11 Things NOT to Do on a First Date

One man reveals the little things that can really turn a dude off.

couple fighting
(Image credit: Ellen Moran/iStock)

The other week, I went on a first date with a nice guy. We had a decent time, although I decided to (very politely) turn him down (opens in new tab) when he asked me on a second date. (He wants to make gobs of money in a manner that I think shows the standard amorality that most incredibly successful businessdudes have to have, which doesn't jive with my worldview (opens in new tab).)

Offhandedly, I mentioned to a female friend that I'd turned down this guy's second-date request, and she expressed some frustration over the fact that she doesn't get asked on second dates as often as she'd like to. What, she asked me, might she be doing wrong?

On first dates, plenty of us do little things that are big turnoffs, even though we often don't realize it. So I decided to bug one of my best male friends, Teddy Wayne (opens in new tab) — author of Kapitoil (a novel with a slow-cooking romance at its heart) and an astute observer of the human race — to tell me about little things women do on first dates that might turn men off. Here's his list (with my commentary):

1. Don't dress like a slut — or a schoolmarm.

Be stylish and sexy, but not slutty. So, no excessive cleavage, no heels so high you can barely walk in them, no barely-there skirts. You want to earn the dude's respect and make him think you are a person worthy of pursuit — not just a sex object.

2. Don't in any way indicate that you are interested in future contact ... until the very end.

This is actually a tougher rule to follow than it would seem to be. Because sometimes you'll find yourself discussing a new restaurant that's supposed to be really cool, and you'll say something like, "We should go sometime." Or you'll mention one of your favorite books and, because you're a generous person, you'll say, "I can lend you my copy." Problem is, by doing this kind of thing, you force a guy to ask himself whether or not he wants to see you again before he's even gotten a chance to know you — which can make him feel awkward. Let him warm up to you. You don't want to come off as overeager. So wait until the end of the date before you say, "It'd be nice if we hung out again." Even better: He'll be the one to say that, and you'll simply agree wholeheartedly.

3. Don't be a bitch.

Sure, a lot of men like "a challenge." But that means they're into women with self-respect — not mean girls. Don't be rude to the waiter or snotty to the bartender. Don't mock the behavior — or outfit — of another woman in the restaurant. Be regal and rise above all forms of cattiness and smallness.

4. Don't mention anything that could make you come off as emotionally unstable.

No TMI, please. The guy across the table isn't your therapist or your best buddy. A first date is not the time to start venting about your terrible relationship with your parents, your despised boss, or some whacked-out fight you're having with a friend. (If you feel like you are emotionally unstable, maybe you should see a therapist and get yourself together a little before doing any serious dating.)

5. Don't mention you're taking antidepressants.

Hell knows, I'm all in favor of taking them. But unfortunately, a lot of people have misguided notions about what they are and who is on them. Let him get to know you — and to understand you're not "crazy" — before he gets to know about your meds. (I mentioned this in a post about first-date conversation stoppers (opens in new tab), but it seems worth reiterating.)

6. Do not engage in self-deprecation.

As I've said before (opens in new tab); this is a really hard thing to get right. So, rather than run the risk of coming off as insecure or self-loathing (not attractive qualities, FYI), avoid pointing out any of your shortcomings.

7. Don't mention ex-boyfriends or dudes you dated. Not one!

You don't want to give him the sense you're still hung up on your ex. And it can also be off-putting if you mention some dude you were casually dating, like a random hot fireman (opens in new tab). He might get the impression you sleep around or you're trying to brag about how wildly attractive the male race finds you. (We know, we know — but no need to broadcast it.) So, as much as possible, avoid discussion of your romantic history.

8. Do offer to help with the check.

Guys appreciate that a LOT even if they have no intentions of letting you help with the bill.

9. Don't get too drunk.

For serious, ladies. Slurring your words or having so much trouble sitting straight it seems like you're on a slip-and-slide rather than a bar stool? Not good. If you're prone to getting drunk easily, make sure to put something in your gullet before you meet the guy, even if you're having dinner together. (I mean it! Otherwise, that first glass of wine on an empty stomach can do a lot of damage. And since it takes 30 minutes to digest food — while alcohol gets into your system ASAP — the bread your waiter brings won't help much.) Limit yourself to three drinks or, if you're a lightweight like me, ONE. And stick to wine or a beer you know. Cocktails and fancy microbrews can vary greatly in their alcohol content.

10. Do not talk about sex. At all.

Especially not as a non sequitur. Unless you want the guy to get the impression you're just looking for a one-night stand or a friendship with benefits. And I dunno about you, but I'm not interested in that kind of thing.

11. Let the dude initiate the first kiss.

And you be the one to withdraw your lips first, to leave him wanting more.