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 dating 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. 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 get a breather from the whole charade, 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
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.
We realize that we’re asking guys to walk a fine line here, but try to find that balance. 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 her 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.
“In the early stages of dating, it’s better to let her know that you’re thinking about her and interested in her day,” says Jeannie Assimos, spokesperson for dating website eHarmony. “Text her after the date sharing how much fun you had and that you’re looking forward to seeing her again. Don’t play hard-to-get for the fear that you’re too forward. It’s going to look like you don’t care.”
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
Phones are basically part of our bodies at this point, and yes, a lot of dating starts with the help of apps and texting. As the video below details, however, many men seem to forget to forget to put their phones away come date time. For what to do (and what not to do) on a date in the age of cellphones, give it a watch:
4. Talking About Politics
There are certainly exceptions to this. Maybe you met online and have already discussed 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.
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.
If you’re having trouble thinking of ideas, try listening.
“Focus on what she’s actually interested in rather than recommending a pre-planned date,” urges Assimos. “For example, be thoughtful and suggest a restaurant based on previous conversations. This shows that you are a good listener.”
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. 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 ideal relationship attributes 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.
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.
8. Talking Too Much About Yourself
You’re trying to make a good impression, so you start talking about your career. Not a bad plan, provided that you’re still having a conversation. If you find yourself in the middle of a monologue, cut it out.
“Instead of speaking about themselves, men should place the attention on the woman and keep her engaged by asking questions and having her speak about herself,” says James. “Women love to speak about themselves.”
That’s true, but we’ll widen that statement a bit: Everybody loves to speak about themselves. Don’t dominate the conversation, and you’ll make a much better impression while learning some valuable info about your potential partner-to-be.
“We all get nervous, but try and remember to ask her about her life and get to know her instead of just talking the night away,” says Assimos. “And when she talks, listen to what she has to say. You are going to score major points if you do that.”
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.
Oh, and don’t act like you’re not interested. That’s never a great strategy.
“Don’t keep her guessing too much,” says Assimos. “While you don’t have to confess your love during the courting stage, do let her know where your head is at and give her a glimpse of your feelings towards her.”
10. Similarly, 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 two aren’t a good fit, and be glad that it only took you a single date to figure that out.
Oh, and about faux pas, guys…here’s a bonus: Don’t make a move too quickly.
“Many women want to get to know a man before they make the next move,” James says. “The first date is often not the right time to do this and can destroy the chance of a second date. Waiting until the second date can often be a better choice [by] creating mystery and desire.”
Besides, the first date’s about getting to know someone. You’re better off conversing than locking lips—and a little bit of patience goes a long ways toward forging a real connection.