50 First Dates? Uh, Well, Like Maybe It’s Your Communication Skills

Why do first dates fail? It’s an interesting question because fail they do, and with alarming frequency. In my own 10-plus years of dating experience, as well as what I’ve learned through friends’ failures, I’ve seen first dates bomb for lack of “chemistry”, because the guy was more interested in getting laid than getting to know his date, or because the girl didn’t look like Jessica Alba. But of all first date disasters that I’ve been privy to, the single most common hitch was a failure to communicate.

It’s no secret that poor communication is often a key source of misunderstandings, jealousy, distance, and a host of other dysfunctional dating side-effects. But… let’s face it, when it comes to communication the rules of the road in dating etiquette are as a clear as mud. Fear not, with a few helpful hints to upgrade your messaging we’re confident your success sealing that second date will become the envy of your single friends.

Apply a filter

After an interview with Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker star Patti Stanger, Glamour magazine blogger, Erin Meanley, noted that “single women are so trusting that they tell too much information about themselves. They pump and dump — they baggage dump!” This is sage advice. I have a friend who fancies himself a foodie. Whenever the conversation turns to the subject of what to eat, he can’t control his urge to blurt out every fact and opinion he has on where to eat in Kyoto, why free range chicken isn’t *really* free, and what to bring to a bengali wedding banquet. It’s not hard to see how the gift of gab can be something of a curse during a first date. Burdening your date with information overload will kill any chances you have of successfully getting a second date.

It’s not an interrogation

Let’s be clear, most people don’t want to be put on the spot the first time you go out with them. If you hurl questions at your date like Katie Couric on steroids, you may find your date making a beeline for the bathroom. If your date keeps her answers brief, seems annoyed, or genuinely disinterested it means its time to cut short your line of questioning, Columbo.

Fungus is never an appropriate first date topic

Common wisdom dictates that first date conversation should never include topics like sexual prowess, ex’s, family medical history, finances, or the like. On a first date, it’s important to keep the conversation light, casual and fun. Steer clear of heavy, negative, or crass topics – it’s simply not romantic. Don’t recount every detail of your latest breakup, the best sex you’ve ever had, or your plan to get hitched before the New Year (unless you are trying to ditch your date, of course).

A good listener is a good talker with a sore throat

Let’s get right to the point… listening is a basic rule in any relationship, but on a first date it’s rule numero uno. If you don’t listen to what your date has to say, how will you know if you want a second date? (We’re giving you some credit here by assuming you care about more than what your date looks like.) Listening means really paying attention to what your date has to say, not just giving the appearance of listening all the while thinking about what color panties she’s wearing, whether his hair will recede by age 30, or what time you need to jet to hook up with your friends.


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