You’ve used all your best moves and bagged date number one, and you’re feeling great! But then you have to show the real you, for a sustained amount of time, in person.
You can’t carefully craft each response in real life like you can on Tinder. Saying, ‘Sorry, my boss was really on me for a couple of hours there,’ followed by a witty reply, does not work after you have been staring into the middle distance for way too long at the bar. So, the pressure is on. And sometimes, a first date doesn’t go quite as planned.
Usually, it’s pretty easy to tell that a first date was a bit of a sinking ship. Whether it’s the overall feeling of the date or one specific moment that the tide turned, a negative atmosphere is palpable.
Maybe there was a tense exchange about politics. Or discovering you dated their sibling in the past. Any number of things can ruin date number one… you meet eyes and both know this is where this flirtation ends, you’re not soulmates.
But then there are the times it’s much harder to tell! Afterward, you end up pulling your hair out analyzing the conversation, the location, the atmosphere, trying to pinpoint the moment they lost interest when you thought it had gone great!
I can’t tell you exactly why your specific date went wrong, but I can let you into a few of the most common reasons there won’t be a second date.
16 Reasons Your First Date Failed
1. You Asked Inappropriate Questions
This one is all about reading the room. If things are going really well, maybe you will get into the deep stuff, but generally, first dates don’t stray into say, childhood trauma,
The rule of thumb? Don’t ask questions that put people on the spot or that they might not be comfortable with on a first date.
Some examples of what not to ask on date one:
- Exactly how much money do you earn?
- Why did your last relationship end?
- Do you always dress like that?
- Who did you vote for in the last election?
That doesn’t mean you blanket can’t talk about work, politics, or even past relationships, but if you’re unsure probably just skirt around such topics.
2. You Brought Up Your Ex
Just don’t do it! Everyone has exes and sure, they might come up eventually, but a first date isn’t the time or place. If it seems like you’re dwelling on the past, your date will probably see that as a red flag.
An exception may be a funny story that includes an ex, or an ex from absolutely ages ago who may now be a friend. But if they’re a friend now, just refer to them as a friend. If they’re in a story, mention them as briefly as possible. Repeatedly talking about how great your recent ex is? A definite no. And saying how awful they are might come across even worse.
3. You Were Judgemental
You’ve just met this person, and aside from some texting, this is basically the first impression. You probably have some idea of one another, but not a totally full or accurate idea.
You definitely don’t want to come across as too judgemental, or all your date will be thinking about it whether or not you’re judging them, too. This means not being judgemental about anyone. You can have fun without being mean, right? I hope so!
4. You Were Obviously Insecure On Your Date
I know it’s easy advice to give and can be harder to follow, but confidence is key!
I’m not saying you should be the most self-assured person alive but if you were feeling particularly insecure, and looked for validation from your date instead of feeling comfortable with yourself, it might have been a little off-putting.
How are you supposed to feel secure on a first date? I have a few tips:
- Make sure you go somewhere you are comfortable. Don’t like dancing? Probably don’t take your date to a swing dancing class
- Make sure you actually like your date – I don’t mean wait until you’re sure you are in love, because that is also a recipe for disaster – but chat on your app of choice for long enough that you know you can at least have a decent conversation
- Dress like you – a clean, tidy, good set of clothes version of you, but you nonetheless. If you dress up in what you think a ‘date outfit’ is but don’t feel comfortable, it will show
- Act like you – you can think about topics to cover and questions to ask before the date, sure, but don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t. And don’t memorize a script! No one wants to date a robot. Well, maybe someone does, but it is unlikely to be your date.
5. You Talked Too Much
It’s good to talk a lot on a first date. You want your date to get to know you!
But it’s pretty easy to cross the line and talk way too much. This could be due to nerves, or just bad social skills. Make sure you give your date a chance to talk so you can get to know them too. A good way to do this is by asking questions and letting your date take the reins for a bit with their answers.
Remember, everyone is on their best behavior on a first date (or they should be at least) so your date may not interrupt if you’re going on and on!
6. You Got a Bit Carried Away With Plans
It’s nice to give your date signs that you’re enjoying your time together and would like to see them again.
But if you said too many things implying a long future together, it could have been a bit much for a first date. Think, ‘You’ll love my parents!’, ‘It’s my favorite place to vacation, I can’t wait to take you there.’ Or, ‘The waitress has a nice name – what do you think about it if we have a girl? It would be so romantic to name her after our first date…’
Nice sentiment but way too much too soon. Actually, that final one isn’t even a nice sentiment. It’s just plain weird!
7. You Were Looking For Different Things
It’s not a crime to go on a date only looking for a hookup, nor is it to go in looking for the one. But if you two weren’t on the same page about what you wanted from the date, it’s not a great sign for a second one.
You can avoid this by communicating before you actually hang out. Here’s a bit of advice for working out what you’re both looking for before your first date.
8. You Were Rude
I hope this is an obvious thing to avoid, but you never know!
If you were rude to your date it’s unlikely they’d want to see you again. Sure, you can joke, but be careful not to cross the line and make them feel disrespected.
Additionally, be nice to all staff you interact with. Tip your waiter and bartender, be understanding… basically be a normal friendly human being. And if that’s not the usual you, then you’d better work on yourself before you dive into the dating game!
9. You Were Culturally Insensitive
Dating someone from a different culture than yours can be great! But if you made ignorant comments or asked the wrong questions about their culture, or generally didn’t treat this difference with enough respect, that’s not a good sign that you two will gel. Of course, this goes both ways, they have to respect your culture as well.
This is most likely to happen if you are dating in a new place. Basically, all the usual rules apply. Don’t ask intrusive questions, don’t make assumptions, don’t touch anyone’s hair just because it’s different from yours and you want to give it a feel.
10. You Twisted the Truth
We’ve all done a little bit of embellishing to make ourselves come across better on the apps.
And sometimes on our resumes, too. But you want to avoid lying before or on your first date, as it just sets you up for future difficulties. So, no ancient photos. No exaggerations about your career. No claims of wild riches (unless you have the bank balance to back them up… and it is very relevant to the conversation).
This goes for little embellishments on the first date too.
If your date is a perceptive person, they might sense that you’re not being totally honest. If they aren’t, they will find out soon enough that you don’t actually have an indoor pool and a bowling alley in your basement. Maybe you won’t take them home until date three, but at that point, they will definitely be confused by the two-bed apartment, roommate, and clearly rental decor!
There’s nothing wrong with just being who you are. You can’t help it, can you? As long as you’re trying to be your best self, you’re fine.
11. You Were Playing Devil’s Advocate
A date is meant to be a pleasant experience. If you argued with your date the whole time, it probably wasn’t that pleasant.
You might think it was “fun banter” to debate them on everything they said, but in reality, it probably wasn’t. No one feels valued by a date who keeps telling them they’re wrong or asking intentionally probing questions about how they arrived at a conclusion.
In fact, even if a first date isn’t great, there’s no reason to antagonize one another. Unless you’re actually in the market for a new enemy rather than a new partner?
12. You Didn’t Make an Effort
You don’t have to show up for every date in a tux with a fresh haircut, but make sure you’re wearing clean clothes that are appropriate for the destination of your date. At an absolute bare minimum, you should be showered, have brushed your teeth, and all the other basic hygiene stuff.
If you show up looking like you don’t take care of yourself, your date probably won’t be best pleased.
Perhaps you can skip the shower for a video date, but I wouldn’t. In fact, I dress as carefully for a video date as I do for a real-life one. After all, how can you show your best self if you don’t feel your best?
13. You Weren’t Focused on Your Date
If you were easily distracted during your date, checking your phone a lot, or looking over their shoulder when they were speaking, they probably got the impression you weren’t interested.
Make sure you make your date feel like the most important thing going on, it’s the least you can do when they’ve given their time to date you! This also applies pre-first-date.
If you know you’re easily distracted, no big deal. Just be careful. Don’t sit where you can see a TV behind your date. Keep your phone in your pocket apart from when you check your texts in the bathroom.
And definitely never absent-mindedly open Hinge while your date is getting more drinks!
14. You Senses of Humor Didn’t Match
Arguably, it is easier to be funny on Tinder. I mean, you have all that time to craft everything you say! On the date, though, things are far more in the moment.
This one is a shame when it goes wrong and you just don’t fit in terms of humor, but also really important. You can both be funny people but if you don’t share a sense of humor you won’t feel much spark.
It’s a square peg, round hole situation if there are no laughs. Some people are just serious, and that’s fine, if you’re both thoughtful types that’s a humor match!
But if one of you is a prankster, and the other is planning a cerebral stand-up routine on the way to the bar, you probably won’t hit it off.
15. You Picked the Wrong Location
Some people love to go on a first date at a fancy restaurant. Some people think that’s overkill and would much prefer a coffee or a drink at a bar. If you picked somewhere your date didn’t feel comfortable, they probably didn’t have a good time.
How to avoid this? You need to discuss the first date, and be honest about what you do and don’t enjoy. More than that – what you feel comfortable with on a first date. General advice for first date activities includes:
- Having something to do, whether that is hiking or a movie, is a good idea on date one
- A lot of people find really fancy first dates awkward. Lots of people have also told me eating a bunch on a first date is kind of weird for them (it’s hard to talk!) so maybe check how your date feels regarding locations
- A first date should usually be in a public place if you met online, to make sure you are both comfortable and feel safe
- Check what your date’s vague budget is! Even if you can pay for them to do something a bit more expensive they might not be comfortable with that. There are plenty of options for cheap first dates out there
16. You Made Assumptions
As I keep saying (sorry), one of the most important things to do on a first date is listening. Really listen, actively.
If you made assumptions about your date instead of hearing what they were saying, based on their looks, background, education, or whatever, you’re not going to be a great date.
It is really hard to leave unconscious prejudice at the door. But try. For romance’s sake!
Things to Reflect on
The following questions will help you work out what you might have done wrong on your first date, as well as plan for a great first date the next time you get the chance to go on one.
Did you Listen?
This is a pretty basic one, but it can be so easy to focus on your own performance on the date… were you funny and charming? Did you tell all your best stories? Did you manage to naturally fit into the conversation your recent achievement at work?
Stop right there!
Did you listen to your date?
Did you discover their interests, favorite foods, their job, their hopes, their dreams?!
It’s super important to listen in general, but especially date number one! If you think back and can’t remember many details about them and their life, then maybe you weren’t a great listener.
Next time, go with a mission in mind! You’ll find out five interesting things about your date, for example.
Did you act like yourself?
You can get into your head about a date, imagining the person you think your date wants you to be and trying to live up to that fantasy.
Don’t do it!
The best way to make a connection and snag yourself a second date is to be yourself. Try to be comfortable in your own skin.
I know, easier said than done, but you’re not going to fool anybody trying to be someone you’re not, so don’t bother. If you were putting on a bit of an act on your first date, the person you were with could probably sense it, and being able to tell someone is putting on a bit of an act is a big turn-off.
Were you moving at lightning speed?
For this thing to work the two of you need to be going at the same pace, or at least similar paces. If you’re feeling all in from moment one, it could be off-putting for your date who is looking for something a bit slower.
Or vice versa, if you’re interested in taking things slow and one step at a time, you might get spooked if the other person seemed ready for commitment straight off the bat.
It’s good to have an idea of what you want going into the date and take the time to learn what your date wants too. If you’re not in the same place it will never work.
Are you ready for love?
It’s all very well and good going on a date or two, but are you actually ready to connect with someone?
Is your date?
If one of you has got your walls up the relationship will go nowhere. Small obstacles become massive ones, and you’ll be two ships in the night, sailing past each other instead of making a connection.
Communication starts with you. Ask yourself what you want, and go looking for that rather than for what you think you should want.
Many people in their 30s, for example, feel like they should be looking for the one. While people in their early 20s may feel pressure to sow their wild oats.
But guess what? Those roles can easily be swapped if you want them to be!
If you don’t get a second date this time around, hard luck, but don’t worry about it. There are plenty more dates to be had.
It is fine to reflect on what you could have done better, but don’t get obsessive. It won’t rewind time and give you another shot, and it certainly won’t help you get a date with anyone else!
A failure is a chance to learn, not an excuse to give up and wallow.
Next time you’ll know a few things to avoid. Get a head start by prepping yourself before your next first date, to make sure you’re the best date you can be.