Dating is difficult.
We get that. If you're going to put yourself out there, you're inevitably going to make a few mistakes.
But sometimes guys can come off as oblivious, obnoxious, or uninterested—even when they're really trying. Many of the most common mistakes can be easily avoided, provided that you're aware of them.
With that said, here are a few common mistakes that can end a date really quickly (and what to do instead).
1. Starting out by Acknowledging the Awkwardness of Dating
Dating is a bit awkward, especially if you've been out of the game for a while. Nobody's blaming you for getting the jitters.
However, talking about how awkward it is will only make the situation worse. Your goal should be to show confidence, and if you're not feeling confident, act confident anyway. To break the ice, ask your date about herself or talk about something of general interest, but don't focus on anything negative.
2. Alternatively, Trying to Act Too Nonchalant
We realize that we're asking guys to walk a fine line here. If you're trying really hard to to come off as carefree, you might seem like you don't care, and she'll wonder why she's spending time with you.
Find the middle ground. Show confidence, but make it clear that you're interested in her and invested in the date. The way you approach conversation is particularly important. Ask questions, and really listen. Don't use your questions as an opportunity to launch into your own stories. Don't try to dominate the conversation. Let it happen naturally, and if she's a good match for you, you'll enjoy the experience.
Whatever you do, don't listen to those websites that tell you to be rude to women (or to outright ignore them) to try to get a reaction. They call it "negging," but we call it "acting like a complete moron." Not only is negging ineffective, it's offensive, and she'll be right to end the date early.
3. Spending a Sizable Percentage of the Date on Your Phone
Smartphones are amazing little devices, but they can easily ruin a date. Apart from calling a cab or using your GPS to get directions, your phone shouldn't leave your pocket while you're out with someone. Ignore your messages, resist the urge to check your email, and never, ever stop to snap a selfie.
This is especially important during the first date, and the biggest phone faux pas is shutting down conversation by looking up a fact. She might want to playfully argue about whether Sinbad was in a '90s genie comedy (he wasn't, by the way), and when you pull up IMDb, the conversation will die instantly.
Even if you avoid this type of mistake on a first date, as the relationship becomes more involved, you'll start to slip. Make a rule for yourself: No phones during date time. Seriously.
4. Talking About Politics
There are certainly exceptions to this. Maybe you met online and you've already addressed a few political topics. But in general, this sucks the romance out of the evening.
Politics are important, but they're also exhausting. Even when you're on the same side of a politically charged issue, bringing it up will remove that feeling of whimsical excitement that comes with a really well-planned date. Save it for a more appropriate setting.
Oh, by the way...
5. Not Planning Something Interesting
If you asked her on the date, it's your job to do some planning. Nothing's worse than getting in a guy's car and hearing, "So, do you want to eat somewhere, or…"
Plan out each part of the evening. You don't have to go over the top (on a first date, that's actually a really bad move), but make sure you know where you're headed. Otherwise things are going to get really awkward, really quickly.
6. Making a Big Deal About Who Pays
Guys will often insist on paying, but some women aren't into that. We're not saying who's right and who's wrong; the point is that it shouldn't be a big deal. If you're sneaking over to grab the check from the waiter or making a big show out of pulling out your credit card, you're doing something wrong.
Here's your game plan: If she insists on going Dutch, go along with it. If she expects you to pay (and the date was your idea), go along with it. If you offer to pay and she refuses to let you...go along with it. It's really not very complicated.
7. Booking an Expensive Restaurant for a First Date
In fact, dinner is a generally bad idea. First dates should be light and simple. You want to be able to get to know each other, but either party should feel comfortable ending the date if it's not going well. Consider going to a coffee shop, getting lunch, or heading to a park—something that isn't too involved.
Alternatively, you can recommend a fun activity, but make sure she knows what's up before the date starts. Otherwise she might show up to your romantic ice skating date in heels and a dress.
8. Talking Too Much About the Future...or the Past
Let's say that you've known your date for a while, and you're excited to finally take her out. You might think that this is going somewhere serious, and if it is, that's wonderful.
But don't try to hash out all of your hypothetical relationship details over a single cup of coffee. Don't ask about whether she's planning to have kids, where her career's going, or whether she's picked out her wedding dress yet. Just take a step back and enjoy the evening.
You should also be careful not to talk about past relationships. Don't bring up ex-girlfriends, and don't ask her about her ex-boyfriends. You might think that you're simply looking for common ground, but it comes off as a little bit strange.
Actually, if we're being honest, it's extremely unsettling, and it doesn't do much for your prospects. On a first or second date, you should be trying to get to know each other on a very basic level. Don't get impatient and start pressing for personal details or relationship histories.
9. Playing Games
You might have read online that you should always answer questions with questions or that you should try to touch her arm early in the date or that you should show up 10 minutes late to create a sense of urgency.
All of that advice is terrible. Women can tell when you're trying to trick them into liking you—and for the most part, it'll make them like you less.
10. Overanalyzing the Things She Says or Does
She might playfully poke fun at your shirt or make an offhand comment about how you're nothing like she expected. Don't assume that she's trying to criticize you.
Guys can get remarkably touchy, especially in the early stages of a relationship. Some men will analyze everything—from the chair a woman chooses at a restaurant to the way she changes her hair for a second date. These little details might mean something, but...well, probably not. Overanalysis won't do anything but ruin your confidence.
11. Giving up After a Minor Faux Pas
Well, it happened: You made a mistake. You insisted on paying, or you showed up late, or you brought up a touchy subject.
Don't immediately give up on the rest of the date. Apologize (if necessary) and move on. You've got plenty of time to recover, and if she still seems interested, there's no reason to change your plans. Everybody makes little mistakes from time to time, and she's not going to hold a lifelong grudge simply because you forgot the name of the company she works for.
Of course, the opposite is also true. If you're getting clear signs that it's not going well, you shouldn't pressure her for a second date. Have enough confidence in yourself to acknowledge that you're not a great fit for this woman, and be glad that it only took you a single date to figure that out.