Dating? Check out this article I wrote for The Ultimate Edit magazine about the top 10 things to avoid.
1. Don’t get too drunk, people!
Yes, a boozy beverage or two can help oil the conversational cogs of the evening, but heed the words of Millionaire Matchmaker’s Patti “two drinks maximum!” Stanger. That inimitable diva rightly points out that no one really wants to be on a date with a drunkard. This advice helps protect your date’s good opinion of you, but is as much to protect your own judgement. Do you really want to end the night thinking you’ve met The One when really it was just the 2-for-1 cocktails talking? By all means drink, but be classy. Drink, but be in control of the alcohol; don’t let the alcohol be in control of you.
2. Don’t reveal too much about yourself
This is by no means an instruction to put an unnatural halt on naturally-flowing conversation. Part of the fun of a really great first date is talking long past last orders, finally looking around to see you’re the last ones in the bar/bowling alley/bistro. However, it’s advisable to hold a little bit back. Presumably you want this first date to turn into a second, third and fourth, yes? In which case, you want to leave Mr or Miss Lover-lover with a deep desire to know more about the unique and intriguing personality that you alone possess. Fascination is a massive part of attraction.
3. Guys: don’t even think about not at least offering to pay the bill.
The girl may turn you down and want to split the bill, but she’ll appreciate the gesture. There’s plenty of time for cash equality as your dates progress, but – for the majority of girls – chivalry is mighty attractive on a first date. If you’re a gay couple then the girl/boy rule obviously doesn’t apply but suffice to say that generosity is never a bad quality, so be the first to reach for your bank card when the bill arrives.
4. Don’t mould yourself into who you think your date is looking for.
It’s tempting to Facebook and Instagram-stalk your potential love match to within an inch of their life, squirrelling away a store of “we’re so PERFECT for each other!” ammunition. But bear in mind, as you excitedly reel off a list of your date’s favourite band’s guitarist’s previous solo albums that you found on Wikipedia, that perhaps they are looking for someone different to them. Not a carbon copy of themselves who’s into the exact same bands and the exact same brand of Belgian beer.
Perhaps your expert online stalking revealed that all his exes have been blonde yoga instructors. That’s no reason to go out and bleach your beautiful red hair and Namaste yourself silly when really you prefer kickboxing. Unbeknownst to you, he may well be trying to move away from his ‘normal type’. Be yourself. As they say, everyone else is taken. Plus if things work out between you, at what point do you admit you were just deviously trying to make him fancy you by pretending to like all the same things? It’d be quite expensive to continue dyeing your hair every fortnight to cover your roots, pretending to be a natural blonde. Then a romantic dip in a hotel pool gives your whole bleached barnet a ghastly green tinge (that actually happened to me) and you’d have to ‘fess up. So not worth it.
5. Don’t constantly check your phone
The person you are with has asked you out because they want to get to know you better. They want to gaze lovingly into your eyes, not stare angrily at the top of your forehead as the rest of your face is buried in your phone screen. Put that thing on silent in your pocket and give this lad or lass your full attention. You can always check your Twitter when they’re in the loo.
6. Don’t get a new beauty treatment done that day
We’ve all heard the horror stories. Facials can flare up your skin. Eyebrow tinting can look pretty Scouse brow on day one. Teeth whitening can have quite a Ross from Friends glare if you’re not careful. The day of a first date is probably not the best day to try facial threading for the first time. You’ve already got a first date… that’s enough firsts for one day. Save the new beauty treatment for the day you’re visiting your grandparents.
7. Don’t forget to check the name before you press send
Whether the date goes really well or really badly, we’ll regale our friends with the details as soon as the cab drops us home. “He’s FIT!” or “Mate…what a nutter – no thanks!”. But just beware who you’re messaging. When my sister was first asked out by her now-husband, she was overcome with excitement. He’d casually asked her to be his plus one at an upcoming party and she sent a message of the “BUY YOUR HAT!” variety to another of our sisters. Except of course, she accidentally sent it to him. In fairness they’re still together now, but she’d be the first to warn you of the humiliation.
8. Don’t be too easy to get
What I’m saying is sleep alone that night. Wink wink, nudge nudge. Say no more. Being girlfriend or boyfriend material means getting to know each other better than you will in just one evening. Resist going too far… even if the chemistry is on point. Like number 2 in this list – ‘Don’t reveal too much about yourself’ – you want to leave your date wanting more. Your mum wasn’t kidding when she told you not to give the milk away for free.
9. Don’t forget to have FUN
Too many dates can slip into interview-mode. Firing questions like “Where do you work? Where do you live? What’s your 5 year plan?” can turn what’s meant to be a casual drink or dinner into the Spanish Inquisition. Keep things light and fun and maybe even consider something different to a restaurant if you really want to let your hair down. What about a fun fair or a life-drawing class? Nothing bonds you quicker than a nail-biting roller coaster ride together…or sketching a penis.
10. Don’t write someone off too soon
Yes, your immediate reaction might be that there needs to be more physical attraction. Yes, your date might not have had you ROFLing around on the actual floor… and you’re well aware that ‘funny’ is one of your non-negotiables. But I strongly believe that unless your date repulsed you, or revealed a UKIP membership badge when they took off their coat, most people really do deserve a second date, even if they didn’t set your world on fire on date numero uno.
Nerves can do funny things to us all. Some folk appear arrogant, covering their nervousness with bravado. Some folk appear timid, freezing-up like an old Iceland prawn platter. You probably wouldn’t want to be judged on just one meet-up – perhaps your fail-safe joke fell flat or your hair fell flat or you literally tripped up and fell flat on your face. Either way, we’re not always ourselves when we’re hungry. We need a Snickers. And we’re not always ourselves when we’re on a first date. We need a second.