If I asked you the top things to never do on a first date, you’d probably guess at least a few of the big no-no’s.
So, if this is common knowledge, why do so many of my dating coaching and matchmaking clients keep telling me woeful tales about lousy first date behavior?
Can you promise me something? Promise me that you’ll never, EVER again — (scout’s honor) — do any of these 5 disastrous things on a date:
1. Share your first date battle stories.
Yes, you’ve had dating disappointments — you’ve been lied to, misled and taken advantage of. You’ve got war stories, but who doesn’t?
As funny as you think your tales of woe are, retelling those tales to a new love prospect sets you up as the victim and makes your date feel like your personal garbage dump. So, rather than “go there,” just zip it! This is just a first date. Keep things up-tempo and bring the conversation back to the present and future.
2. Act distracted or not focused on your date.
Always arrive on time (or early), collected and calm, and silence your cell phone. Here’s a critical dating tip: practice being in the present and give this new person the gift of your focused, undivided attention. Narrow your peripheral vision to lock in only on the person in front of you. Awaken your natural curiosity, tune out the noise all around you, and listen attentively to every word this new person shares with you.
One of my clients just shared with me his post-date feedback from a first date with a lovely woman. He said, “What was so delightful about being with her is that she made me feel like I was the only person in the room … and the only man on her mind, which was a rare and delightful experience.”
3. Dig up your relationship history.
Some folks call it baggage, but I like to call it “history.” Whatever turbulence you’ve experienced in your past, both with your previous relationships and with your dating journey, find playful, short versions of the stories if you must share. Always frame the stories in the positive, so that YOU are presenting yourself in a positive light.
When one of my clients started dating after losing her husband to cancer, rather than dwell on the tragedy, she said, “There were gifts along the way. I got to experience enduring love; I learned that I DO have enough patience and compassion to hang in there when things get tough; I discovered strength I never knew I had; I found that I can bounce back and I value each and every day of my life.”
4. Decide too quickly that your date is a dud.
Refrain from that knee jerk reaction to categorize, define someone, veto, dismiss, and the tendency to criticize, judge, and look for flaws. Picking someone apart is NOT the way to go.
If the thing you pick at isn’t one of your top three critical criteria, then please overlook it and let it go. Instead, look to see if the three things that really matter to you are present in this person. Resist the temptation to quickly dismiss someone for something that’s really only of minor importance to you.
5. Act like a Debbie Downer.
Practice being pleasant and positive, especially when something unexpected or troubling happens on the date—there’s a wait for the table promised to you, the person you’re meeting gets caught in traffic and is late, the waiter serves you the wrong drink, or there’s an annoying draft or a crying baby invading your space.
Practice the art of letting the little things go and finding the positive spin on life’s little mishaps. If you determine that this person isn’t for you, leave him or her with dignity. Be kind and courteous, and have the courage to communicate with honesty and compassion. And don’t burn your bridges; make a new friend, no matter what.