Finding a date isn’t hard, but dating sure is.
In fact, with Tinder, Bumble, and hundreds of other dating sites out there, meeting people is easier than ever. But the dates themselves can still quickly end in disaster.
Everyone has tales of terrible dates under their belt. Whether it’s the girl who wouldn’t stop talking or the guy dying to show you his collection of venomous snakes, we’ve all had more than one odd encounter when trying to find love.
But sometimes, dates are just bad, and you can’t figure out why. Do you ever stop and think, then, “Am I a dating nightmare?” You might not rave about your deadly snake collection, sure, but you could be doing one or more things that drive women insane—and out of your life. Some of these dating don’ts seem obvious, but check yourself—there’s a few that you might be guilty of.
If you don’t want to become a woman’s horror story, here are some things you should avoid at all costs during dates.
1. Too Much Talking
This can be a tough note to take, since there’s a fine line between too much talking and too little. But, in this instance, too much talking means a couple of specific things.
First: don’t run your mouth at length while never listening to what your date has to say. Constantly interrupting her is great—if you never want to see her again.
The desire to overshare usually comes from an understandable urge to sell yourself. But as Relationship Coach Laney Zuckerman says, “This is a date, not a business transaction. Keep the conversation light. Listen.”
Second: don’t ask terrible questions.
“How old are you?” “How much money do you make?” “How much do you weigh?” Dating expert and author Rich Gosse says that these are all questions that women have been asked on first dates. Guess how many women liked answering these questions? Zero.
Asking questions is a great instinct, and you may have to ask a couple basic small talk questions to break the ice. But instead of shots in the dark, try to find out what your date is interested in and ask about that. If you saw she likes to travel in her dating profile, ask about her favorite travel destination. If she said she loves Quentin Tarantino, ask which movie she likes best. This will get you into a meaningful conversation more quickly and you can start actually enjoying your date.
Now, this isn’t something that only guys do—girls are certainly guilty of oversharing. If your date is talking non-stop, just try to listen. Remember that she’s probably nervous, too, and give her the benefit of the doubt that you’d expect from her. Hopefully, you can both take a breath and start having a relaxed, at least semi-normal conversation.
2. Giving The Silent Treatment
On the flip side, staying silent can be just as bad as being a motormouth. If your date is asking questions and you only respond with “yes” or “no,” the date’s as good as dead. That doesn’t mean you have to talk about things that make you uncomfortable, but try to give a little bit of detail to every answer.
If you find yourself in the “yes/no” cycle, just add an extra little something to every answer. Like “Are you from California?” “Yes. I’ve actually lived in LA my whole life.” That’s it. Just that little bit will help start a conversation.
Often, your silent self comes out due to nerves, and, hey, it’s genuinely tough to find the balance between giving too much information and too little. Plus, some beginning date conversations are boring! But just be patient, enjoy yourself. You may have to get through a bit of smalltalk to get to the good stuff.
3. Letting Your Eyes Wander
Dating coach Heidi Krantz warns guys to keep keep their eyes in line during dates. Sure, it sounds obvious that you shouldn’t check out other women while you’re on a date, but it happens all the time.
It happened to me on a first date, actually. While I was struggling to find something to say that wasn’t completely banal (dating made me very nervous at the time), the guy decided to spend most of his time checking out the server’s cleavage with great focus. Nothing makes you feel more disposable than a guy checking out his other options while you’re sitting right in front of him.
To be fair, I’ve also had a waitress flirt HARD with the guy I was on a date with. She even took the time to insult my food order, as if that would somehow make her look cool. Sadly, the waitress never got his number, and I didn’t get a second date, so I guess it wasn’t meant to be.
Anyway, my point is: Dance with who brung ya. In plainer terms, pay attention to your date, men and women alike. Yes, there might be some real hot people all around you—you can look at them all later. For the length of your date, your eyes need to stay on the person you’ve asked to be there.
4. Insult Her Life Goals
Again, this sounds so obvious. Who goes on a date and says “Wow, your whole life sounds stupid”? Well, nobody says it quite like that, but there are smaller ways a guy can diminish a girl’s entire life and career with a couple sentences.
A woman we’ll call Jamie told FashionBeans about memorable first date. She’d been talking to a guy online and she was excited to finally meet him in person. Jamie’s an aspiring screenwriter, and she has over 11 years of improv comedy experience. When she brought this up, the guy proceeded to explain how improv works for the next 30 minutes.
He didn’t care that she was literally an expert in improv, he had to tell her how it worked. He never asked for her opinion or knowledge, he simply gave his ill-informed insight into her career.
This is incredibly insulting, and it isn’t uncommon. A woman we’ll call Jessica told FashionBeans that she went out on a first date and told the guy that she wanted to be an actress. “That’s a big dream,” he said before proceeded to tell her what a poor career choice that was.
Whether you feel the need to explain a woman’s career to her or if you think she has a terrible life plan—keep it to yourself! People’s goals and dreams are very sensitive and for a stranger to utterly dismiss them is hurtful and out of line.
If you think your date has a stupid dream, just change the subject. Talk about something else. Maybe she thinks your job is stupid, too. Hopefully, she won’t bring it up and will instead focus on your positive qualities. You can do the same.
5. Be Glued To Your Phone
Get off your phone! If you’re constantly texting during your date, the girl will feel like an afterthought even though she’s sitting right in front of you.
If for some reason you need to do something on your phone, do it quickly, then apologize. It’s not impossible that your mom could text ten times over dinner. If that happens, just say “Sorry, I just need to send a quick text,” then take care of business.
If we’re on a dinner date and you’re texting other people the whole time I’m gonna “go to the bathroom” and never come out again
— lil sweetheart (@graaacexo_) August 25, 2017
If you can’t seem to keep your eyes off your phone, force yourself to listen. When my attention wanders (it happens to girls, too), I look my date in the eyes and start repeating what they’re saying to myself. So when he says, “I work in IT,” I quickly say to myself “He works in IT.” I do this silently, of course, otherwise I’d look like a nutbag. But by repeating his words, it forces me to actually listen. I’ll eventually find something interesting in what he’s saying and my phone addiction fades away.
6. Talking About Exes
Four relationship experts spoke separately to FashionBeans, and they all said one thing: “Don’t talk about your ex.”
If you’re breakup is fresh, this can be incredibly hard. Maybe something you’re talking about makes you think of your ex. According to Nicole Karslake, certified life, relationship, and career coach: “Yes, events, activities, sounds, and smells can all trigger memories. Just keep those memories in your head, and don’t let them exit your mouth.”
When you bring up your ex, your date immediately feels like she has to live up to the standard of a person she doesn’t even know. Plus, no one likes hearing about the exes of people they like—do you like hearing about the hot guys your girlfriends used to date? Probably not.
Talking about your ex is a sure way to make the date awkward and make her feel unwanted. If your ex’s name does slip out of your mouth, just let it go. Don’t bring her up again and the rest of the dinner should go just fine.
7. Not Tipping
This is a small thing, but it makes a big impression. When you pick up the check (which is nice to do for a first date) but leave no or a very small tip, you immediately look cheap. Not in a thrifty, “I save money by shopping at Goodwill” kind of way, but in an “I’m Ebeneezer Scrooge-in-training” kind of way.
Going on a date to a restaurant makes me nervous because it is a huge deal breaker if you’re a bad tipper.
— samantha. (@sammy_8584) May 4, 2017
It also shows that you don’t care about the server’s work or time, which seems disrespectful. That doesn’t mean you need to dole out a hundo with every meal, just make sure you leave a 20 percent tip.
8. Try To Make Her Drink
Okay, this one is a little more serious.
Now, it’s perfectly fine to want a drink or two on a date, but if your date isn’t in the mood for one, don’t pressure her. You can ask “Would you like a drink?” but if she says “No,” then that’s the end of it.
You might want her to drink because you think it’ll loosen you both up, because you’re just trying to be friendly, or because you don’t want to drink alone. But if you start forcing the issue, things can get weird.
Trying to give her a drink sends her a really bad message. In fact, she may think you’ll want to force her to do other things, which is about the worst first impression you could make.
With the Harvey Weinstein allegations in the news and the #metoo movement on social media, harassment has never been more visible. Weinstein reportedly did many awful things, but he’s alleged to have often started by encouraging girls like Kate Beckinsale to drink and stay in his hotel room. Soon after the stories broke, women all over social media—not just celebrities—shared their stories of being touched or forced to do things they didn’t want to do, often by people on dates.
Date tells me “Well then how am I going to get your clothes off?” when I tell him I don’t drink.
— Melissa (@melissamkraemer) October 17, 2017
Now, I don’t bring this up to accuse you of anything this awful. But you should know why women are extra sensitive around drinks. Many women have encountered awful things after a drink, so if she wants to stay sober, respect her wishes.
It’s Not Just You
Like I said, dating is hard, and guys aren’t the only ones making dating mistakes, either. We’re all guilty of taking too much, or too little, or checking our phones, or checking out the employees. Dating makes people nervous, and sometimes it brings out the worst in us.
But for dating, there’s one important word to remember—respect. If you treat your date and yourself with respect, you’ll have a good time. Treating your date with respect means you’ll listen to her and respect her life goals and values; Treating yourself with respect means not trying to act like someone else, but revealing as much of your true, respectful, considerate self as possible. You’ll never bat 1.000, but remembering that respect is the key to a decent date will take you a long way.