What not to say

No matter how instant the chemistry is, going into detail about your past relationships is not the right way to start.

cartoon (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
After weeks of emailing and texting, my friend Julie finally met her mystery JDate match – a good-looking lawyer named Brian who had recently moved to town.
Unfortunately, the report after their first date was not good. Yes, Brian was handsome, yes, he was smart. But no, he was not an adept conversationalist.
This guy didn’t know the meaning of biting his tongue or having restraint. The more he told Julie about himself, the less interested she became.
Brian and Julie didn’t exactly get off to a good start.
He contacted her on JDate and, after exchanging a few emails, he asked her to meet him for a glass of wine.
She responded “Sure, I’d love to!” and signed off with her phone number. His response: his phone number.
Confused about what the next step should be? Julie was too. After a few more emails, he again asked her to meet, this time for gelato. She again responded with her phone number. His response: a text message. The nonexistent relationship went from confusing to frustrating.
Sure, he finally used her phone number, but by sending an SMS he contacted her in the most noncommittal and impersonal way possible.
She decided to text him to tell him that she wasn’t a text message person. He told her that he wasn’t a phone person. (She found out why on their first date, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.) This back-and-forth was enough to make a girl give up, and Julie was just about to throw in the towel. I advised her to stop playing his game and to not respond to his text messages anymore. It worked. He called her the next day to ask her out. Yay! But it wasn’t until they met that things started to sound like it really was all a joke.
Julie was willing to go into the date with an open mind and a clean slate. When she sat down, she hoped that Brian would redeem his communication antics by being witty and amiable. Instead, he proceeded to tell Julie all about himself over the course of one drink and one hour: his father’s six ex-wives; the medicines Brian takes for OCD and ADHD; his dyslexia; his skin rashes; his likes and dislikes; and finally – the kicker – his ex-girlfriend. None of these subjects are particularly amusing when discussed separately, but when taken altogether, it was a dark comedy come to life. Julie was appalled, and rightly so. Needless to say, she didn’t see Brian again.
Maybe Brian was trying to put all his cards on the table and let Julie know what exactly she was getting into, but his technique needs some major work. Of the above list of topics, the only one that should have been discussed during a first date was his likes and dislikes.
JDate definitely makes you feel as though you know someone better than you really do before you even meet, but remember that the person sitting across from you is still a stranger. If you didn’t meet on JDate, but rather were set up or met at a bar, then the person truly is a complete stranger. And even if you know your date from high school or work, you’ve never sat with him or her in a romantic capacity before. The prescriptions in your medicine cabinet are not something you would discuss with the person sitting next to you in the doctor’s waiting room, so why share it with a date that you’re trying to impress? One of the reasons I suggest meeting your JDate matches right away is because you need to maintain some semblance of normalcy when it comes to conversation.
Use the information from their profiles to your advantage and keep to typical first-date conversation topics: Why did you choose to go to that university and major in that field? Where did you grow up? How did you get started in your career? Stick to the basics and censor yourself before divulging information that is (to put it bluntly) none of your date’s business. On the first few dates, I suggest you at least attempt to regale him or her with funny, positive and interesting stories about yourself and leave the deeper, sad and bewildering stories for later on in the relationship. Hopefully you will be able to charm him or her enough with the former to leave plenty of time for the latter.
There is so much to talk about without going into anything negative or dramatic or vomit-inducing.
And there is plenty to discuss without getting too deep too quickly. It is, after all, only a first date. No matter how instant the chemistry and the connection is, going into too much detail about your past relationships or your medical history or your family drama is not the right way to start out. Even if you find a commonality and bond over your pain, the first date is not the time to be swapping such stories. All you need to establish on your first date is that there is chemistry and there are commonalities upon which to build a foundation. Once you’ve established a relationship, you will have plenty of time to exchange sob stories and hopefully you’ll have built up enough trust that you’ll be able to divulge the skeletons in your closet without being worried about what not to say.