11 Things NOT to do on a First Date—and What to do Instead

what not to do on a first date
Photo: Steve Prezant/Getty Images

There’s a lot of advice floating around the web when it comes to dating—what to wear, what to eat, what to talk about, what to never, ever write on an online profile—and while most of this info is actually pretty useful, the fact remains that the best first dates are the ones where you’re able to be yourself. Still, we can all agree that there are certain things that you just should not do on a first date.

So before you head out, take a look at these 11 tips that outline what not to do on a first date, especially if you’re looking to make a confident impression.

DON’T Be Wishy-Washy

Nobody—and we mean nobody—likes a pushover, so if your date tells you he or she has planned dinner at a sushi joint and you don’t eat fish, or he/she wants to hang at a cocktail lounge but you don’t drink, speak up. It’ll only look weird if you tell your date all that after you’re already seated and waiting to order. Same goes for being decisive: If your date asks what you’d like to eat, drink, or share for dessert, don’t say “I don’t care, whatever is fine.”

Verbalizing what you want isn’t bossy, it conveys confidence—and is incredibly attractive. Having the personality of tepid water, however? Not so much.

DON’T Show up Late on Purpose

On a first date, you’ll make a stronger impression if you show up on time. Would you want your date to show up late? Probably not. Even if takes you two hours to do your hair and makeup, you’re perfectly aware of that fact, which means you’ll know exactly how much time you need to prepare ahead of time, even if it’s five hours.

DON’T Wear Uncomfortable Clothes

A first date isn’t the time to take those fierce six-inch stilettos out for a spin, or wear clothing that you think is a little too tight. Why? Because first dates are anxiety-filled enough and being uncomfortable in your clothes only makes it worse.

Plus, won’t it suck to not be able to walk a few blocks on a nice night because your heels are too high or your shoes brand new and not broken in—or have to spend time awkwardly pulling at your too-short hemline? Instead, wear things you know look good on you but won’t hinder you from being cool, calm, and collected. Need some ideas? Check out these date night outfit ideas and these effortlessly chic looks.

MORE: 9 Old-Fashioned Dating Rituals It’s Officially Time to Bring Back

DON’T Be Surgically Attached to Your Phone

This is the big one: The act of compulsively checking your phone every two minutes could be a bonafide deal breaker. There’s nothing ruder than trying to have a conversation with a person who’s constantly stating at their screens—wouldn’t you be put off if your date were paying more attention to the iPhone than to you?

While you’re at it, we know it’s commonplace for folks to keep their cell phones on the table, but it’s not polite when you’re getting to know somebody. Responding to every beep, text, alert, and vibration is distracting and unnecessary. Be mature and keep it in your bag or pocket, and glimpse at it while your date goes to the bathroom, if you must.

Similarly, do not post any status updates, tweet about your date in real time, or snap any candid Instagram pics, or post to Snapchat when your date’s not looking. That’s just creepy.

DON’T Try to Prove Your Worth Using Shallow Tactics

What not to do on a first date? Maniacally mention your ex, your dating history, all the time you spend at the gym, or the laundry list of guys or gals lining up around the block to date you. If you get the urge, step up your game and act your age.

Try this instead: Highlight some recent achievements that are about you. Your date will be way more impressed that way.

DON’T Think It’s Cool to Not Eat

If you think not ordering dinner, or only taking a birdlike bite of your entree will make you appear skinnier, prettier, sexier, or more mysterious, guess what? It won’t. What it will do? Probably not get you a second date.

MORE: Can You Trust the Person You’re Dating? Here’s How to Tell

DON’T Sit There like the Queen of Sheba When the Check Comes

Even if you’re of the firm belief that your date should always pay, it’s a mistake to assume they will—especially on the first date. If your date goes for the check right away, offer to split the bill, or at least leave the tip. Your date will probably decline, so make sure you offer to get the cab to the next destination, the movie tickets, or a round of drinks.

However, if you offer to pay or split, be prepared to actually pay or split. Don’t play games. Not offering at all, however, could translate to entitled.

DON’T Get Wasted

There’s not much to say here without sounding preachy, but keep this in mind: Having to be carried home by someone you barely know isn’t chic (nor is puking in the cab, doing something you regret, or crying at the dinner table). Sure, a couples of cocktails can be fun and loosen the mood, but knowing your limits—and sticking to them—will help make a stronger first impression.

DON’T Not Ask Questions—Just Make Them the Right Ones

A foolproof way to ensure that conversation will always be flowing is to simply ask your date things, although—given the fact that we never know how comfortable others are with casual conversation—that might be easier said than done. The trick to successfully vetting a potential suitor on a first date, while simultaneously keeping the energy light and fun, is knowing what questions to ask, and how to ask them.

For example, work, family, hobbies, pop culture, favorite music—these are all surefire bets. Four things never to ask on a first date? Politics, religion, exes, and income. If you’re savvy, you’ll realize that certain questions–even the most basic ones—have the ability to tell a lot about a person.

MORE: The Relationship Advice No One Ever Tells You—But Should

DON’T Give TMI, Too Soon

Sharing personal details about your life after knowing anyone for 45 minutes is never a good idea. Want to get married on the beach in Mexico by the age of 3o and have a baby boy named Henry by the age of 32? Keep it to yourself for now. Similarly, steer clear of personal topics like your contentious relationship with your mother, any ailments you have, or major work woes —all valid, but none are appropriate first date topics.

DON’T Stalk After the Date—Social or Otherwise

In today’s world, texting and catching up via social media is a viable means of communication after a date, but there are a few rules we all should follow. If you had a wonderful time and feel like shooting your date a casual text later that night or the next day, go for it.

A good text: “Had a really good time, thanks again!” is fine.

A bad text: “OMG literally had the best time EVER, ur sooooo amazing and I can’t wait to see u again. Wanna do brunch with me and my girls tomorrow??! LMK ASAP xoxox!!!” is not.

In addition, try to resist the urge to follow your date on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, or any other conceivable social network until you’ve gone out a couple of times. Even in today’s connected world, remaining a creature of (a little) mystery is a powerful thing.

A version of this article was originally published in April 2015.

What not to do on a first date | @stylecaster