Just about everyone has at least one nightmare dating story. Most of them are the run-of-the-mill, "I got stood up" or "She never called" tales, but a few are frightening enough to make any sane single person want to crawl under the covers.
For example, Marisa's blind date with her younger sister's soccer coach seemed to be going well, until halfway through dinner when he came out with: "I just need to ask you one important question before we move forward -- do you believe in werewolves? Because I need to be with a woman who shares my interest in mythical creatures." [source: Fox News] Hmm…maybe not a love connection!
From minor blunders to faux pas serious enough to qualify as "nightmare dating stories," we'll count down some of the biggest dating mistakes people make. Some are foolish and others are rude, but just about all of them will prevent you from ever getting to the second date.
Too Much Information
You've known each other for all of one hour, and already you're sharing the details of your abusive childhood, your last five relationships, your political and religious beliefs, and even your latest doctor visit. For at least the first few dates, leave your intimate stories and emotional baggage at home.
Remember that you don't know a person on the first date -- or even the second or third dates. Not only are you divulging intimate details about yourself to a complete stranger, but by talking incessantly, you're also not letting your date get a word in edgewise. You can be sure you're not going to get a chance to stage a repeat performance on a second date.
Get to know each other a little before you spill the entire contents of your life, and give your date a chance to talk, too. Only by having a two-way conversation will you be able to figure out if this person is worthy of a second date.
Once you get to know one another a little better, you can start introducing more personal information (though you might want to wait on sharing the details of your doctor visits until you're married).
The first date is your only chance to make a first impression. Here's a tip: If you drink too much Merlot and throw up all over your date's shoes, unless you are a supermodel, A-list celebrity or the CEO of a multinational corporation, chances are this date is going to be your last with this person.
Here are a few other embarrassing moments that can quickly ruin a date:
- Forgetting your date's name (a mistake that will be amplified if you happen to run into someone you know and are forced to make an introduction)
- Not realizing until the check arrives that you've forgotten your wallet
- Running into an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend at your old favorite restaurant (especially if you spend the rest of the meal crying over that ex)
- Spilling food all over your shirt, or splitting your pants
- Choking on a piece of food
- Belching loudly
- Having "intestinal issues" and spending half the meal in the bathroom
Embarrassing moments like these can make for a memorable date, but not in a good way. Your relationship might end that night, but look on the bright side -- at least you'll have a funny story to tell your friends later.
You've finally met someone who seems to be perfect. The only problem is that she can't stop talking about her ex-boyfriend: How handsome he was, how perfect in every way, and how he tore her heart into little pieces. You know the color of his hair, the exact shade of his eyes, and what made him laugh. How are you supposed to start a relationship with a girl who still hasn't finished her last one?
It's understandable that we tend to hold on to the relationships that were most special to us. As time passes, the ex in question gets put on a pedestal. All of his or her transgressions are forgiven and forgotten, until only the good memories remain -- even if the relationship itself was far from perfect.
If you're the new girl or guy, it can be hard to live up to an ex's idyllic standards. Whether you stick it out and hope that the person you're dating will eventually move on and get more into you depends on how invested you are in the relationship. You can make an ultimatum -- "It's her or me" -- but only if you're prepared to walk out if the answer is "her."
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the in-love-at-first-sight date is the one who is completely emotionless. Your date might show up on time, but beyond that, she's just going through the motions.
It's pretty easy to tell when you're out with a cold fish, but just to clarify, here are a few red flags to watch for:
- Your date never asks you any questions about yourself, and when you talk, he or she seems bored by whatever you're saying.
- Your date takes you to decidedly unromantic places.
- You're not sure you're even out on a date, because there is no trace of intimacy. There's no hand-holding, no goodnight kiss -- you barely get a handshake.
- At the end of the date, you're left hanging. There's no promise of a second date, or any future communication beyond a vague, "Maybe we'll hang out again sometime."
There are a lot of reasons for these behaviors, the most obvious one being that the person you're dating is just not that into you. You can try to delude yourself into thinking that he's just nursing a broken heart from a previous relationship or dealing with major life issues. Whatever the reason, it's probably not going to get any better. Get out now, while your heart is still intact.
While it's acceptable to call good friends on a Saturday afternoon for a get-together that night, it's definitely not OK to do the same with someone you're dating. Calling for a date at the last minute says, "I'm not interested enough in you to make plans in advance."
Accepting a date at the last minute is equally problematic. It says, "I'm desperate. I have nothing better to do than go out with you this weekend." By agreeing to go, you're setting the tone for a relationship in which you allow yourself to be treated like a second thought. Expect lots of last-minute phone calls.
This brings us to another no-no: cancelling a date at the last minute. If you've suddenly come down with a horrible stomach bug and you can't stop vomiting, or if you're going to be fired unless you work until midnight, you've got an acceptable out. Otherwise, it's not alright to call an hour before a date and say your plans have changed. Unless, that is, you're hoping you'll never see the person again, because that's exactly what might happen.
Love at First Date
Countless stories have been told about love at first sight -- those lucky couples who know from the very first moment that they've found their soul mate. These lightning bolts of love (or lust) have been chronicled over and over in books, magazines and chick flicks.
We're not questioning that love at first sight exists. But remember that an intense physical attraction can banish every rational thought from your head -- and get you into big trouble.
Even though you might be burning with passion for this person, declaring your undying love on a first date, calling her every hour or driving by her house at regular intervals does not make you a hopeless romantic -- it might make you look like a stalker. If you're the object of such instant obsession, you might find it flattering at first, but eventually you're going to get a restraining order.
Pace yourself. Relationships weren't meant to be built in a day. Start slowly by going on one or two dates and calling each other a couple of times a week. If your dates are going well, gradually build up to spending more time together.
Almost everyone who's actively dating complains about how much they hate to play games (and we're not talking Monopoly here). "Why doesn't he call more often?" or "If she likes me, why can't she just tell me?"
Yet just about every dater falls prey to game playing at one time or another. No matter how well a date went, they stall for the requisite three days before calling or put on a poker face rather than revealing any sort of emotion. Another kind of game involves old-fashioned manipulation, such as pledging your undying love just to get someone into bed or stringing several people along at once. These games often are futile attempts to protect fragile egos.
In some cases, playing games can pay off. Aloofness creates a sort of challenge that some people find irresistible. Games can backfire, though, especially if the other person has been through a bad break-up recently. Nursing their own memories of a broken heart, they can mistake your reticence for disinterest and ditch you fast.
It's OK to tread carefully when you're dating, but if you really like someone, being open and honest is your best chance of getting him or her to stick around.
Ignoring the Warning Signs
He's gorgeous, successful and sweet, but there's this nagging little voice in your head warning you that something isn't quite right. Listen to it. Maybe he gets a little nasty when he's had a few too many drinks (which, it seems, is at every meal). Or, maybe she is obsessed with how much money you make.
Calling her mother every couple of hours, blowing off dates at the last minute, bringing her little dog on dates -- those are all red flags. And if you notice that your date is especially quick to lose his temper, or is physically too rough with you, break off that budding relationship as soon as possible. The last thing you want to do is get serious with someone who is potentially abusive.
As for the little quirks, everyone has them and some are easier to overlook than others. If his apartment could use a good cleaning, but he's the sweetest guy you've ever dated, get him a housekeeping service and enjoy your time together.
We all tell little fibs to get us through the day, from "I'm sorry I missed the big meeting; I was stuck in traffic," to "No, your butt doesn't look too big in that dress!"
Lies are also a big part of the dating ritual. We use them to get out of bad dates ("I'd love to go back to your place, but I promised to visit my grandmother in the hospital!") or to make ourselves sound smarter or more important than we really are ("After I earned my law degree at Harvard, I did a stint in the Peace Corps!").
The trouble with lying to a date, especially one you intend to see again, is that eventually, no matter how good of a liar you are or how small the fib might be, you're bound to get caught up in one of those lies. Like when he calls to check on your grandmother and hears club noise in the background, or when you run into his old roommate from community college.
Once you've been caught in a lie, it's hard for the other person to ever trust you again. The best relationships are built on honesty. So even if the truth is hard to say, suck it up and come clean.
Crossing the Line
There are a few behaviors that cross the line into dating nightmare legends. Here are some of the worst dating faux pas ever committed. Unless you're trying to get out of a bad relationship, don't try these at home:
- Casually asking your date, "Doesn't the waitress have fabulous breasts?" or handing the waitress your business card and whispering, "Call me."
- Pulling a Britney Spears when you step out of the car because you decided your little black dress would look better commando.
- Referring to yourself in the third person all night: "Tom would like the caviar" or "Tom would like to kiss you."
- Asking your date if she'd mind if you stopped to visit your parole officer on the way to dinner.
- Mentioning your cat in every other sentence.
- Mentioning your mother (or father) in every other sentence.
- Talking on your cell phone to an ex-girlfriend (or ex-boyfriend).
- Telling your first date what kind of dress or tux you'd like to wear when the two of you get hitched.
Try to avoid these dating faux pas, and if your date commits any, reconsider whether you're meant to be. Find links to more dating tips on the next page.
HowStuffWorks looks a study which showed 'aspirational online dating' didn't pan out for most people.
More Great Links
- Conner, Allison. "Top 10 Dating Mistakes." Psychology Today, Oct. 23, 2009. (Sept. 14, 2010) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/therapy-in-mind/200910/top-10-dating-mistakes
- Guiltinan, Colleen. "Unbelievable Dating Horror Stories." Fox News. April 23, 2010. (Sept. 15, 2010) http://www.foxnews.com/imag/Love/Unbelievable+Dating+Horror+Stories
- "The Rules Redux: Five Dating Mistakes Women Make…And How You Can Avoid/Undo Them." Huffington Post. Oct. 22, 2009. (Sept. 14, 2010) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jag-carrao/five-dating-mistakes-wome_b_326506.html
- Santos, Rich. "10 First-Date Mistakes." Marie Claire. March 31, 2009. (Sept. 14, 2010) http://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/men/first-date-mistakes
- Yelp. "Dating Horror Stories." (Sept. 15, 2010) http://www.yelp.com/topic/new-york-dating-horror-stories