Relationship Advice

First date advice: 8 terrible conversations to have


We know that you’ve been on dates where you just wish the other person would SHUT UP. Where you want to shake them to stop them talking about a particular thing, but your polite gene kicks in and you just sit and nod until you can find a more subtle way to escape the conversation.

This doesn’t have to happen though. Daters across the world don’t have to sit through interminably boring and annoying first date conversations. Be one of the daters who makes a change – read this article, remember it, and pass on the message to all your single friends too.

1.    Your romantic past
First dates are all about you and your date, they’re nothing to do with your ex. Your ex should be completely off your mind, and certainly not the topic of conversation. If you’re being negative – ‘She kept all my CDs, thieving cow’ – you’ll come across as bitter, and certainly not as the friendly, relaxed date you promised you’d be in your profile. If the story is positive – ‘He’s so supportive, we’ve become really great friends since the break up’ – you’ll just sound like you’re not ready to move on.

The biggest faux pas? Dropping an irrelevant reference to your ex into conversation; this will show you just can’t get them off your mind. We’re not saying you shouldn’t mention your ex at all, there might be a natural point in the conversation when the come up, but leave it at that.

2.    Your huge wealth (or lack of)

Yakking on about your amazing holiday to the Bahamas last year, or the fact that you’ve just bought a new Lotus doesn’t make you sound desirable. In fact it makes you sound like a self-obsessed show off. Ask yourself, ‘Is what I am about to say conversationally relevant or interesting?’, because if it’s not you should keep your mouth shut. If, on the other hand, your date is thinking about going on a skiing holiday and you can recommend a particular resort then that instantly makes that topic ok to talk about.  Just don’t then go on to talk about ‘this amazing fondue place we went to where we just drowned in champers’.

Conversely, if money’s tight, talking about how little you earn or how you can’t afford a holiday this year will make your date feel uncomfortable and will also seem like you’re angling for them to pick up the bill.

3.    Your dim and distant past
Think about a first date as being all about what you’re up to now. Your date wants to know about who you are in the present, not about all the amazing times you had in your university days, or when you spend a year travelling around South America. We’re sure all those things we’re great fun, but they’re in the past, and anything you talk about at length from your past will make your present seem rather dull.

4.    Your soapbox
If you’re a vegetarian, for example, that fact will probably come up on a date, especially if you’re eating out. That’s fine and it’s likely your date will want to know more about your life choice. However, you’re making a huge mistake if you see this as a starting point for a debate about animal rights. Even if your date agrees with you, chances are they don’t want to be preached at, especially by someone they thought they were going to have a nice relaxing evening with. Date time should be used to get to know each other, not to recruit new people to your cause.

5.    Your wild days

Ah yes, that time at university where you drank so much snakebite you agreed to streak through the Union and then vomited more than you ever have in your life. Over the bar. We’re all grownups here, and we’ve all done things we regret, whether they were drink, drug or just youth inspired. But proudly recounting those stories cements two things in your dates mind: a) this person doesn’t have anything interesting to say about their present and b) this person seems to hold the stupid things they’ve done in the past in far too high regard.

6.    Your job. In great detail.

People who enjoy their jobs, do so because they find the little details of their day to day work fascinating. Unfortunately, your date doesn’t care about the minutiae of a presentation on work place efficiency that you’re putting together. There are exceptions – if you’re a TV producer who met Katie Price last week (‘Oh the things I could tell you about her!’) then you might have a captive audience. But unless you’ve got something really juicy to recount don’t bother.

Also, if you really hate your job there’s no bigger turn off than you moaning about it on a first date. Whether it’s that John from accounts was promoted over you despite the fact that you know for sure that he steals from the stationary cupboard, or that your manager Wendy took all the credit for your great idea, your date doesn’t care. Sure, they’ll be interested in what you do, but now is not the time for a monologue about it.

7.    Your health
We’re sorry you’ve had a fungal nail infection for the last month, and we’re really sorry that you have painful bouts of gastroenteritis, but this is not flirty first date talk. First dates are the marshmallow of the dating world – light, fluffy and fun. Health and high energy is attractive, monthly hospital appointments aren’t. Leave the medical chat to your friends and family who are duty bound to listen and sympathise. If you have a serious condition such as diabetes, then you might want to share on later dates, but unless you think your date really needs to know, you’re best off keeping quiet on your first meeting.

8.    Your dating life
We all know that when you’re ‘dating’ chances are you might have other dates lined up, but it’s not a good idea to highlight this fact. Whatever your date knows deep down, on your date they want to feel like they’re your true focus, and talking about other dates you’re going on that week won’t come off well.

Similarly, talking about how many, or how few, dates you’ve been on in the past few years isn’t a good idea. Too many and your date will wonder why you haven’t found anyone to stick with yet. Too few and your date will wonder what it is about you that they’ve missed that’s put other people off. This sounds cruel, we know, and everyone has varying kinds of luck – for one thing, we’ve all been through ‘dry patches’. But openly talking about it on a date just opens you up to judgement.

What do you think? Have you experienced these first date conversation disasters? Do you have any more to add to the list? Add your comments below.

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10 thoughts on “First date advice: 8 terrible conversations to have

  1. Number 4 … specifically the vegetarian thing. I was on a first date a couple of years ago (lunch date, as per recommendations), and the chemistry on email had been pretty good. I already knew she was a vegetarian, and so before ordering I asked her if she would mind if I ordered a BLT – fully prepared to select a veggie option if it was an issue for her. She said it was fine, I should go ahead. When it arrived though, the rant started.

    Apparently she could stand the smell of pretty much any meat other than bacon, but bacon just made her want to vomit. And then continued with how she didn’t think anyone should be allowed to eat meat unless they have personally gone and hunted, slaughtered and cooked it themselves. Which seemed an odd view for a vegetarian to have, but there you go.

    Possibly, I can take a bit of the blame because maybe I should have just gone for the veggie option out of politeness… but even so, I thought it was a bit of a major reaction on her part.

    In the stunned silence that followed the (almost 5 minute long) rant, we both realised that the date was pretty much over at that point. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone eat a sandwich that fast. On the plus side, this was about 3 days before Christmas so at least I had the whole afternoon to finish my Christmas shopping!

  2. I loved Andrew’s story! I’ve had a poor experience with someone who, over the telephone, told me how to strip a Jeep because he thought I would be interested. Apparently it was what he spent most of his spare time doing. It transpired he’d never learned to drive however…

    I am so glad that wasn’t on a date.

  3. Steve, Manchester

    September 12, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    great story Andrew and you had a lucky escape – imagine what a pain in the neck she would be as a g/f if she’s that rude and ignorant to someone who she has just met. you should have told her “no wonder you’re single”.

    she knew you weren’t a veggie – you asked if a BLT was ok – she approved and then still went off on one.

    it’s like a non smoker who hates cigs arranging to meet a smoker knowing full well that the person is a smoker and then moaning when they light up even though the smoker first asked if it was ok.

    you can’t win with people like that.

  4. Spot on and the story about the vegetarian rant followed by stunned silence got me in stitches. Some people clearly lack social skills. I hope Andrew, you had a better luck since then:-)
    Good luck mate.

  5. My worst first date experience was actually occurred within the first ten minutes of the date, when the date i was with started tutting and sighing regarding the menu. When I had asked what was wrong, he replied that he had to be selective about the food he had due to the medical emergency he had a month ago. Without any prompting he then proceeded to go onto say that he had suffered terrible constipation and had strained so much that his bowels prolapsed. He then went on to say that he spent 5 hours in A & E before the Doctors fixed the situation, or so he thought when go into his car and passed wind- oops bowels prolapsed again- cue my horrified expression. He then stated that he decided to forgo waiting again and since then, has learned to manually re-insert said prolapse when he passes wind, eats certain types of food or indeed needs to use the bathroom, of which he kindly pointed out roughly takes an hour, and that he hasn’t tried having sex with such medical difficulties. He then at that point, announced that ironically after telling me his medical woes that he needed to use the bathroom, and I am ashamed to say that when he excused himself, I legged it. My dates since that have not lived up to that bowels guy experience lols

  6. Robert(Manchester)

    September 20, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    I must admit Ashleigh that reading your story made me snigger a little bit,but I have to say in all honesty that I would have legged it too.In fact being serious for a minute,anyone who starts giving out their hard life stories be it on a date or via e mail beforehand could well be a scammer trying to con you,and sadly that does seem to happen quite a lot,so you might well have saved yourself a lot of hassle,hence you did the right thing.

  7. The amount of past dates I have had where 90% of them have banged on relentlesly about their Ex’s and their past (in their teens!!) I can only say how I wished I was getting open heart surgery without aenaesthetic rather than listen to them telling me things that I did not want to know nor care about on a first date! Instant Put Off Guys!!!! needless to say I never saw any of them again. And the worst thing about it was several when I told them why they became very abusive towards me rather than take it as a lesson for the future! But its a good way to see what they are made of when you point out a not so good character trait!!! :-)

  8. Ashleigh I have collapsed….Laughing my head off!! Poor you! I would have done the same honestly!
    I was on a blind date 8 years ago and the guy had totally decieved me re his height, looks, build, well everything really!! We went to the pictures and when he went to put his arm around me I said I needed the loo and legged it out the cinema and with 4 inch heels I nearly broke the 300 meter sprint to the bus station and whilst on the bus I got 2 texts asking me if my stomach was ok lol. Lesson learned for me I will NEVER go on a blind date again!

  9. Like many men, I suppose that I feel that I have not been on many dates but probably I have been on more than most!

    I would like to tell you about one several years ago which was a potential disaster, but regardless, I managed to keep it as a perfect date although perhaps that was not necessarily the best thing to have done. I still feel uncomfortable about it.

    This was a blind date with a lady from Zimbabwe who lived in Milton Keynes. I chose a very romantic Chinese restaurant by a lake. A good restaurant in a lovely setting and a beautiful warm summer evening.

    I stopped outside her address and called her to say I was outside. She came out a few minutes later and I was pleased to see that she was nice looking although not dressed to go out. Of course it was only her room mate who had probably beed sent to check that I was safe and reasonable looking.

    After a further, rather long, 10 minutes she came out. She had obviously taken a lot of trouble with her makeup and what looked like an expensive new dress. But the problem for me was that she was very flat chested and had large hips which made her look even worse.

    I had no problem deciding that although she was totally the wrong shape for me, there was no point in my making her feel aweful and spoiling her confidence so the only solution was to enjoy the evening and her company.

    She was very relaxed and friendly and we enjoyed a very romantic evening, a lovely meal and a walk along the edge of the lake afterwards in the moonlight.

    Now this is where it went all wrong. She obviously very much enjoyed the evening and liked me as well. But I ignored her calls the next day and never spoke to her again.

    Now I know that in many ways I was wrong in the way that I dealt with the situation. But had I abandoned the evening there was nothing else for me to do and she was good company so no reason to do that. In any case I am sympathetic to others feelings so I did my best to make it perhaps the most enjoyable evening of her life.

    Not ever speaking to her again is something that I still wonder about. She must have felt so disappointed about that. But I did not know what to say to her and I still dont know what I could have said which would not have hurt her feelings!


  10. Oh my god Steve, man up!!! Lol. “I had a really nice time but I’m sorry I just didn’t feel that spark”. Done!! The whole not answering calls texts thing is really unfair and disrespectful (yes it’s happened to me!! Haha). Much better to be a grown up about it x

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