What’s one of the quickest ways to derail a potentially great relationship? By forgetting common courtesies when out on a date! Just as you’d run from a man who spent the whole evening taking calls or talking about other women, your date will quickly write off anyone who asks crazy personal questions or complains about the restaurant he picked out. Read on to discover the top etiquette mistakes women make that turn men off — and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not showing your gratitude when he picks up the tab
It seems like a no-brainer to say “thank you” after someone treats you to dinner or to a movie, but when you’ve got butterflies, it’s surprisingly easy to space out on this essential manners move. “I don’t expect a woman to pay if I ask her out,” says Aram, a 32-year-old legal recruiter from Florida. “But I do expect a simple ‘thank you’ at the end of the night... or even an email the next day.” Do one better than that and try to reciprocate, even in a small way. “I once had a woman insist that we go elsewhere for dessert so it could be her treat,” adds Aram. “It showed me just how classy she was — plus, it ended up prolonging a very nice date.”
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Mistake #2: Bringing up controversial subjects in a negative light
“I went out once with a woman who was a teacher,” says Boston-based attorney Brad, 40. “She had this holier-than-thou attitude about what she did for a living and was very insulting about my profession.” After listening to a rant about how teaching was a more noble career than any other, Brad was ready to call it quits for the night. “It was clear that she would never respect what I did,” he explains. “There’s no way we could have a future together.” When you’re just getting to know someone, be extra careful about expressing strong opinions, especially if they’re negative. You don’t want to launch into a tirade about how you can’t stand vegetarians only to discover that you’re sitting across from PETA’s biggest anti-fur activist. A better bet: Wait to discuss sensitive topics until after you have a few outings under your belt first.
Mistake #3: Trash-talking your exes
As a general rule of thumb, it’s wise to avoid any talk about your exes on the first few dates... and it’s a definite no-no to trash any former flames. “I went out with a woman after she broke up with her boyfriend — who happened to be a guy I also knew,” continues Aram. “She spent the whole night making fun of him.” Aram was so appalled by his date’s insensitivity that he never asked her out again. “Plus, it kept running through my head that she could one day be sitting across from another guy, making fun of me,” he adds. Remember what your mother always said: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
Mistake #4: Leaving your phone’s ringer turned on (or obsessively checking it)
If you’re addicted to answering your phone every time it rings, leave it at home. “I went on a blind date with a woman who spent the entire night on her cell, planning a ski trip with her friends,” complains Jeff, 35, an attorney at a New York law firm. Texting friends is equally off limits, so if you have to answer calls or emails for work, explain to your date beforehand that you might need to take a few moments to touch base throughout the evening, and always apologize for any interruptions when they do occur.
Mistake #5: Overstaying your welcome
On a truly great date, the hours fly by like mere minutes. But be careful to pick up on clues from your date that it’s time to call it a night. “After a particularly good date near my apartment, I invited this woman up to listen to some music we had been discussing at dinner,” says Michael, 25, a chef living in Pennsylvania. “After talking for hours, she said she was too sleepy to leave and that she had to stay over.” While some guys might jump at that opportunity to make a move, Michael was a gentleman about the whole situation. He wound up sleeping on the couch — and having to continue their date into the next workday. “A great date turned into an early morning with a very annoying overnight guest,” he says. “It was a real turn-off to have to deal with a frantic woman in stilettos in my apartment the next morning.” If a man keeps checking his watch, talking about how busy his morning is going to be, or starting to yawn, it’s clearly time for you to head home. In fact, it’s generally best to pack it in early, thus leaving you both wanting more — namely, another date.
Amanda May has written for Redbook and other publications.