Getting a small group of people to agree on anything is difficult, but we’re going to try anyway. In fact, we’re going to try to build consensus among a very large group of people — the daters of the world. Because if we can spread the word, gain acceptance and put a stop to these extremely annoying first date conversations we will have done humankind a service beyond measure.
Most veteran daters could make this list on their own. Newbies will want to read on and avoid the kinds of date chatter that is common and extremely annoying.
#1 ANYTHING AT ALL that has to do with your ex
Yes, you knew this was coming. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. PLEASE don’t tell us about your ex on a date. If the story is negative, you’ll come off looking like a bitter victim. If the story is positive, you’ll come off looking like you’re still pining. God forbid the story is about some exotic trip you took together, as we will feel instantly inadequate wondering if we can ever afford such a trip. Worst of all is the casual reference, “Well, my ex was a professional football player for the Atlanta Falcons, but the point is he was taking me to dinner one time…” Yes, what was the point of your story?
Obviously, if you are asked, “Have you ever been to France?” You might say, “My ex and I went in 2007.” But leave it there.
#2 Topics that Revolve Around your Affluence
This can be tricky, because hobbies often reflect our income. When you talk about your ski trip to Whistler last March you’re signaling that you have enough money to fly to British Columbia and buy $85 lift tickets. The best way to avoid being completely annoying in this regard is to stop talking about toys and start talk about experiences.
For instance, it might be fascinating to hear your date talk about how he/she hiked Kilimanjaro – the pain, the triumph. You will certainly be aware that it costs several thousand dollars to make such a journey, but the conversation will revolve around the experience, and you might have similar accomplishments to share that required amazing perseverance.
Contrast this to a conversation about a new BMW M3. “I just bought this incredible new sports car. I’ve been thinking about a performance car for years. I got a nice bonus, and I just took the plunge.” There isn’t much to say to this, unless you happen to be a German car fanatic.
#3 Tales of Your Old Glory Days
There’s nothing like a walk through the past with a semi-stranger. As a general rule, first dates should be light on the life history. Your date is much more interested in what you’re up to now, but the truly annoying conversationalist goes back to the good old days – when your band was packing them into the Regal Beagle, when you were president of your Phi Mu chapter, when you first moved to town and spent every night socializing (more on this later), when you had that great job that sent you to London once a month. Spending too much time on any of these past glories makes your current life seem a little less interesting, no matter how many times you say, “I’m so glad to be done with that period of my life.”
#4 Pushing Your Agenda
Most people are pretty polite on a date. In some ways this makes you a hostage of the person you’re with. Sure, you could stand up and say, “YOU’RE INSANE. I’M LEAVING!” But who does that? You sit quietly, nod and wait for your chance to yawn and say, “Wow, I’ve got to get up early tomorrow.”
This politeness gives some people the green light to unveil their social/political/religious agenda. Talking about your interest in state’s rights, for example, is one thing. Pulling a photo of George Wallace out of your wallet and ranting about the Dixiecrat party is something else entirely.
The fact is even if you are well-aligned with someone in these areas, using precious date time to harangue your date with your agenda isn’t wise. It can make you seem obsessive, and most people just don’t want to be with someone who seems unhinged about anything. Most of us are expressly looking for signs of instability in our first dates – signs that might warn us off a person who is going to be trouble down the road.
Of course, on the flipside if you are aggressively pushing some social/political/religious issue on the first date, you might be doing your date partner a big favor. The sooner they know, the sooner they can start to yawn.
#5 Your Fabulous Party Past
“Then there was this one time that we drank Tecate and Tequila all day and I ended up going for a swim in the hotel Koi pond!” Really? How charming. Your days spent imbibing drink and drugs may seem funny to you, but we don’t care. What is the purpose of trotting out your old battle stories — to prove you were crazy, hip, a free spirit, or a drug addict? Again, your date wants to know what you’re up to these days, not in the party past. However, if you’re still binge drinking and spilling bong water on the rug, the first date might be a perfect time to share that information.
#6 The Minute Details of Your Job
Most people who are good at their jobs are detail oriented. They get proficient at zeroing in on the small elements that create success. Because people spend hours and hours a day working on these projects and work with people who are also focused on them, they may get the impression that the work they do is FASCINATING.
Let us assure you that this is almost certainly not the case.
Oh sure there are exceptions. There’s lawyer working on a fascinating double-homicide trial, or the physician who has just performed a brain transplant, or the film director who just spent the day working with Jack Nicholson. But for the most part, your job is not fascinating to your date. They might politely ask questions about it to make conversation, but please don’t launch into a Dilbert-like description of your “crazy” work world. “So, Anna in accounting cannot process the TPS forms until I get clearance signatures from the compliance people. Today I told my Senior Director Kevin, there’s no way I’m routing this through marketing.” PLEASE STOP! Feel free to give a general outline, but job details cannot be mixed with alcohol and heavy machinery.
#7 Your Health Challenges
As we’ve said before, you want to keep first date conversation light. Telling your date that you’re having a cyst removed next week is not light. Talking about your chronic diverticulitis is not light. In fact, almost any medical condition is TMI on a first date. Like it or not, we’re drawn to people who are healthy and vibrant, and your chatter about medical procedures has a negative impact on that.
Serious medical conditions, like epilepsy, are a different kind of important judgment call, but our advice has always been no first date medical revelations. See if you even like each other before you start sharing your most intimate secrets.
#8 Talking About All The Other People You’re Dating
Our favorite recent eHarmony Advice Community comment was by a woman whose date told her that he’d been on 6 dates in 7 days. We hope he had his shots.
We can all assume that attractive single people are out mixing and mingling with other single people. The last thing you want to hear on a date is details about those encounters. It is understandable that two people who meet on eHarmony or another online dating service might want to talk about the process. Certainly nothing wrong with that.
The problem occurs when you get into the details. “I’ve been on 135 eHarmony dates in the last two years.” You can’t speak these words without having your date think, “What is wrong with this person that 135 others have failed?” And the other side of the coin, “I’ve been online dating for two years and you’re my first real date,” is pretty scary as well. The less said the better.