5 things to avoid on a first date at all costs

Whether you’re swiping on Tinder or searching IRL, dating’s never going to get any easier.

Dating hasn’t been “easy” at all in recent history, of course. Countless people have waxed eloquent about how the advent of social media and dating apps makes human interaction much more complicated than it used to be. But humans have been getting love-induced headaches since the dawn of romance. Consequently, there’s no shortage of advice—from first date tips to how to define a relationship—online and in real life.

Common first date tips include “avoid politics” and “don’t sleep with them” but honestly, times have changed. Views on sociopolitical issues matter more than ever and, if theirs don’t align with yours, they probably aren’t an ideal partner. Also, if you want to go home with them after one date—and it’s safe for you to do so—go for it! If they think less of you for something so natural, drop ’em. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

So, what should you avoid? Well, a lot of “good date” behavior falls under the umbrella of common sense—i.e., don’t be a jerk, don’t inappropriately touch your date, etc. Unfortunately, respect isn’t exactly a given, so we’ve prepared a short, easy-to-remember list of first date tips.

Without further ado, here are five things to avoid on any first date—no matter you or your date’s gender or sexual orientation.

First date tips: 5 things to avoid on a first date

1) Previous romantic/intimate relations

first date tips - previous relationships Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection

First dates are not the time to press someone about their past relationship(s). Nor is the number and/or gender of their previous sexual partner(s) any of your business. It’s 2019, people. If you’re concerned about body count or people sleeping with who they like, perhaps it’s time to sit down and reflect on your priorities.

Another unfortunately common question is: “Why are you single?” Why does it matter? Why are YOU single? You’re both presumably on a date in order to find someone to share your lives with, so grilling someone about why they’re not in a relationship seems unproductive at best and condescending or invasive at worst.

2) Criticism

first date tips - criticism Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection

This should go without saying, but don’t be rude to your date. Sometimes rudeness manifests itself in obvious ways, like outright criticizing the other person’s appearance. However, disrespect is often subtle and even, on the surface, polite. Don’t offer unsolicited advice like “I think you should ___ more” or express displeasure at a benign aspect of their personality. You aren’t here to change anyone. If they don’t float your boat, don’t go on a second date.

If you’re on the receiving end of some first date unpleasantness, by all means, stand up for yourself. But other than that, be nice. Everybody’s struggling in the dating world.

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3) Phone usage

first date tips - phone usage Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection

There really is nothing more infuriating than putting yourself out there, getting all dressed up and excited, working through the butterflies, and showing up to a date only to find the other person not paying attention to you the whole time. Even if you don’t mean it to, looking at your phone instead of being completely present can make your date feel like you’re stonewalling them. Show that you care about what they have to say (and them as a person) by putting your phone away and giving them your full, undivided attention.

It can be really tempting to pull your phone back out during awkward silences. Don’t. Push through the lulls in conversation as best you can. This is practice for every other social aspect of your life, not just dating. You’ve got this.

4) Monopolizing the conversation

first date tips -monopolizing conversation Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection

You probably agreed or offered to go on a first date with this person to get to know them and, hopefully, forge a real human connection. The only way to do that is to actually engage in a two-sided conversation with them. Ask your date questions about themselves. Find out their interests. Invite them to talk about what they love. Actively listen to them as they talk so you can ask open-ended follow-up questions. Connect with them on any common ground you may share.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t talk about yourself at all, of course. Don’t go to the opposite extreme and clam up. Offer up your own thoughts. Your date should want to know more about you, too!

5) Expectations

first date tips - expectations Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection

One of the most anxiety-inducing parts of dating is understanding that you’re each showing up with a goal in mind. You’re both hoping to get something—at the very least, a second date. However, it’s important not to hike up your expectations.

Setting standards for what you’d like in a significant other is very different from harboring specific expectations from someone after a single outing. These expectations could be emotional—e.g., “I want us to click on a profound level immediately”—or physical, like “This person had better sleep with me tonight.” Hoping is fine, but expecting can be tricky. It’s important to allow for time, comfort, and growth, especially where physical desires are concerned. You’d want anyone to respect your physical and emotional boundaries, so you should do the same.

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Anna Maria Ward

Anna Maria Ward

Anna Maria Ward is the social media editor of the Daily Dot. Her work focuses on the intersections of entertainment, pop culture, and social justice. She previously contributed to the Houston Chronicle and Orange magazine.