It’s not what you say on a first date that builds attraction, it’s what you don’t say. Here’s match.com’s Relationship Expert Kate Taylor’s straight-talking guide.
1. “Why did you split up with your ex?”
Sometimes this question can fall from your lips on a wave of flattery. What you’re thinking is, “I can’t believe your ex let someone as awesome as you slip away!” But what it sounds like you’re thinking is, “Lay your relationship failings out here, and let me judge thee.” It never ends well. Either your date gives you a vague non-answer and you’re left feeling slightly suspicious, or they tell you too much and you’re trapped in a tearful counselling session. Play it safe: don’t mention exes at all. Not theirs and certainly not yours. If your date asks you why you’re still single, shrug and say, “It just didn’t work out.” Then change the subject on to something more fun.
2. “This place is awful.”
Your date picks a terrible venue for your first date. What do you do? You make the best of it. Find something positive to say about the place they chose, even if it’s just looking around the deserted, lifeless bar and remarking, “Well, it’s great that we can get a seat!” Remember that we fall in love with people we can make happy. Throw yourself into things with joy – it’s sexy. It doesn’t make you a doormat, it makes you lovable. Only feel offended if your date picks the venue selfishly: for example, it’s miles away from your house but just minutes from theirs, or it’s a steak-only restaurant and you’re vegetarian. In that case, don’t agree to go to the venue in the first place. When you’re still at the arranging-stage, politely decline the offer. Let them find somewhere that makes you smile.
3. “I know what you should do…”
At the first-date stage, it’s a bad idea to give unsolicited advice. But for take-charge men and some successful women, the temptation is overwhelming. When your date is sharing a problem in their life and its solution feels glaringly obvious, of course you want to tell them what to do. Why not? They’ll love you for it, right? They’ll feel you’d be an invaluable asset to their life? Well, let’s see. How do you feel when someone you don’t know tells you what to do? Flattered and grateful, or vaguely insulted? (Are you even getting annoyed with ME right now?) If you feel you’d BURST if you didn’t give advice then at least frame it in a diplomatic way: “I’m sure you considered doing XYZ, how did that work out?”
4. “I just don’t want to get hurt again.”
Or, “I don’t want to waste my time.” Or, “I just want you to be honest with me.” If you’ve been kicked to the dating kerb a few times – and let’s be honest, who hasn’t? – you might start laying down the law to new partners very early on. But here’s the thing: the stronger you talk, the weaker you sound. People who naturally have boundaries and backbone don’t need to verbally enforce them; at the first sign of time-wasting or bad treatment, they just walk, if it’s on dating sites or in person. If you’ve been treated badly in the past, don’t drag that into your new relationship. Instead, work on raising your self-esteem to a level where you know in your bones that you won’t give your heart to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
5. “Want to come back to my place?”
I know. Delayed-gratification is sooo1985. But listen: studies have shown that the longer you wait for anything, the more exciting and rewarding it will eventually be. The reason is Dopamine. This happy-chemical in your brain is one of the leading causes of attraction between lovers, and its production is fuelled by waiting. So take dating slowly, every aspect of it. Don’t see a brand-new partner every night of the week, don’t rush to spill your secrets, don’t spend all day on the phone. Be patient, and reap the rewards later on. You’ll thank me – when you get back enough energy to speak. Have fun!