You meet online. You have the same favorite book and it’s not The Fountainhead. You exchange emails multiple times a day and bond over your mutual love of cats, Frasier, and pretending you like to spend Sunday in bed with the New York Times crossword puzzle. It’s meant to be! The first date is around the corner. You’re bringing your lucky socks to the laundromat when…oops, you screw it up. They cancel the first date and now you’re dead to them. You spend Saturday night with your cat and a Frasier marathon. You use your Sunday crossword puzzle to line the litter box and spend the morning in bed, hugging your body pillow. Where did you go wrong? You may have made one of the following pre-first-date faux-pas:
1. Giving Orders
Assertiveness is attractive — but bossy demands? Save it for the bedroom. One of my guy friends has a thing for sexy footwear. Can’t blame him. But the thing that makes me — and his dates — cringe? His wink-wink-nudge-nudge requests that his dates “wear heels.” If the date activity is a surprise and you’re cluing her in as to what would be appropriate and comfortable for her (no one needs to end up on a mechanical bull in a pencil skirt), go for it. Any other wardrobe request? No. I know it feels very Don Draper, but it makes you seem creepy.
2. Talking About All the Sex You’ll Be Having
This is a transcript of a G-chat conversation I had with a guy I met on an online dating site. We were planning our first date (I ended up canceling).
Me: Where do you want to meet?
Him: We could meet in between in case we don’t like each other or near one of our places in case we do.
Me: My vote is for in between.
Him: Pessimist. What is in between? How much time should I block out on my calendar?
Me: Depends on what we’re doing I suppose, and where.
Him: Well, I usually like talking and kissing on a first date. I usually figure three hours. But if we are going to have sex it would be nice to have more time. If you like me you will probably have sex with me on the first date. I am a very good kisser. Women that don’t have sex with men on the first date usually have it with me on the first. If they are real holdouts then they wait till the second.
Me: You know those times when you’re not sure if you should laugh or laugh nervously?
Don’t do this. You want to bone; they want to bone. You can cut through the sexual tension with a knife or even like a spatula, really. Great. Now keep it to yourself at least until you meet face-to-face.
3. Making a Grand Gesture
A friend of mine was really looking forward to his first date with a woman he thought was perfect for him — if not a little out of his league. So he went overboard to try to impress her, making a not-short (8 minutes!) video as a medium to divulge the where/when date details to her. He thought it was cute; she thought it was a bit much — and they never went out. Romance, cheesiness, and grand gestures have their time and place, and that time and place is never, ever, before a first date. Why is it off-putting to go out of your way before the first date? Because you don’t know the other person yet, making your gesture more about stroking your own ego than doing something special for them. Save it for when it counts.
4. Talked Online Endlessly
One of a two things can happen if you let the chit-chat go on too long: You will talk so long that one (or both) of you will start dating someone else in the meantime; you will talk until you effectively kill any sexual tension or first-date mystery. What won’t happen: you’ll fall in love over G-chat and the connection will seamlessly and effortlessly transfer into real-life life chemistry exactly as you expected it to. As soon as you know you’re interested enough to go on a first date, go on it.
5. Social Media Stalking
There’s no reason to link up with your date on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Friendster (hey, he last logged in on March 3, 2002!) before the first date. There’s really no reason to do it right after the first date either, actually. Don’t try to force real intimacy via social networks. Retweeting the same Onion article won’t make them realize you’re soulmates before you’ve even had a beer together.
Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn and on the internet.