13 first date behaviors that put most people off, according to psychology

Every first date is different, and there’s never a guarantee they will go well. 

But avoiding certain behaviors and comments is a good start to a great first date. 

Psychology provides clear answers about the habits and actions that turn most people off, especially on a first date. 

Here’s a look at the top behaviors that stop a first date from ever turning into a second date. 

Let’s dive in: 

1) Lack of punctuality and flaking 

Nobody likes to sit around and wait for their date to show. 

Being late is never attractive, and even worse is when a person stands somebody up on a first date. 

Those who chat on an app and then never show up, rarely get a second chance. 

As psychotherapist Dr. John Moore explains, for many ghosters, “actually meeting for the date isn’t as important as getting a ‘yes’ to the initial request.”

This is both disrespectful and indicative of deeper commitment issues. 

2) Discussion of exes and past breakups

There are a broad range of things that people can talk about on a first date, from sports to cuisine to travel. 

But if there’s one subject that should be quite strictly off limits for a first date, it’s past relationships. 

In particular, talking about the details of ex-partners is a surefire way to overwhelm, embarrass and push away another person on a first date. 

Professor Aaron Ben-Zeév puts it well:

“Sharing details of your exes on a first date through tiring stories is inadvisable. A better way to satisfy a natural curiosity of each other is through sharing limited information at the beginning.”

3) Bringing up highly controversial topics

As somebody who loves discussing religion, politics and controversial topics, I myself have fallen prey to this:

But it’s simply not a good idea. 

Whether or not somebody agrees with the controversial or heated topics that are brought up, they tend to create a decidedly non-romantic and non-sensual atmosphere. 

A first date is a chance to get to know somebody, flirt a little bit and see if there’s compatibility: discussing intense geopolitical issues or socio-political debates that are close to one’s heart is not generally an effective way to go about it.  

4) Critical, negative commentary

No first date is likely to go perfectly, but individuals who delve into negative and critical conversations aren’t likely to have a second date

Even if one or both of those on the date are fairly judgmental or critical people, it’s best for these types of habits to be restrained a little. 

A first date is a time for optimism and enjoying the moment more so than getting into darker vibes or mean-spirited commentary.

As Ben-Zeév explains:

“Optimism is an affective attitude characterized by the belief that good things will happen…

Beneficially, it may encourage constructive coping efforts within the relationship.”

5) Being overly intense right away

There is such a thing as coming on too strong, especially on a first date. 

An individual who shows up talking rapidly, loudly or gesticulating aggressively or over-enthusiastically is likely to put off his or her date. 

It’s just a matter of human nature and human psychology that attraction is a two-way street. There’s some subtlety involved.

When a person shows up for a first date laying all of his or her cards right on the table and going all-out right away, it tends to be a major turn off

As clinical psychologist Roxy Zarrabi PsyD. cautions:

“Are they talking about the future and all of the things you two will do together, events that you will go to, and places you will visit? It may feel nice and exciting at first, but they don’t actually know you…”

This leads to the next point:

6) Over-eager and clingy behavior 

When somebody comes on too hard and too fast on a date, it tends to be overwhelming. 

There is such a thing as a first date being overly nice and overly perfect. 

It can be a turn-off, especially since these individuals are just meeting and there is already so much clinginess and over-eagerness. 

It indicates an anxious attachment style, which doesn’t bode well for the future and may scare an emotionally secure individual who is the other party to the date. 

“If someone is being excessively complimentary or talking already about meeting friends and family, saying they love you, planning a trip, etc. on a first date, it is way too much too soon,” notes relationship coach Susan Trotter.

7) Monomania and technical fixation

if someone displays these behaviors on a first date its not worth organizing a second 13 first date behaviors that put most people off, according to psychology

Next up we come to monomania and technical fixation. 

Monomania is excessive talking about one highly specific subject. This may overlap with a technical fixation. 

Examples include a person talking at length about the science and techniques behind acrylic nails and applying them in a beauty salon, or another individual discussion their interest in upholstery for twenty minutes solid. 

These may be interesting topics, but they’re very narrow. They tend to demand that the other person conform and fit into a subject that may not actually interest them all that much. 

Which leads me to the next point of a first date behavior to be avoided: 

8) Monologuing and self-promotion

When a person ends up talking too much about themselves, it tends to turn off their date:

This is particularly true on a first date where impressions are just being formed for the first time. 

None of us enjoy being talked at or treated as a passive sounding board who’s expected to sit there and simply provide validation with no input or interaction. 

“When someone is talking at you, they are talking about themselves and not asking you any questions or allowing space for you to share more about yourself,” cautions Zarrabi.

9) Indecisiveness and excessive passivity

On the slip side of coming on too strong is coming on too soft. 

This is a situation where a person approaches a first date with almost complete indifference:

He or she is so “chill” about the date and everything in it that it’s like they are barely present. 

This tends to make the other individual feel undervalued and like the other person is only on the date to kill time, out of obligation or due to simple boredom. 

Nobody wants to be somebody’s forgettable first date that they barely even show up for.

10) Rudeness to service staff

Another first date behavior that’s sure to turn the other person off is rudeness to service staff. 

This is especially common if the date is taking place at a restaurant or place with staff like a mini golf course or cafe. 

When one of the people on the date is rude to those who are just doing their job, it sends a very bad message about their character and patience in interacting with others.

As Zarrabi points out:

“It doesn’t matter how kind your date is to you if they are treating the people around them poorly. Are they complaining that the service is bad, saying that they don’t want to pay a tip, or being condescending to the bartender or wait staff?”

11) Checking phone often

There’s a time and a place for checking one’s phone, but it’s not on a first date. 

For those of us who need to check our phone for work or are going to be receiving an important message or update, set statuses that mention being away for the next few hours. 

With few exceptions, checking the phone on a first date is a turn off for the other person involved.

“Unless it’s an urgent situation, if your date is distracted and frequently checking their phone or taking calls during your date, it shows that they are not taking your feelings into consideration,” notes Zarrabi.

12) Getting into sexual topics and history

Sexual and overly personal topics are another area that’s best avoided on a first date. 

Unless the date is purely about having fun or hooking up, it should not be focused on intimate sexual topics. 

Doing so can make people feel uncomfortable or like the date is just about something casual when they had hoped for more.

“Sex is very personal for most people and discussing it on a first date is a red flag,” Trotter advises.

13) Bringing up money and finances 

Money, salary and finances are important topics and they’re likely to come up if a relationship begins to form. 

But they shouldn’t be a topic of discussion on a first date. 

For one thing, they can lead to the impression that one or both people on the date are scoping each other out for reasons of material gain. 

For another thing, money just isn’t that sexy of a topic! 

As with all of these topics, it’s best for neither individual to get too into uncomfortable or inappropriate topics. 

As Trotter observes:

“People tend to present their best self initially so if any of these behaviors or traits manifest early on, it is important to pay attention…It is likely that these issues won’t change and in fact, will likely worsen…”

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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