3 Ways to Mess Up A First Date

5:51 PM

When I first started college, I went out with a really cute girl and I felt like we really connected. At the end of the evening, we spent quite a bit of time (more than I am willing to confess) sitting in her driveway talking. For me, the chemistry was hitting on all cylinders and I was having a great time. More than I had ever done before, I talked her ear off sharing a lot of personal things about myself (more than I am willing to confess). She also shared a lot and so I assumed the feelings were mutual. When it was well past time to end the date, we agreed that we should go out in a few days. I was on cloud nine and thought I had found “the one.” When the day came for our second date, she called me to tell me that she couldn’t make it because she “didn’t feel well.” My heart sunk and I had the feeling that we wouldn’t be going out again. And we didn’t. Not because I didn’t try, but because she wasn’t interested. I remember thinking to myself: What the heck happened? We really connected and had a great time. When she agreed to a second date, I could have sworn she was serious!

My problem was TMT. Too much talk, touch, or time. TMT is common because we do not understand the purposes of a first date. A first date IS:
-An opportunity to associate in a healthy way with a member of the opposite sex. We all need more practice with this.

-A time set aside to learn about someone else to see if you would like to go on a second date (not to determine if they are marriage material).

-An opportunity to be kind to someone who deserves kindness. You can do this by giving them your undivided attention throughout the duration of the date.

A first date IS NOT:
-A time to consider if you would ever marry this person. It’s #justadate!

-An opportunity to indulge yourself through either selfish talking or touching.

-Anything more than a first date. A first date is #justadate, and nothing else! 

People who forget the purposes of a first date, are much more likely to make the TMT mistakes.

Too Much Talk.
There are just certain things you shouldn’t bring up on a first date. Don’t bring up your baggage (porn issues, excessive video gaming, past abuse, legal troubles, physical or mental health, etc.). You want people to see your baggage in context of who you are. If the relationship progresses, you can bring these things up after they’ve had ample of opportunity to get to know you. Bringing these things up before someone has had the chance to get to know you will lead them to define you by your baggage, and you are so much more than that. Also:

-Don’t talk too much about yourself and don't forget to listen!

-Don’t talk too deeply about personal issues.

-Don’t talk about how excited or scared you are to get married.

-Don’t talk badly about others.

-Don’t tell your date that you would like to be exclusive. 

Your talking should be light, engaging, and fun. Resist the temptation to share too much too soon. Otherwise, your date will likely feel uncomfortable.

Too Much Touch.
I know it can be fun, but I promise it’s not worth it. Not only do you want to refrain from making physical touch the basis of your relationship, too much touch too soon can really muddy the waters. Everybody attaches some sort of meaning to physical touch. Sure, to you holding hands isn’t a big deal. But to her? Holding hands could send the message that you want to be exclusive. The same thing goes for cuddling, prolonged hugs, and kissing.  It’s best to save these physical encounters for several dates down the road. Even if your physical touch doesn’t send a message of commitment, it can send the message of “I’m easy” or “no work required” or even “I am totally in to you.” Sending any of these messages intentionally or unintentionally is going to decrease your chances of a second date.

Too Much Time.
First dates should be brief. Once you surpass an hour or two, the longer you spend the more uncomfortable your date is feeling. It didn’t matter that I thought me and my date were clicking. I prolonged the date for way too long and I believe that cost me a second date. But don’t take my word for it. I have asked hundreds of women how they feel about really long first dates, and the near-universal answer is “uncomfortable.” Do you want your date’s lasting impression of you to be “uncomfortable”? Not if you want a second date. These women have said the same thing about dates that are super elaborate or expensive (more than about $20-30). Spending too much time or money on a first date will make your date feel that you expect something from them in return-even if you don’t. If your date feels that, they will probably feel really uncomfortable and avoid you the next time you come calling.


These three things all have one thing in common: they increase the chances that your date will feel uncomfortable. Why would she want to go out with you again if she was uncomfortable the first time? Do yourself a favor and follow this principle in your dating endeavors: do whatever you can to help your date have a comfortable time. You can start by planning a simple, short date where you are committed to keeping your hands and baggage to yourself. Instead of putting it all out on the table, leave your date wanting more.


It’s hard to avoid TMT when you feel there are so many other guys or girls competing for the person you like. But TMT will make you one of their least attractive options. When it comes to a first date, less really is more.

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4 comments

  1. I completely agree with everything in this article! I have gone on so many dates where my date brings up his baggage (depression, family problems, etc). It happens frequently! I end up feeling like the date was a therapy session in which I was the therapist and leaves me with absolutely no desire to go on a second date.

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  2. Sara, maybe that’s because you are such a great therapist ;) Well, hopefully the guys that take you out in the future will read up and do something different. One good reason to share this on social media!

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  3. I hold a little disagreement on the time. I agree the plan should be fairly short, but also adaptable. One first date I went on was a hike. We met up about six in the morning, and after the hike was done, we still wanted to spend time together so we adapted the plan. We went out to lunch, then we watched and talked through a movie (and then two more), then we went for a walk and kept talking, and almost before we knew it, it was midnight. It wasn't uncomfortable even though it was 18 hours long. If it had been planned that way, it might have become awkward, but because it naturally progressed that way, it was terrific! (That was over a year ago and things are still good between us) Sometimes interest won't survive that long of a first date. I say plan short but play it by ear.

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  4. Hey Jessica! Thanks for reading! Yes, there are exceptions to a lot of rules. For the most part, on this blog, we teach general principles and don't identify all exceptions.
    With the time: if there is already a lot of interest (and chemistry) spending a lot of time together may feel natural and not feel like overkill. However, if one person is on the fence or not feeling it as strongly as the other, spending too much time on a first date can often push them the other direction (away from the relationship).
    So, spending a lit of time on a first date is a risk, but sometimes it can still work out! I am glad it worked out for you guys!

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