4 Subjects to Avoid on A First Date

In the (darkly funny) movie HAPPINESS, two characters are out on their first date when the woman tells the dude about how she killed her doorman. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that's better left to the SECOND date. ... What other topics should you skip till you get to know each other better?


I had an Internet date on Friday night.

The dude was quite cute, with a big flop of sandy blonde hair and a tiny gap between his teeth. He was younger than me (of course) by six years. His look was both preppy and kind of arty: He had on khakis and a blue-striped dress shirt, but he was also wearing a cool navy hoody that had elbow patches, and a brown navy cap. He works in finance, but clearly didn't think his job was all that cool--adamant as he was that his work was separate from the rest of his life.

A side note: This happens quite frequently in New York City: people with perfectly respectable--and very lucrative--jobs apologize for not doing something more interesting with their lives. When I was younger and dumber, I used to think: Yes, your job IS kind of boring! And I'd rather date someone who's doing something creative with his life. Now that I'm older, wiser, and a little less crazy (just a little), there's something very appealing about meeting men who can actually afford to both pay their rent and even take me out to dinner. And I think two of the most eligible bachelors I know--my friends Kermie Ottawa (a banker) and Bear Cummings (a lawyer)*--are dudes who genuinely enjoy their "boring" jobs and find them intellectually stimulating; they also happen to have a wider range of interests and knowledge than most of the "artsy" guys I know. (Plus, they're really nice.)

Anyway ... I knew Sandy Financester had a snazzy job but was also a big fan of visual art and indie music; I imagined he might be like Kermie and Bear. Nice! ... But at the same time, the two of us had spoken a couple times on the phone, and while the chats were perfectly pleasant, they were also a little too polite. Which is to say kind of boring. So I stalled a bit, when it came to meeting up. Finally, though, on Friday, I had nothing else going on so I agreed to hang with him.

As I biked over to the wine bar where we were meeting, I began thinking: Why not just KISS HIM at the end?! Even--perhaps especially--if I'm not that into him? I only live once!

By the time I arrived at Olivino, I was totally sold on my kissing-bandit scheme.

Unfortunatley, however, it was impossible to execute. While Sandy was incredibly sweet and very cute, we didn't have an ounce of chemistry. The experience wasn't unpleasant, and the time passed quite quickly ...but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking that if I got home early enough, I'd be able to squeeze in a DVD before bed. So we politely parted ways after a couple hours, and I rushed back home to watch the Netflick that had just arrived: the very dark Todd Solodnz comedy HAPPINESS.

In which a female character tells a male character--a guy from her building--about how she killed their doorman.

Not really such a brilliant first-date topic.

It occurred to me that I had dropped one small bomb myself, while Sandy and I were sipping our temperanillos: I'd talked about a once dear friend of mine whom I'd "broken up" for reasons that are too complicated to go into in this post. Unfortunately, I did go into the details with Sandy--and that story is really a little too dark for first-date banter. By that point, of course, I'd decided I wasn't into him, so it didn't matter much; but it's not a mistake I'd like to make with a dude I liked.

Which other things should we avoid discussing on a first date?

1) Ex-boyfriends. I'm not saying you can't mention that you just broke up with someone a month ago, or three months ago, or whatever the case may be. Just keep all discussion VERY minimal. No gory details. Don't say anything that would indicate you're bitter over the whole thing, or still obsessed with the ex.

2) Family drama. If you haven't spoken to your father in years, you hate your mother, or think your brother's new wife is white trash ... keep a lid on it for the time being. Oteherwise, you could come off as someone who is difficult to get along with or too judgemental. What's more, potential significant others might be scared off if they think potential mates don't have a supportive family--because it can be discomfitting to think about getting involved with someone who doesn't have a strong support network. Wait a few dates--until you've already worked your charm--before going into the details of any unhappy family dynamic.

3) Psychopharmaceutical drugs you're taking. Discussion of such things could make a person nervous that you're a little unhinged--even though we know you're not. Peeps who aren't on anti-depressants and the like (or don't have friends who are) may not understand that taking them is not big deal until he or she has spent enough time with you to see that they're not.

4) People with whom you've had (or are having!) casual sex. (If this requires more explanation, see this post for details.)

Bonus topic to avoid? Your blog (if you have one). Trust me.

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Lovelies--I know this list is not exhaustive by any means. What are your thoughts? What have I missed? What are the things you've talked about on a first date that you wish you could strike from the record?


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*These are their porn-star names, while Sandy Financester is obviously a silly pseudonym.