What You Should Never Do On A First Date, According To People Who Have Witnessed Some Awkwardness Firsthand

First dates are, by their very nature, incredibly awkward. You have two people, trying to glean, from one halting conversation, whether the person sitting across from them is a potential life partner. Or a potential anything. It’s weird. The things you should not do on a first date are many; a simple coffee with someone can feel like navigating an obstacle course in the dark. Thankfully, some helpful redditors have recently weighed in to pinpoint the worst first date offenses.  

On Friday, redditor Southern_Penguin submitted to AskReddit, “What is the number one thing NOT to do on a first date?” Predictably, some respondents gave crude jokes as answers, but many more offered useful advice that they’ve learned the hard way. In general, these redditors’ advice reveals a few common themes: Be considerate, be engaged in the date, and practice some social common sense. And if, despite your best efforts, your date still heads to Awkwardville, consider it a learning experience and try again (with the same person or someone else).

Steering clear of these pitfalls won’t magically make your first date amazing (you have to rely on the mysterious magic of chemistry for that), but they will start you off on the right foot:

1. Don't be late.

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Being on time is a simple act or courtesy in any situation, but it's especially important on a first date to show your date that you respect his or her time and that you're willing to put in the effort of basic civility.

2. Have your phone out the whole time.

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Redditor faleboat advised, "For f*cks sake, don't check your g*damn phone. Unless, of course, you WANT your date to know you're patently not interested in them." Give your date your full attention — anything less is a signal from you that you're not interested (in which case, why go on the date at all?).

3. Talking about — or going home with (?!) — your ex.

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It's generally a bad idea to talk about exes when you're on a first date — doing so may send your current date the message that you're not ready to move on from your past relationships. But one redditor posted about an especially egregious example in which a woman left their first date to go hook up with an ex. Oof.

4. Talk only about yourself.

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A conversation is a give and take — it's not one person soliloquizing while the other struggles to get a word in.

5. Go see a movie you know nothing about.

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Redditor dalatri recalls what happened when a couple went to see Antichrist for their first date:

6. Focus too much on expectations.

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As redditor Deltador points out, expecting too much is a sure way to be disappointed. Try not to put too much pressure on the date or yourself, and you may be surprised by how well it turns out.

7. Talk about controversial subjects. (Maybe.)

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A number of redditors argued that, on a first date, one should avoid talking about potentially controversial subjects like politics, abortion, religion, and ex-partners — the reasoning being that, if you're just getting to know someone, it's best not to discuss the subjects about which people tended to get particularly heated.

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Other commenters disagreed, arguing that certain issues are deal-breakers — so it's best to be up front about them.

The key here, I think, is that if you are going to wade into the waters of controversial topics, you do so gently and with an open mind — there's a difference between asking politely about your date's viewpoints and getting into a fight with him or her.

8. Sex. (Again, it depends.)

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A few commenters argued that talking about sex on a first date is a no-go — because it could make your date feel like you're only interested in sex, or simply make him or her uncomfortable. Others said that talking about sex on a first date isn't always bad:

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The takeaway here is to tread lightly when it comes to sex-related conversation on a first date. Do your best to read the room and follow your date's lead. If he or she loves raunchy humor, go for it, but if you don't get that vibe, hold off until you know each other better.