You probably know which behaviors turn you off the most in another person. What is interesting and important to think about is which behaviors of yours could annoy another person. Everyone gets triggered by different behaviors, and it can take a while to figure out which ones irk that new person. In my clinical work, I hear men and women talking every week about the things so-and-so did on a date that really turned them off or even angered them. Here, I’ll share a list of the most common dating behaviors that bother men and women.
Not letting your date choose what to do or where to go
When you meet someone and have the first few dates, it’s polite and considerate to let that person help you plan the outing. Ask if they have specific activities or restaurants in mind for that particular date as opposed to setting it up without their input. It never hurts to ask directly how your date likes to approach planning. There is nothing wrong with saying this: “Do you prefer the other person to plan the date, or do you prefer to do the planning? Or do you like to make those decisions together?” No matter the specifics, either ask about their approach to planning dates or simply suggest that you plan the date together.
Talking about previous dates or exes
Keep previous romantic experiences off the table for the first few dates, at least. This behavior bothers men and women alike because it makes them wonder why you are preoccupied with thinking about someone else when you’re out with them. Focus on your date and invest your mental energy in trying to get a sense of whether this is a personality type that you easily mesh with. In a word, it’s all about the mesh.
Getting too touchy or sexual too soon
Having spoken to hundreds of couples over the years in my clinical work, I can tell you that the following behavior is one of the biggest turn-ons in dating: a simple kiss on the cheek at the end of the date. If you hit it off and want to be with each other, you can get plenty touchy in time. (Crucial rule to remember: If you are meant to be together, you will end up together.) But forcing an intimate kiss or even trying for a kiss on the lips too soon bothers many men and women because it feels pushy and presumptuous. Many people need a moment to reflect after a date about whether they actually have or could have romantic feelings for that person, so forcing physical intimacy should always be avoided. Again, if you two have what it takes to last, you could be slow dancing in the living room to Endless Love on repeat for years to come. There simply is no rush.
Being late for a date
Avoid this behavior at all costs. If you show up late to a date – and it doesn’t matter how understandable your excuse is – your behavior sends the following message to the person you’re meeting: They aren’t important enough to be on time for. Show your date respect by always allowing extra time to arrive at where you’re going. Conversely, expect a new date to not want to see you again if you do happen to show up late for any reason.
Asking questions that are too personal
The first few dates are a great time to get to know a new person, but having a date with someone doesn’t give you the right to ask questions that are extremely personal. Asking questions about income, past relationships, or deeply emotional topics can be too intrusive and intense when just meeting someone. If you choose to get pushy and ask these questions anyway, your date may be like many others who would feel uncomfortable. While it may sound insignificant, the behavior could bother your date enough that they might not want to see you again.
Trying too hard to impress by name-dropping or boasting
Going out of your way to prove what a great catch you are almost always backfires. It’s important and helpful in dating to have good self-esteem, but it’s another thing to try to prove it. Boasting about accomplishments or how amazing your lifestyle is often turns men and women off because they feel like a salesman is “working” them. What’s more, most men and women have the insight to know that trying so hard to prove how great you have actually indicates that you have low self-esteem.
Two rules you should never forget as you date (and, yes, they are cliches)
In two words, be yourself; in three words, don’t try too hard. Trying too hard takes a lot of energy, and it doesn’t make sense to invest so much energy in someone when you don’t even know if you’ll still like that person a month later. Remember what you like about you, and trust that anyone who gets to know you will inevitably come to see those same characteristics in you.
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.