Whether you’ve experienced a dating horror story of your own, or just heard them second-hand, you’re probably well aware that every date has the potential to be the start of something wonderful - or a spectacular crash-and-burn.
Ultimately, the difference between the two will come down to chemistry, but you can still help your odds by dodging deal breakers. To avoid becoming someone’s cautionary tale, here are a few tips on what NOT to do if you want to hook your happily-ever-after -- or at least another date.
Keep your Facebook-stalking on the sly
No one’s going to blame you for checking up on your date online. These days, it’s just standard due diligence, but that doesn’t mean you should present your research findings at dinner. Nothing screams "red flag" like bringing up your date’s high school yearbook photo, a blog post from ten years ago, or the concert they went to last Friday before they willingly shared any of that info. There are infinitely more subtle (and less creepy) ways to point out that you both like the same band.
Don’t monopolize the conversation
What do a bad date and a bad movie villain have in common? They monologue incessantly, leaving the other person ample time to plot a daring escape. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if at any point you feel like you might’ve been talking too much, you were definitely talking too much. Shift the conversation back to your date. Better yet, share it with them in the first place!
It’s understandable to be nervous, especially if your dating skills are rusty, but there’s a fine line between loosening up with a drink and falling out of your chair. You shouldn’t have to get drunk to feel comfortable around someone, or enjoy their company. And it’s kind of hard to show off your best self or make sparkling conversation when you’re slurring your words. Note: this rule applies double for dates to places without a liquor license. Leave the flask at home.
Resist your fear of missing out and put that phone away
This one should be obvious, but it’s important to give the other person your undivided attention. This means not constantly pulling out your phone to send some texts or check your Twitter feed. If you absolutely have to take an important call, excuse yourself from the table. Otherwise, no date wants to feel like they’re competing with your smartphone for your attention. And while we’re at it, there’s no need to Instagram your dinner either.
It’s about ‘Am I into you?’, not an interview!
It’s doubtful that anyone out there is heading to a date with an updated resume and three letters of recommendations, though weirder things have happened. But if you really want to get to know someone, it’s important to remember to let the conversation flow naturally and not just move down a checklist. Grilling your date on their strengths and weaknesses is only going to put them on the spot, and make them question whether they want to pursue this opportunity (i.e. YOU) further.