A first date is the time to be your best self, not your worst.
By Marina Margulis — Last updated on Jul 04, 2023
Photo: JKstock / Shutterstock
What bugs you most on a first date?
This simple, concrete question usually yields vastly different answers when men and women each reveal what bugs them most about their date’s behavior. Women are usually more analytical (read: critical) when it comes to dating behavior that irks them — choice of dress, mannerisms, choice of entrees, quality of good night kiss, etc. The list goes on.
This is because women are more emotional and expressive, so their first impressions are formed by nuances like body language and mannerisms. Very often, an otherwise good date will end (with no chance for a second) because she did not like the way he kissed her goodnight or held her hand.
Men, on the other hand, being less demonstrative, are usually less forthcoming when asked what turned them off about their dates.
It’s not good or bad — it just is. After all, men and women are not created the same, they’re intentionally created differently enough to complement each other. And, isn’t it that very same difference that excites heterosexual adults?
When my male clients debrief me about what they liked and did not like about their first dates, their first impressions typically seem pithy, abrupt, and superficial — her hair, her legs, her attire. It takes a lot of detective work on my part to get the true picture out of these guys. After all, women NEED to have this inside intel in order to tackle this whole dating thing, right?
Once I dug in and got real answers out of the men, these were the five dating behaviors they hated most (in order from bad to worst) … and ladies, for the record, I agree with them on these points.
Here are 5 obnoxious things women do on a first date (that turn men off):
Yes, ladies, the guys understand your need to arrive fashionably late. After all, you do want him to see you enter in all your glory — new shoes, hair blow-out, and all. Most men I interviewed admit they expect a woman to arrive about 10 to 15 minutes late for a date. They’re perfectly fine with it.
However, it is late and there is a “shoot me! I am falling asleep, starving, and I don’t understand why I’m still here” late. Anything over 15 minutes is just rude.
A client once described his date as Dr. Jekyll and Miss Hyde. She was perfectly pleasant during their conversation. She smiled and nodded her head in all the right places.
However, every time a waiter came to the table, she would bark out another order, accusing him of not being attentive and even insulting him when he tried to apologize for whatever it was she thought he was guilty of. “I wondered,” said my client, “which of the two personalities was real?
Furthermore, I wondered what life would be like with either of those personalities.” Neither “the actress” nor “the shrew” appealed to him; he never called her again.
3. Too much talking, not enough listening
Unfortunately, both, men and women are guilty of this, but it is a subject that came up with many men, so it’s my job to report it.
At certain points in the conversation, ladies, you may find it useful to take a breath and gauge the situation. Is your date still with you? Did you keep his attention with the last 40-minute soliloquy on how difficult it was for you to organize a charity event at your son’s school?
Yes, we all have a lot to say. However, it is when we listen to our dates that we can figure out if there is a future there. So ladies, more conversation, and fewer monologues, please.
Seriously, ladies … why is this even a conversation? What is so urgent that you can’t put your phone away for dinner, lunch, coffee, or whatever it is you do on a date?
Unless you’re a surgeon on call, put the phone away on dates! It’s perfectly acceptable to excuse yourself for a minute to check your messages, just to ensure there is no emergency from the babysitter, dog walker, or your boss. (Nevertheless, if you must do it, make sure you tell your date the truth.)
However, it’s not acceptable to type away while sitting 2 feet away from the potential love of your life. It is plain rude and inconsiderate. End of discussion.
5. Playing coy
Yes, ladies, I was just as surprised to hear so many men complain that women show up on a date and THEN decide to play hard to get. From an air of indifference to downright coldness, women insist that men win them over by playing “knight in shining armor” to her persona of an ice queen.
As one woman tried to explain to me: “I don’t want to put my cards on the table right away. Let him work for my attention.”
There is a big difference, ladies, between jumping into bed in the middle of your first coffee together and simply being friendly and open to a new relationship. If you’re already on that date, what is the point of taking 10 steps back by being unfriendly and withdrawn? How much would you want to “win” a man who meets your every joke with a stone-cold stare and your every touch with abrupt detachment?
Somewhere between a slut and a nun, there lives a happy woman who lets a good man share her life. Why not be that woman?
The bottom line is ladies … on a date, it’s not just his job to make a great first impression, it’s your job, as well. So show him a little interest, kindness, and respect, the same as you’d want to be shown to you.
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Marina Margulis is a matchmaker and dating coach. She has been featured in Good Men Project, DatingAdvice, Scribd, and more.