Dating is a never ending learning curve. There is no official handbook, no guide lines and certainly no omniscient guru. Dating is an art that everyone must learn and interpret by themselves, of course friends and family will share knowledge and experiences that will aid in the learning process, but ultimately, its down to each individual to pick and choose the lessons they learn.
In my experience, which has vastly grown in the last 6 months, there are certain behaviours that I have personally found unacceptable on dates and in the week surrounding the date.
1 – The Eager Beaver.
A large proportion of what I would call ‘active daters’ meet potential dates online, with the help of online dating sites. This is the first opportunity for a potentially harmful error. Most dates that arise from online dating follow a very simple pattern. View Profile – Send Message – Exchange flirtatious messages – date. It’s that middle stage of exchanging messages that poses a potential fatal dating mistake. Personally, if a man sends me multiple messages before I’ve had a chance to reply to his first message, that’s one strike against him. Asking how my day was, then if I’m doing anything nice later, then if I’ve got any plans for the following day, all before I’ve typed ‘I’m ok thanks’ screams needy and will more than likely result in me ignoring the messages all together.
It’s not just men that exhibit this behaviour, I’ve actually got friends that use the likes of PoF and OK Cupid that behave in this exact same way. Countless times I’ve told them to chill out with the messaging, that if the guy wants to reply to her, he will. He doesn’t need 6 messages reminding him that he’s talking to a potential level 3 Stalker.
2 – Still hung-up on the Ex.
Pretty self-explanatory, in fact it’s pretty darn obvious, no? Who on earth wants to hear about how wonderful their date’s ex was. Despite how painfully obvious this is, people still do it.
There is nothing quite like hearing about how funny or beautiful or intelligent your dates ex is to kill the mood. I’ve actually stopped a man mid-sentence and asked him if he’d rather be on a date with the ex, proceeded to down my wine and walk out.
I’ve never felt more like a consolation prize in my life. But again, I can’t put this all on the guys. I think everyone does it at least once in their dating lives. I know I have. I’m far from the perfect dater, I remember I’d not long broken up with my ex and I’d agreed to go on a date with a guy I knew. He took me to a restaurant that I used to frequent with my ex, and as the breakup was still raw and I have to admit I wasn’t over him 100%, I mentioned that I used to go there a lot with my last boyfriend. I could hear myself doing it, but I couldn’t stop.
Now, I avoid that topic of conversation completely, and I don’t tolerate ‘ex talk’ on any dates early on.
Unfortunately it is a subject that is unavoidable if you enter a relationship with someone, as you’ll inevitably want to know about their past, but for me it’s a 5 date minimum before that subject is even broached.
3 – Vague and unimaginative conversation
One of the beauties of dating is getting to know each other. What foods you enjoy, hobbies and sharing cheesy jokes. So when I’m on a date trying to converse, and all I get in return are one word answers and grunts, you can bet I’m not going to be impressed.
I get that dates can be awkward, I totally agree that it’s difficult to open up to someone you don’t know very well, but I’m asking about your hobbies, not your sexual health, cheer up.
When I’m on a first date I will always try to break the awkward ice, and make a little playful joke about awkward first dates. Normally this is met with a smile and a polite laugh, before entering into a pleasant 2 sided conversation. This isn’t the case all the time, and on those instances, where I am met with a cold stare and a grunt, I make my decision pretty early on that the date isn’t going anywhere fast.
It’s a personal rule of mine – only give as much as you get. This sounds awful, but let me explain. If someone doesn’t want to contribute to a conversation other than one word, then I won’t make the extra effort to keep the conversation going. If a date buys a round of drinks, and has the cheapest drink on the menu, and then on my round orders champagne, I put my purse away. It its long term friends, this rule does not apply, but for new people it certainly does.
4 – The Pusher.
I am a very strong minded woman, this works both as a positive and a negative. When I date, which is often, I have a wonderful selection of rules and mental hoops for the men to adhere to and jump through. These are unspoken, unless such a time comes where I need to make my date aware.
For example, a kiss, first date kisses should not exceed 3 seconds and should not, under any circumstances, be as invasive as an internal exam. If my date tries to pick the remains of the dinner out of my back teeth with his tongue, we have a problem.
I think it is extremely important to know what you want out of the date before you go on it. Having a clear plan will allow you to keep the pusher at bay.
I have fallen victim to this trap before, and ended up in an uncomfortable situation. That is why I now always follow my plan, this doesn’t mean that my plan can’t change mid-date, but 99% of the time, it doesn’t.
5 – Role Reversal.
I am all for equality, however, if a guy asks me on a first date, I expect him to pay. Much the same as if I were to invite a guy on a first date I would expect to pay.
I know I’m not the only one to think this way, a friend of mine actually refuses to take her purse on a first date, I think she takes an emergency £20, but I think that’s more for a taxi if he’s a creeper.
If I’m on a date and the bill comes and he doesn’t automatically say, ‘I’ve got this’ or words to that effect, he’s a write off. In the past I’ve ended up paying, now I just say, thanks for dinner and walk out. This is probably going to anger the hard core feminists, but if I’d have invited him on a first date, I would totally have paid.
I personally think its common courtesy that the person who extends the invite foots the bill, especially a first date. Subsequent dates I’m happy to go halves on, or pay for alternate dates. Except on my birthday, then he should definitely pay.
There are so many different lessons to learn, and there are equally as many ways to interpret the lessons. It all comes down to experience, and trial and error. I think it is important to make dating mistakes and go home and kick yourself for what you did or said, ultimately if your date was the one, a little slip of the tongue or irregular behaviour won’t stop them seeing you again, likewise, if your date makes a few faux pas but you’re able to look past it, do it.
Dating is subjective, no one else can tell you what to do or how to feel.
Single in South Essex