First dates are stressful for a reason. Say the wrong thing and you can kiss date number two goodbye.
Below, dating experts share some of the subjects that should be off-limits when meeting a potential romantic partner.
1. “I’ve been going through a lot lately.”
It’s great to be open and transparent about your life but don’t go overboard. That means no Debbie Downer discussion of your depressing job prospects or how long you’ve been single. Keep the conversation light, said Brenda Della Casa, the author of Cinderella Was a Liar: The Real Reason You Can’t Find (or Keep) a Prince. This is a date, not a therapy session.
“Keep negative comments to a minimum,” she said. “Misery might love company, but your company will think you’re miserable to be around if you’re spending a high percentage of time chatting about what’s wrong in your life. We all have reasons to be unhappy, but show that you can acknowledge the bright side too.”
2. “My ex is such a jerk.”
It doesn’t matter how blissful life has been since the divorce — or how thrilled you are to finally be free of your ex. Negative remarks about your ex ultimately reflect poorly on you, said Damona Hoffman, a dating expert and author of Spin Your Web: How to Brand Yourself for Successful Online Dating.
“Ranting about your ex will make it seem like you’re still tied to the past,” she said. “Plus, your date will think that if things don’t work out, their name will be the next one raked over the coals on your future dates.”
3. “Damn, you look hot.”
Know this: A little bit of flirting goes a long way. Keep your compliments classy, said Della Casa.
“Highly sexed comments may seem like casual banter, but there’s something to be said for maintaining a little mystery here,” she said. “I’ve seen too many men and women ruin a good opportunity by ‘going there’ too soon. It sounds a bit old-school and dated, but it’s a reality for many.”
4. “My kids are my everything.”
Past a certain age, there’s nothing sexier than a man or woman who steps up to the plate and parents well (here’s looking at you, Louis C.K.) But by the end of the night, your date needs to know more about you than the kids, Hoffman said.
“Good parents always protect their kids and put the children’s needs first but your date is trying to see him or herself in your life and picture you as a romantic partner,” she said. “Immediately putting your kids in between the two of you doesn’t leave much room for the romance to blossom.”
5. “I’m 45…just kidding, I’m 55.”
On a first date, don’t lie or tell half truths about your personal life, said Marcia Sirota, a Toronto-based psychiatrist and author of Women Decoded: The Secret Strategy for Relationship Success. In other words, don’t say you’re an empty nester if your youngest basically lives at home — and don’t claim you own a home in Vegas if it’s really just a timeshare. All of that might make you sound like a catch at dinner but your date is bound to discover the truth eventually, Sirota said.
“You’re starting a new relationship with a lie and it will be almost impossible to come back from this,” she said. “Your date will never be able to trust you and will always wonder what else you might be lying about.”
6. “How much do you make?”
Whether you’re bragging about a raise or singing the “I have student debt” blues, financial discussions are a no-no on a first date, said Della Casa.
7. “How is online dating going for you?”
When you’ve met online, there’s no question you can ask that’s more awkward than this one, said Laurie Davis, the founder of the dating service eFlirt and author of Love At First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating.
“Reminding each other that other dating options exist forces you both to pull focus from the person sitting in front of you,” she said. “The sole purpose of a date is to see if the two of you hit it off and introducing the idea of other matches into the conversation confuses that dynamic. Focus on the present.”
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