10 things to avoid doing on a first date

It's been said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and this couldn't be more accurate when it comes to a first date. And while going on a first date may fill you with a vast array of different emotions, from excitement to anxiety, there are certain actions that can make or break the success of your date and directly impact the likelihood of getting to date number two. In fact, research has shown that you only have 12 minutes to make a good impression on a first date. So in order to truly hit it off with someone new and have a first-rate first date in every respect, it's never been more important to avoid doing any of the following ten things.

Being late

Sure, there was a lot of traffic on the way to your first date. Or maybe you couldn't find a parking spot. Or perhaps you think that being fashionably late to a first date is the best course of action so as to not seem so eager or available. However, arriving late to a first date can be a major mistake, as it can be interpreted as a sign of disrespect and disinterest and can imply to the person you're meeting that you're not taking him (or dating in general) very seriously.

So if you're looking to truly make a good impression on a first date, there are many different reasons why being punctual is the right choice. First, much like in your work life, being on time in your personal life shows others that you value their time and are making them a priority, while simultaneously demonstrating that you're organized, responsible, and capable of making and keeping commitments.

It's also interesting to note that being on time is a quality that's highly attractive in others, so why not start off the date in a way that immediately draws this person toward you in a favorable light? Being on time can also help to lessen the stress that you may be experiencing regarding a first date or in your life overall. And rather than arriving to the date feeling flustered, frustrated, and frazzled because of your tardiness, you can reduce your anxiety by being on time and heading into the date feeling more centered, focused, and calm.

Lying

If you've ever lied on a first date, you're not alone. In fact, a survey of 8,000 men and women revealed that over 60 percent believe that it's perfectly acceptable to lie on a first date. Almost 40 percent of these women admitted that they'd lied about their age on a first date, and nearly 15 percent had even lied about their real names. Men are more likely to lie about their incomes on a first date, while both men and women are guilty of lying about their professions. But if you think that lying on a first date is the right way to make a good impression, you're actually just lying to yourself.

A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that social situations in which lies are told tend to lack the closeness, depth, and overall sense of enjoyment compared to social interactions where lies aren't being told. In other words, telling lies on a first date can undercut your goal of really getting to know this person and can also undermine your chances of developing a deep and meaningful relationship with him in the future.

Further, if your partner later finds out that you lied early on in the relationship, it can change the way they see you as a person. People who lie tend to be viewed as scheming manipulators who are deliberately looking to deceive others for self-gain. Lying can also be seen as a symptom of having low self-esteem as well as a poor self-image, both of which aren't appealing characteristics. Lying to your date also shows that you simply can't be trusted. After all, when you lie to someone, how can this person be sure that you're not going to lie again in the future? And since trust, honesty, and openness are at the very core of a happy, healthy, and long-lasting relationship, it's only a matter of time before a connection based on lies is going to disintegrate.

Being distracted

If you're constantly looking down at your phone and/or looking around the room while you're on a first date, it'll likely also be your last. Sure, you may have things on your mind, but your lack of focus shows this person that he not a priority, and not worth your time or attention. There's even a phenomenon known as "phubbing," (i.e. phone-snubbing), which is when you place precedence on what's happening on your phone over what's happening with the person next to you. And, not surprisingly, phubbing is a legitimate source of contention in relationships, as it prevents you from connecting with your partner in a meaningful way.

While it may be extremely tempting to check Facebook and work emails, or even check out the cute guy at the table next to you, neglecting to pay attention to your date will undercut your ability to make a positive first impression. Plus, by focusing on the distractions around you instead of on your date, you're actually making him feel belittled and insignificant, regardless of your intent.

Fortunately, there are proven ways for you to improve your focus and attention skills (in dating and in life), including practicing mindfulness, engaging in meditation and/or yoga, and learning how to manage the various triggers that are causing you to become distracted in the first place, such as the ding of a text message. Just as you shouldn't drive distracted, you also shouldn't date distracted.

Not listening

Along these same lines, while being distracted on a first date can be a major turn off, failing to listen to your date can have the same effect. In fact, many people simply wait to talk rather than truly listen to what their date is saying to them. And if you're someone who already formulates in your mind exactly what you want to say without taking into account or paying attention to what's being said to you, it won't be too long until your date recognizes that you're basically ignoring him and invalidating the substance of what he's saying.

So if you want a successful first date, it's time to start listening with your eyes and your ears, which is a concept known as 'active listening'. This is when you hone in on a person's verbal and nonverbal cues in order to fully understand what's being expressed to you. By doing so, you can communicate and engage with this person in a meaningful way, while also demonstrating that you're interested in what's being discussed and that you aren't merely reciting lines that you've already come up with in your head. With this in mind, so to speak, it's not too surprising that being a good listener is a quality that others find quite appealing and attractive, as it demonstrates to your date that you're highly interested in getting to know him on a deep level.

Bringing up your ex

If you're looking to make a good impression on a first date, it's important that you don't make your ex the focus of your time together. Even if your ex cheated on you and/or broke your heart, bringing him up on a first date is only going to imply that you haven't yet moved on from him. In fact, fixating on your ex can be a huge red flag that indicates to your date that you're still hung up on this person and aren't yet ready for a real relationship with someone new. It can also not-so-subtly demonstrate to your date that he'd likely be compared to this person if the two of you were to ever become a couple down the road.

It's important to note that speaking ill of your ex can actually paint a negative picture of you as a vengeful gossip who chooses to bash and trash talk others behind their backs, even to someone you just met. So whether you're still into your ex or not, it's important to avoid bringing him up on the first date. Don't tell your date that your ex has the same shirt, loves the restaurant where you're eating, or shares the same first name. Remember, if your goal is to have more dates with this person in the future, you shouldn't linger on the past. And while discussing your previous relationships is an important step in building a meaningful and long-lasting relationship, it's not an appropriate topic for a first date.

Being negative

It should come as no surprise that it's far more enjoyable to be around someone who's positive, happy, and optimistic than it is to spend time with someone who's negative, unhappy, and pessimistic. So if you act like a negative Nancy on your first date, it's highly unlikely that you'll get a second chance to negate this first impression.

Along these lines, if you head into your first date thinking that it's going to be a bad experience and/or a total disaster, this will likely become a self-fulfilling prophecy that casts a shadow over the entire date itself. In fact, your personal expectations of certain situations, events, and encounters can be powerful enough to directly impact their outcomes in both positive and negative ways, as your expectations can shape the way in which you interact with others as well as the way in which they interact with you.

So if you're someone who tends to see the glass as half empty rather than half full, there are various strategies that can help you begin to see the world through a more positive lens. For instance, you should try to focus on the good in your life, even if it's something as basic as liking the outfit that you're wearing, as well as looking for ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

A study in the Journal of Research in Personality revealed that simply writing down a positive thought each day can positively impact your overall mood, temperament, and well-being and can even lead to fewer bouts of illness. With this in mind, it's never been more important to head into a first date feeling upbeat, optimistic, and fully embracing the power of positive thinking.

Forgetting your manners

If you're looking to make a favorable first impression on your date, you should mind your manners. And while this certainly doesn't mean that you have to act in a way that's over-the-top proper and formal, it does mean that you should behave in a way that represents your best self.

For example, demonstrating basic table manners can make a positive impact on your date, and you should try to avoid talking with your mouth full, belching, swearing, and even picking at your teeth. Further, the simple act of saying "please" and "thank you" can also help your date to see your gracious side, as it demonstrates that you're a courteous, considerate, and respectful person.

You should also make sure that you not only treat your date with respect, but others around you as well. Even if the bartender messed up your drink order or the waiter forgot the appetizer, it's important that you remain calm, cool, and composed — getting angry, yelling, and/or making a scene will not look good. In fact, acting in a kind and compassionate way can even help you appear more physically attractive to your date, as researchers found in a study in Personality and Individual Differences.

Drinking too much

If you don't want your first date to be a total waste, it's important that you don't get wasted. While you may enjoy consuming alcohol as a way to loosen up and lessen the anxiety that can come from first date jitters, drinking in excess can actually have the opposite effect and cause your body stress. When you're drunk, you're also negatively impacting your attention span, vision, and memory — all of which can make it highly difficult for you to focus on your date, your conversation, and even your surroundings in general.

Aside from the negative health issues associated with excessive drinking, such as liver, brain, and heart damage, becoming totally inebriated can also put you at risk of making bad choices, making a fool out of yourself, and/or basically making a mockery of your time with your date. When you get wasted on a date, you're also putting your safety and personal well-being at great risk.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it's been found that alcohol plays a role in nearly half of all cases of sexual assault on women in the United States. Obviously this doesn't mean that drinking makes you responsible for any aggression committed toward you, but you should take steps to protect yourself in any way you can. Being inebriated makes you vulnerable — and since you don't know the person well on a first date, it's better to be safe than sorry.

However, if you do decide to drink, it's important to employ some self-control and drink in moderation. For women, moderate drinking is considered the equivalent of having a maximum of one drink per day, as recommended by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Complaining

Do you hate your job? Is your roommate a slob? Are you sick of the rainy weather? Constantly complaining on a first date is a major turn off that will likely result in your date complaining about you to someone else.

While you may be used to complaining to friends and family, choosing to vent on a first date and moan about all of the ways you've been wronged is the wrong approach when it comes to making a good impression. After all, complainers are often seen as needy, immature, and desperate for attention. Even if your complaints are completely justified, people who complain are often viewed in a negative light.

If you're someone who can be described as a constant complainer, it's time to stop this detrimental date behavior. One technique is to pay attention to what's triggering your need to complain in the first place and develop strategies to manage why you're whining. For instance, if you're complaining about something that can be resolved, avoided, or changed, you should take steps to deal with the issue at hand. However, for the complaints about things that can't be changed and/or are indelible aspects of life, it's time to shift your focus from annoyance to acceptance and learn to let go instead of letting these grievances negatively impact your life.

Bragging

Being confident is viewed as a highly attractive quality, but bragging about all of your accomplishments certainly isn't. And while you should be proud of your different achievements and successes, trying to convince your date how terrific you are is actually a terrible mistake.

Research in Psychological Science has shown that people who brag tend to overestimate the positive response of others while simultaneously underestimate their negative response. In other words, when you brag about yourself in order to make yourself look good on a first date, you're achieving the opposite reaction. Rather than dazzling your date with your incredible accomplishments and attributes, you're just coming off as a boaster and shameless self-promoter.

Research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America revealed that talking about yourself increased activity in the regions of the brain associated with pleasure. So while you may literally and figuratively feel great by telling your date how great you are, his response to your bragging won't be so positive. On the flip side, when you opt for humility over hubris, you're more likely to hit it off.

Finding first-date success

So in order to make a great impression and have your first date be a firsthand success, it's never been more important to steer clear of these critical first date faux pas. In fact, when you take to heart these first date tips and resolve to be truthful, optimistic, and courteous on your date, you're increasing your chances of connecting with this person in a heartfelt and genuine way because you're putting your best self forward. Dating can seem a bit daunting, but if you empower yourself with the right attitude and approach, your first date will have far more potential to grow into a budding and blooming long-term relationship.

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