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5 things to always avoid on a first date

From aftershave application to aggressive lines of questions, here are the worst faux pas you can commit when meeting a prospective partner

Congratulations. She’s agreed to a first date — and that’s really half the battle. You’ve been deemed worthy of her time, a second look and taking a chance on. Now you have but one job; don’t mess it up. And that’s easier said than done.

For whatever reason, when men are presented with the prospect of romance, our first instinct is to panic. We fly in the face of conventional courtship, lose our collective cools and throw cold water on proceedings before they’ve even started to hot up. So, although there is no perfect date template that works for everyone, we’ve identified a handful of goofs and gaffes that you really should try to avoid. If you’re holding out hope for a second date, here are the faux pas to steer clear of on your first.

Don’t plan anything too big

first date cinema

Oh, you like grand romantic gestures? Maybe keep that to yourself. Mariachi bands and bunches of roses are all well and good — actually, they never really are — but first dates are not for flooding with cliches. They’re for getting to know your new prospective partner. Drinks are ideal, dinner is passable — and the line should be drawn there.

Do not buy tickets for anything; no theatre shows, no gigs and definitely no cinema — you actually want to be able to talk to her. Just keep things casual. Drifting from bar to bar can be fun, especially if you’re exploring new places together for the first time. But if you’re taking her to Mamma Mia because you’ve already seen it six times, love it unreservedly and can’t believe she’s only seen the film, she’ll end up remembering the date for all the wrong reasons. Also, Mamma Mia? Really?

Don’t go too heavy on the aftershave

Some aftershaves smell nice. Some do not. All should be used in moderation. We’ve concluded interviews early before because our nostrils have been stinging — and cut short meetings because our eyes just wouldn’t stop watering. It’s not a pleasant experience. So, before you go for your sixth spritz, spare a thought for the poor woman sitting across the table from you tonight. She’s probably put real effort into applying her mascara — so don’t make it run with your nuclear notes of sandalwood.

Less is more. Pick a nice scent — we’ve got you covered there — and apply a sensible amount. What’s a sensible amount, we hear you cry? You should know, we answer. If you don’t — well you probably shouldn’t be dabbling in the dating world just yet.

Don’t over-compliment her

What’s that? She looks nice? Well that’s an appropriate thing to say — you are on a date with her, after all. So tell her. But then — and this is key, so pay attention — don’t repeat yourself. One compliment is charming. Two compliments are acceptable — if you space them out. Three of the same will make you look either chronically forgetful, like a greasy gawker, or both. And none of those options will work in your favour.

Instead, compliment her in other, non-overt ways. Pick up on something she said half an hour ago and loop back to it, to show you’ve really been paying attention. Ask her about something that shows you’re interested in more than just her looks. And never, never neg. Oh, you don’t know what negging is? Let’s leave it that way.

Don’t bombard her with questions

This isn’t a job interview; it’s a date. So don’t ask any pointed, random questions. You don’t need to know if her parents are still together. You don’t need to know why she broke up with her first boyfriend. And you certainly don’t need to know if she has any embarrassing allergies — unless you’re halfway through your second shellfish platter and she’s starting to look a little puffy around the eyes…

The best way to approach first date conversation is to avoid questions all together. Instead, let chat organically flow from topic to topic, and subtly steer things towards your make-or-break dating traits. You hate cats? Maybe delicately drop your dog into conversation and see if she offers up any information on her own pet situation. Don’t interrogate, think smart.

Don’t organise a second date during the first

Once more for the uninitiated in the back: much of the excitement and attraction of dating process comes from the waiting, flirting and tension that’s built between dates. If you whip out your Filofax at the bar and pencil her in for two weeks’ time, that’ll somewhat kill the mystery. By maintaining the ‘will he/won’t he’ part of the dating game, you’ll still seem interesting — even if, secretly, you’re not.

Don’t act aloof, and don’t be a challenge, but the first date is too early to commit to a second. Feel free to put out feelers about places she hasn’t been, restaurants she hasn’t tried or bars she’s wanted to try. But don’t sync calendars just yet — let’s see where things go. Also, why do you own a Filofax? It’s 2020…

Looking to take the next step, and still unsure of where you stand? Here’s what not to do when proposing…

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