I’ve done some very embarrassing things around cute guys—such as being so caught up in trying to seem cool that I didn’t see a garbage can in the road…and ran it over with my car. (Yup, true story.) Or thinking, during the first hour of our first date, that I’d found the guy I was going to marry. (Only I hadn’t. I very much hadn’t.)
As the years passed, I started to learn from my mistakes. I realized there are some things you just should not do on a date—especially not on a first date! So I’ve put them all in a list here, and I’m hoping they can help you, too (or at least provide you with a few laughs).
DON’T: Try to make him like you.
DO: Be yourself.
I used to want to throw up before dates. Seriously.
I’d get so nervous, because I was wondering, “How can I make this guy like me?” The outfit I chose, even the way I talked, was all about trying to get him to like me.
I realize now I was going on dates for all the wrong reasons. Instead of trying to make him like me, I should have gone on the date just to get to know him, to see if we enjoyed hanging out together.
That’s not to say you should chew with your mouth open or wear the clothes usually reserved for I-haven’t-done-laundry-in-a-week day. But even as you’re on “I don’t know you yet” behavior, you can still totally be yourself.
When both people are truly themselves from the first date, it’s just easier. It’s easier to see if you actually like each other. Who wants to end up in a relationship where neither person is being honest? Being yourself from the beginning gives you a chance to see if you actually enjoy each other.
Plus, keeping up a mask is exhausting.
DON’T: Create a false sense of intimacy.
DO: Take things slowly.
Is it just me, or does a romantic moment suddenly bring up thoughts of babies? You’re walking along by a lake, and the first snow of the season starts falling, and next thing you know, you’re thinking, “Wow, look at his eyes! They’re so beautiful! Maybe someday our babies will have his eyes!”
Anyone? Anyone else?
Sometimes, when the mood is oh-so-romantic and you’re connecting on a deep level, it’s easy to start to overshare, or plan for your future.
Those things you’ve never told anyone before…or your deepest, darkest secrets…or your most personal, intimate dreams for the future…or how you could see him as the father of your children….
Typically, there’s no need to share those things in all their glory on a first date. Why? Because this can create a sense of false intimacy, making you feel as though you know him more than you really do. That can hinder your ability to see the relationship clearly for what it is.
That said, if you’ve been really good friends with the guy for a long time, you’ll probably have a much more serious conversation on the first date than if you just met him, and that’s okay!
Be honest about who you are, but also let the conversation evolve naturally, and let intimacy grow over time. Don’t rush it. Especially when it comes to babies.
DON’T: Let your phone distract you.
DO: Be fully present in the moment.
Okay, so this tip goes far beyond just a date. I think this applies to anytime you’re out one-on-one with someone, whether it’s with a date, your best friend or your mom.
I’ve become convinced that phones often distract us from the relationships right in front of us. They steal our attention away and prevent us from going deeper with the real-live people sitting across the table from us.
I find that a good rule of thumb is to leave your phone in your bag. If your date steps away to use the restroom, by all means grab the phone and catch up on what’s happening! But while he’s there with you at the table, try to be fully present with him.
I think time and attention are gifts we can give on a date—or anytime we’re out with someone. Our full attention makes the time that much more meaningful, and tells the other person “This is how much I care about you.”
DON’T: Constantly talk about yourself.
DO: Listen and ask questions.
The other day my husband and I were out on a double date. We’d ask the other couple a question, and they’d answer and gladly tell us all about themselves. But they never asked us a single question! The entire time, they kept talking about themselves and we kept listening. Talk about a one-sided (and rather boring, for us) conversation!
It’s easy to get so caught up in telling stories about our lives, or trying to impress the other person, that we forget: This isn’t a sales pitch. This isn’t an interview. This is a conversation. This is a date. This is getting to know another person to see if he’s someone you’d like to spend more time with.
Actually, when I was a teenager, I talked about myself so much that my dad finally said, “Tiffany, most people don’t want to hear about every detail of your life. They want to talk about their own lives.” That may sound harsh, but it was life-changing for me and improved my relationships immensely. I started learning that in order to have a good conversation, I need to share some things about my life, but should also try to learn about the other person’s life.
So how does this play out on a date? Ask questions, and listen to his answers. Share about yourself, but also be interested in his life. Showing interest in someone else’s life and really listening are two of the best ways we can care about other people—whether on a date or with a friend.
Plus, there are few things more attractive than someone who genuinely cares for others.
DON’T: Look at him through a “potential husband” filter.
DO: Just enjoy getting to know him.
I used to believe that by the end of the first date, I could know whether or not this was “The One” I was going to marry.
And that did happen for me! By the end of the first date, I KNEW I was going to marry the guy.
It happened three different times…with three different guys…but none of them were my husband!
Here’s the craziest part: When my now-husband and I reconnected after not seeing each other for 15 years, there was no chemistry. None at all. I literally thought, “After tonight, I’ll never see this guy again.” Little did I know I’d end up marrying him! (And I’m so glad I did!) I’m so glad I got to know him anyway, even though I didn’t immediately get that gut feeling that I’d marry him.
Here’s what I’ve learned: You may have a gut feeling during a date that this is “it,” and that feeling could end up being right, but you can’t know that for sure by the end of the first date, because you don’t really know him. In order to know that you want to marry someone, you have to know him—really know him. On the first few dates, you’re only seeing a short glimpse of his life, and who knows how accurate that glimpse is?
Now, some of you may be wondering, “What if we’ve been friends for a really long time already?” Then you already know him in a deeper way, which is great! But I’ve still found in my own life and with friends of mine that the relationship shifts when you’re dating. You can think he’s the perfect fit when you’re friends, only to discover that you don’t work well in a romantic relationship. (This has happened to me and to some of my friends.) So although you’ll be further along in the conversation on your “first date,” still be sure to take it slowly and get to know him. See if you really are a good fit as your relationships shifts from friendship to a different and deeper kind of love.
Instead of spending the first few dates trying to decide if you could marry the guy, instead spend them getting to know him. Simply enjoy your time together. Don’t put the pressure on yourself to wonder if he could be your husband; that takes things too far too fast. I’ve found that getting too serious before you really know the guy can lead to a lot of hurt.
So here’s my advice: When you’re on the first date, don’t ask yourself, “Could I marry this guy?” Instead, ask yourself, “Do I want to see him again? Do I enjoy hanging out with him? Is he trustworthy? Does he love Jesus?” Those are the perfect questions to start with. There will be plenty of time to ask the harder questions later on.
So these are my five tips of what NOT to do on a date. But what about you? Is there anything you’d add to this list? Share it below! 🙂