conversation” like getting out your phone on a date. Seriously, what is wrong with you? Particularly heinous? Checking to see if you have any new matches on your dating app of choice. This will not go over well.
While it may seem unlikely that you’d look at a screen instead of your date, we habitually check our phones pretty regularly. It can be an active effort to not glance at it every so often.
I’m not saying leave it at home or in the car, I’m not a monster. But maybe having your phone in an inside pocket where it isn’t easy to get to is just that extra obstacle you need to keep your grimy li’l fingers away from it.
11. Be Rude To Anyone
You will be entirely judged on how you interact with everyone. So, that means if you go bananas at the server for bringing tap water when you wanted sparkling, that will be noted. If you do some finger snap summoning of people to get their attention, that will be noted.
Don’t fall for that nonsense that being dismissive to hospitality staff is a thing that cool powerful people do. It’s not. It’s what mean, insecure people do.
The useful thing about this one is you can use it too. Is your date charming to you and horrible to everyone else? You’ve just spotted a red flag, friend.
12. Only Disclose What You Hate
Don’t hate everything. An easy conversation is “this is a thing that sucks,” and ‘I hate people who…” and “why is this place so weird.” It’s fun for a bit but it’s also really tiring and makes you seem bitter and jaded. We’re on a first date! Optimism! Try talking about things you love.
Same if your date is into music or films that you think suck. It doesn’t matter. Don’t spend 20 minutes telling them they’re wrong. I’m hoping this isn’t a surprise, but people don’t like to be told the things they like are not good or worth liking. So, maybe hold back.
Same if they aren’t into exactly the same stuff you are. Not liking David Fincher isn’t a human rights issue. Let it go.
Yes, even Fight Club.
13. Order lobster
I know it seems like a boss move, especially if you’re at a fancy place. Don’t do it. You won’t pull it off.
You’re going to end up wearing a bib, covered in butter and smelling of seafood. You can’t concentrate on the conversation when you’re doing a crustacean autopsy. It’s a hard no.
Lobster, crab, pretty much anything that adds a deconstruction/back-street autopsy component to the meal, is for several dates down the line. That’s when you can afford to be a bit of a disaster and it seems charming rather than a red flag.
For the first date, get snacks or a platter for sharing. It’s fun, friendly, and can get flirty. Perfect.
Seriously, this is not a joke answer. Don’t order lobster.
How To Get Better At First Dates
While this list of first date rules is useful in telling you what NOT to do, that’s only half of it. Because what you really want to do is, while minimizing negative behaviors, maximize positive ones.
So, what should you do on a first date?
As I mentioned above, you want a great location or activity for your first date. If you’re looking for some fresh approaches try these unique date ideas. They’re sure to kick start your own creativity for how you can bring something extra to the first date game.
Remember, if your matches aren’t turning into dates there’s always this guide on the best time to ask your Tinder date out.
Is ice skating a good first date idea? What about bowling? And playing hide and seek in the abandoned asylum? The easiest way to learn what makes a good first date and to get better at them is to go on more dates.
This is a pretty good technique, especially because it stops you from putting heaps of pressure on every first date. You can be a bit more laid back if you haven’t put all your eggs in one basket, which will in turn likely lead to you being closer to the best version of yourself.
But do remember when you’re on these dates, conversation is king. Walking that line between being curious and interested, and not interrogating your date can be tricky to navigate.
Especially when you’re just meeting someone and are feeling nervous because you want to impress. Here are 20 conversation topics for a first date if you find things starting to dry up.
Finally, if you’re wondering if the dates you’re getting are maybe not lining up in terms of expectations or what each of you is after, then maybe you’re on the wrong dating app. The only way to find out that is to check out this quiz to help you work out which is the right dating app for you.