Dating tips: What to Avoid on a First Date

During my first year living in California, a friend of mine said to me: “Roz, if a man asks me on a first date, I will always go. I will always give him that first date – because it takes a lot of courage for a man to ask out the woman he is interested in. And by giving him that chance, I might be pleasantly surprised by him.”
And so began my ‘season’ of first dates, where I tried to honour the courage of every man who approached me.

Of course by now you must have figured out that my very first date with the very first guy was not destiny.
You’re right – it was not destiny. It was a disaster.

And so were many of the other dates I went on. Granted, there have been a few success stories (hope in humanity restored), although the good ones have been few and far between.
The sad part is (and this breaks my heart) that most of the guys I went on dates with were genuinely really great guys. But somehow, certain things that they did or said during those first dates were enough to make me not want to stick around for more. Looking back, I am able to identify the crucial deal-breaking moments  – and I feel that by having this information, it is now my human responsibility to pass it on to the good guys out there who are just not making it to those second dates.

So, let me guide you through these common first date mistakes that most men seem to make:


The very first thing someone will notice is how their date presents themself. This includes their car (if they have one). No, the car does not need to be an amazing top-of-the-range car, but it should be clean.

And the same applies to you. You should be clean, your clothes should be clean, your breath should be fresh, and you should look neat, tidy and… appropriately dressed! Wearing crumpled grey shorts with egg stains on them paired with a cat-haired covered shirt that smells of sweat is NOT going to help you ace this date (yes, I have experienced this). In fact, I could say that this will disqualify you from the game immediately.



I once agreed to a first date where we decided to meet at the entrance of the local cinema. The guy showed up 20 minutes late without an excuse or apology. GUYS!


There is nothing worse than going out with someone who is rude to the waitron, the staff and people around you. The moment a person treats someone with disrespect (no matter who the person is), I’m out. This indicates a major character issue that I and most people do not want to have to deal with. The same goes for how they speak about their family, their friends,  co-workers and themself. If they are putting people down, criticizing them or saying nasty things about them – well then, I can be fairly certain they will say the same about me someday.



A person who constantly puts themself down is not humble. They are insecure and have a low self-esteem. Which means that they have some serious stuff to work out before they are dateable (and this ‘stuff’ CAN be worked out – but it takes effort and a willingness to become a better, healthier and more secure person).

On the flip side, arrogance is just as unattractive – if not more so. Arrogance is not confidence. Arrogance is rooted in deep insecurity. (Read: How to be Confident (Without Faking))


Making inappropriate jokes is not cool. I’m not a prude and I can enjoy a bit of dirty humour – but there is a line. On a first date you are still testing the waters and you don’t want to go plunging in with your penis jokes. It most likely won’t be appreciated.
Also, any kind of discriminatory or twisted humour is not funny. Jokes that are prejudiced and discriminate against any group of people, or that are at the expense of another, are not okay. They just suggest that you are a jerk.  Stay away from those completely.

However, worse than having bad humour is having no humour at all. Or maybe they are on par with each other. I’m still trying to figure out which is worse.



Bad topics of conversation include (but are not confined to):

  1. Anything where you find yourself droning on and on about any one topic
  2. Anything too technical
  3. Anything too intense or deeply personal
  4. Making the conversation all about you, and not about your date
  5. Anything too controversial
  6. Talking too loudly

A GOOD conversation looks like:

  1. Asking your date questions about themself
  2. Finding common ground and DISCUSSING mutual interests (where BOTH people are talking)

I have sat through long lectures on cement, bugs, and CUTS OF MEAT.
Don’t do that to your date.
Just don’t.

They don’t care.



When it comes to the check (or the ‘bill’) it’s a bit of a controversial topic. Does one person pay, or do both pay?
But more than the check, there is a bigger turn off: A person who has a poverty mindset. I’m talking about the kind of person who will constantly be fretting about every penny they spend, working out the check to the very last dime and who is always commenting on the prices of things.
I can’t even tell you how much of a turn-off this is.

My absolute favourite disaster-date moment when it came to sorting out the check between myself and a date was this:
The check came and he said casually, “Oh, you’ll have to pay. I left my wallet at home.”

And that is how I ended up hungry and petrol-less for a week because I was a student and I had spent my last bit of cash on HIM (who was neither a student nor jobless).



All I’m saying is: Pick a nice environment. Not a rushed or stressed environment. It doesn’t have to be the most pricey or fanciest restaurant, but a Big Mac or a KFC bucket is not going to help you win their heart.
Find out what they like, but KNOW YOURSELF too.
I’ve spent many evenings alone at a table with the food while my dates were in the bathroom (doing only-the-Lord-knows-what) because they couldn’t handle the ethnic restaurant I had chosen or that they had tried to impress me with.


Looking around and checking out other people while you are on a date is not okay.

Your date will notice. Even if you think you’re being discreet.


The number one way to make your date feel ignored and disrespected. Need I say more?


You want to get to know your date, not interrogate them or interview her for the role of Mrs or Mr (fill in the blank). I’ve had this interview process too many times. It’s pretty intense for a first date.




Trying too hard to impress usually has the opposite than intended effect. I once had a guy bend the cutlery of the restaurant into weird shapes in an attempt to prove his strength to me.

Aaaand you guessed it! No second date for him either.

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Negativity is a natural repellent for people. But worse, negatively commenting on your date’s appearance or her choice of food is the absolute worst thing you can do on a date.


I cannot stress this enough.

A guy once proceeded to tell me how much he liked girls with small boobs, and that mine were bigger than what he usually liked.


It is not okay to EVER make negative comments about someone’s body.

I felt crap about myself for days after my date said that to me. I even considered getting a breast reduction. I’m so glad I didn’t go change my body because of one person’s snide remark, because I learned to love myself regardless of what others think. (Read: Are you beautiful? I asked 100 men what ‘physical beauty’ is and the results shocked me)

It is also not okay to comment on the fact that your date ordered fries instead of a salad…

I’m not claiming to have aced every first date myself (I KNOW that I haven’t), and from reading this you might draw up the conclusion that I have dated a bunch of freaks. But the truth is, they were all just ordinary guys who were all awesome in their own ways, but who just didn’t have a clue as to how to conduct themselves on a date. And because of that, they never got a second one.

Well, not from me anyway.

NEXT: 5 Qualities Women Want in a Partner

ALSO READ: First date tips: How to have a successful first date




  1. datingflops

    Totally agree with you there. But not only are there the ones that turn up late, but ones that never show up at all! If they don’t want to meet or cannot meet. At least message. #13 Don’t waste a woman’s time.

    1. Rozanne

      Oh man! That’s terrible! And then you’re the noob sitting alone waiting for someone at the dinner table.
      I hope that hasn’t happened/never happens to you.

      I have had that too. That, and last minute cancellations right when you are all dressed up and ready to go… so you stay at home eating chocolate and ice cream for dinner. Just a romantic dinner with you and the calories.

      And GREAT point!

  2. Loribeth

    I once had a guy email me three weeks after the first and only time we met for coffee to tell me that I would have better luck with dating if I changed my laugh… Now, I know I have a very distinctive laugh. It’s one that people either love or hate. Fortunately, I’ve known this all my life, so I was prepared. I told him that he’d have better luck if he didn’t give rude unsolicited advice.

      1. Loribeth

        Thank you. It was a long time ago, and I’m happily married now. 🙂 I don’t even remember that guy’s name. I just thought that when it comes to ways to lose a girl in one date, my experience kind of topped the list.

  3. Sarah R.

    I had that interrogation on a date once- it was a blind date set up for me by my (wait for it….) therapist at the time, and he was obviously fishing for very exact, religious answers. I played with his head, too. It was fun!

    My very first date was a guy who brought his lunch to my office and ate it in front of me, guilted me into a date that Wednesday (when I had told him I could NOT go out until after that) and took me to Pizza Hut. A good idea, really, in the very small town I lived in. Until he walked up and told the waitress he’d made reservations, she had seated us, and brought out his favorite pizza and two extra-large cokes. I LOVE pizza. I do NOT love pepperoni with jalapeños and mushrooms. I also (as a long-standing picky eater) do NOT like picking at my food in public. The jalapenos I could deal with (and tried to, until one of them crunched exactly like an onion and I nearly vomited on the table), but the mushrooms had to go, and I spent several minutes picking them off. To make it even more fun- when I politely declined a second piece, he said there was plenty and I needed another one, and shoveled it on my plate.

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