2 September 2010
First date advice: 8 terrible conversations to have
A first date can be a bit like walking a conversational tightrope. You want to make a good impression, but you also don’t want to go overboard. So, here are 8 things you really don’t want to talk about on a first date.
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.