By Jenniffer Weigel, Tribune Newspapers
December 13, 2011
On a recent dinner outing, the conversation came to a screeching halt when the 42-year-old man sitting across from me announced:
"I'm a virgin."
Umm ... check please?
I have nothing against virgins, or 42-year-old virgins, for that matter, but as a recent divorcee, this wasn't the kind of conversation I was hoping to have on a first date. I admit I've been out of the game for decades — the last time I did this, I still drove a stick shift — but even I know there are some things you just don't say the first time you sit down with a prospective mate.
"It's just amazing to me what some people feel like sharing right out of the gate," said Kim Calvert, editor of Singular magazine and the website Singularcity.com.
Whether you're a man or a woman, it's important to monitor what you say on Date No. 1, Calvert said, so you can get Date No. 2.
"This means staying away from those 'hot button' topics like politics, religion and especially money," she said.
You should also avoid trashing your ex or acting desperate.
"If you're a woman and you have the neon sign flashing on your head that you want a boyfriend or a husband, I tell women that's just like when a man stares at your chest and says he wants to sleep with you," said Bela Gandhi, a dating coach and owner of the Smart Dating Academy. "The same 'Bolt!' reflex is triggered."
Gandhi said other no-no's on the first date include revealing sexual fantasies, taking work calls during your conversation, and mentioning those crazy friends from college.
"We don't need to hear about the time your friends went out at 3 a.m. and stole hubcaps," said Gandhi. "Our brains weigh first impressions a lot more heavily than subsequent interactions. What's acceptable later is not necessarily going to be acceptable in the first couple of dates."
So what should you say to make an impression? Calvert suggested sticking to topics like travel, what you do for exercise, food and your childhood (minus the drama about your crazy uncle Ronny.)
And Gandhi warned not to text too much because you could get or give the wrong impression.
"I always tell my clients that 93 percent of how we interpret people is through the non verbal exchange — which is the tone of their voice, their facial expression, eye contact, or posture," said Gandhi. "Today people prefer texting, but you'll miss all the verbal and physical cues if you don't see someone's face when you're talking to them. This is the best way to see if you're compatible."
"You have to get yourself out there to find out," she said. "There are some things you just can't get over the phone or through emails."
Better left unsaid
Here are some of the worst things that have been said on first dates, according to Calvert and Gandhi:
"I wish I had health insurance benefits like yours."
"What kind of car do you drive?"
"When do you think we're going to get naked?"
"Can I stay at your place for a while?"
"This is going to be a great story to tell our kids."
"Let me see if I have any money."
"You look a lot different than I imagined."
(For men) "That sweater makes your chest look great."
(For women) "Men should always pay."