Dating: when it’s good, it’s really good. The anticipation beforehand, the long and animated conversations with this mysterious new person, the “ahh, so that’s how much the wine costs” moment you share together at the end of the evening. Spontaneous single life can be great.
But we must acknowledge that modern dating is also a minefield. Cliched as it might be, first impressions are important, and putting your foot in it could mean Cupid clocks off early for the night.
It’s impossible to entirely remove the risk of everything going spectacularly wrong, but getting a consensus from the public on the certified dating DO NOT DOs can only help.
Thanks to a new survey by dating site Plenty of Fish, that’s exactly what we have. Using data gathered from more than 2,000 singles in the US, they’ve compiled the first date deal-breakers that come up most often. Surprisingly – particularly in the age of Trump and his tiny, destructive hands – politics, with under 5% of the vote, didn’t even break the top five. Most of the things that did are fairly self-explanatory, but we know you want to know anyway. Romance-seekers, pay attention.
1. Looking down at your phone
Of the people surveyed, 19% went with this one. In the How Not To Fuck Up A Date handbook, this is the first chapter you’re supposed to read. For information-ravenous smartphone zombie millennials (hey there), resisting the urge to check your glowing slab of football scores, memes and heavily-filtered food porn is difficult, but you just have to be strict. Pocket it and ignore. That weird Twitter thread isn’t going anywhere.
2. Smoke breaks
Smoking never did James Bond any harm on the old dating scene, but 15% of people in the survey weren’t having any of it. Seems a bit unreasonable to flat-out reject potential compatibility with someone because they occasionally need to nip outside for a fag, but the singletons have spoken. This problem obviously doesn’t exist if both parties are smokers, but unless you’re making a note of it on your Tinder profile (don’t do that) there’s no way of knowing until you get there.
3. Being rude
According to the Plenty of Fish research, doing the above gesture(s) at your date is actually slightly less offensive than taking a smoke break, but 12% of people would ask that you don’t do it. The thing about rude people is that often they don’t realise they’re being rude, but you can be sure that if someone picks up on it – even a single remark – they’re going to be plotting an exit plan for the rest of the night. Want a second date? Don’t Be A Dickhead.
4. Talking about exes
Easy trap to fall into, this one, but unless specifically asked (which would ring alarm bells in itself), it’s probably best not to bring up the slow and excruciating death of your previous relationship on a first date, something 10% of people said would very much wreck the occasion. Just talk about Netflix. Or dogs. Or bananas. Literally anything else.
5. Having nothing in common
The people above are having an awkward date. The reason? They have quickly realised they have nothing in common. Not even the fact he wore a waistcoat can save them. The issue with this one (which 9% regard as the biggest turn-off) is that, short of a pre-date interrogation or intense social media stalking, it’s very hard to gauge this before you’ve met someone for the first time. So they might think that Piers Morgan has his moments, or that baked beans don’t belong in fry-ups, or that Little Britain still holds up today. Bad opinions are part of life. If you find yourself increasingly hating your date for the night, know that it won’t last forever, and remember there’s some leftover pizza in the fridge with your name on it. Eyes on the prize.