Let’s face it…first dates can be intimidating, but you so got this. While it can sometimes feel like you’re preparing for a job interview instead of a date thanks to those first-date jitters—i.e., triple-checking yourself out in the mirror (“Does this jacket scream, “I’m trying too hard?”)—the thrill and rush you feel after meeting that person you just click with is, well, magical. And first dates are always full of exciting surprises—after all, you’re opening yourself up to someone in a vulnerable way. Don’t worry if you need a little help before the big date (we’ve all been there). That’s why we’ve rounded up seven things to avoid bringing up during your conversation to make sure it all goes smoothly.
8 Things You Should Never Say on a First Date
1. Too much talk about your ex
Talking about an ex with your date will only make them feel uncomfortable and raise reasonable red flags. Suddenly, there’s a third person on your date, and that’s, well…awkward. The ex-talk is a clear sign that you may not be over your past relationship and therefore not ready for a new one. Leave the past relationship comparisons off the table and focus on getting to know the person who’s on the date with you.
2. Any weirdly personal questions
While it’s important to get to know a person by asking the thoughtful questions and establishing an emotional connection, remember that it’s not an interrogation. Obviously, take the temperature of the conversation and what you want out of it. For example, a question like “What would your parents think of me?” could be stepping over the line, or based on the vibes of the date, could be totally fine. If you’re concerned about crossing a boundary, focus on letting the conversations flow organically rather than coming prepared with a plethora of questions to check off the list.
3. Sex talk and Only sex talk
Sex could totally come up on the date if it’s something you’re both comfortable getting into, but on a first date, if your intentions are to go beyond the bedroom (and hey, totally OK if they’re not!), focusing only on sex could keep you from really getting to know the person sitting across from you. Plus, people’s sexualities vary wildly, and you could be opening a big ole’ can of worms you’re not ready to take on at this very early stage in a potential relationship. Not to mention, even if you’re totally sex positive and talking about what turns you on is like chatting about the last book your read, your date might feel like boundaries are being crossed.
4. Love bombing
Aimée Lutkin, author of The Lonely Hunter: How Our Search for Love Is Broken, and dater extraordinaire, says, “Once anyone starts love bombing on a first date, I’m super turned off.” Love bombing is a tactic used to manipulate and gain control over another person by appearing blatantly vulnerable, lovey and romantic (often in a sudden and cringey way). If a date pours the romance on thick during the first date, Lutkin warns it’s a sign of codependency.
5. Food shaming
Don’t yuck their yum! Passing judgement on someone’s food or drink order can feel like a knife to the heart. Food is deeply personal. It’s also cultural. It can be offensive and insensitive to turn your head at something your date wants to eat. Not to mention, you don’t know if your date struggles with food or addiction. So try to stay away from seemingly simple comments like, “You didn’t touch your pasta!” or “You’re not drinking?”
6. Comments about someone’s age
It’s totally OK to ask your date about their age, but be careful with your response. Even if you meant, “You’re only 27?!” as a compliment, pointing out an age difference can make your date feel judged and more on edge.
7. Rageful diatribes
It’s completely acceptable to let your date know that the smell of seafood makes you nauseous or that wearing mismatched socks is a pet-peeve, but be careful as not to go off on an accidental 15-minute rant. And especially refrain from talking poorly of other people. Focusing too closely on the negative can lead to a downwards spiral in the conversation, which in turn can spoil the evening. Lutkin notes that people tend to feel put off when a person tells ugly stories about the people close to them, “[If your date is] already talking shit about the people in their life they supposedly cared about at some point, they will definitely do the same to you someday.”
8. Judging their dating history
So you’re halfway through your bowl of miso soup when you find out that your date has never been in a serious relationship or appears to be a serial-dater. That’s OK. If your date chooses to divulge personal and intimate details from their past, don’t be so quick to fall into toxic habits and pass judgement. Their past dating life was fueled by various reasons and situations that will most likely get revealed at some point in the relationship, or maybe they won’t—after all, it’s in the past. And assuming who your date is after hearing only bits and pieces of their past relationship history can sabotage something good.