7 Topics to Stay Away from on A First Date - dummies

7 Topics to Stay Away from on A First Date

By Pepper Schwartz

Here’s a tip for daters over 50 to remember: Some topics are never okay for a first date. Never! That’s not to say that they aren’t tempting, but learn to avoid these subjects. They rarely reflect well on you, and there’s time for tough topics later — but if you bring them up now, there may not be a later. Here they are, in descending order of danger:

  • Why your ex was so terrible: It doesn’t matter if your ex was the worst person on the planet — don’t go there. Even if you have true stories that would curl the hair of anyone listening, the ultimate impact is one of distaste.

    This thought will occur to your listener: “Maybe this person brings out the worst in someone!” or, “I wonder what the ex’s side of the story is… .”

  • The money you lost in your latest divorce: There are two offenses here. One, complaining about money, even if you were economically pillaged, isn’t a good idea. Your listener may feel that you’re cheap, overly materialistic, or just not being fair. Even if your date commiserates, the impact is sordid.

    This gets further compounded if you’ve been married multiple times. Divorce happens, so people understand once they know you. But in the beginning, your date may feel that she can’t be special in your life, and you eventually end up blaming your partners instead of being thoughtful about your own role in making a relationship work.

  • Portraying your dead or divorced ex-spouse as a saint: Don’t create an icon of your deceased spouse. If you feel that you must talk about your beloved ex-spouse, then you’re probably not ready to date again.

    That’s okay. There’s no shame in realizing that you aren’t emotionally ready to let another person back into your heart. But it’s not fair to be with a new person, especially on a first date, and have your heart and mind elsewhere.

    You may, however, just be talking about your ex because so much of your life was intertwined with her. It’s understandable, but avoid it because it will make your date feel that you’re not emotionally free yet. It’s even worse if you only speak of how amazing, fabulous, kind, and loving your partner was. Who’s brave enough to try and compete with someone who has achieved sainthood in her ex-spouse’s mind?!

    When talking about your past, use the word “I” as opposed to “we” — even if you’re describing something that you and your ex did together. If you use the word “we” all the time, you’ll make your date feel like you still think of yourself as part of a couple.

  • Health: If you feel your date is a compassionate person, you may be tempted to share some of your physical challenges with her. This isn’t a good idea because you’re telling her that you are or have been physically vulnerable, and this could scare her away.

    After she gets to know you, she may be willing to take on everything about you — including a serious illness — but if you set up a frightening picture of your health on hello, she may think it’s safer to avoid you. You don’t owe her all this information now. Later, probably, but not now.

    If you’re a jock and you seek someone who is very active, ask her whether she likes to hike. If she does, you can talk about specific hikes she or you have taken, and that should tell you enough about her level of ability to enjoy the same activities that you do.

  • Sex: Keep it zipped when it comes to sex. It doesn’t matter if she’s dressed like a sexy babe or he has bedroom eyes, a first date should avoid the topic of sex at all costs. There have been plenty of derailed first dates on which a man — and less often, a woman — brings up how important sex is and what he expects out of a partner.

    In general, he grosses out or scares his prospective partner. Unless you’re just looking for a hookup and know that’s what your date wants too, this topic is almost guaranteed to turn off the other person. So even someone who loves sex is likely to cross you off the list.

  • Kids: It’s okay to talk about your children — but just a little. You don’t want your date to think that you’re just looking for someone to parent or grandparent with! So:

    • Don’t show more than one picture of your kids or grandkids.

    • Don’t rhapsodize about their lives, trips you’ve taken together, and so on.

    • Don’t mention that they would have to approve of any serious relationship.

    • Just say you love your kids and other kids (if you do), and you have a good relationship with them and their families (if you do).

    Remember to avoid the tough stuff. If your child has challenging health, has been in trouble with the police, is neurotic — whatever — leave it be. Again, you want this date to be about the joy of discovery and having fun together. If you’re suited for each other, you’ll talk about these and other issues as the relationship deepens.

  • Money: You can talk about your job, your trips, and your hobbies, and these topics will reveal whether you have discretionary income and also tell you something about your partner’s lifestyle.

    But any direct questions such as “How much do you earn?” or “Has it been economically hard on you being a single mother?” are a very bad idea. People don’t want to feel that they’re being assessed as a potential business partner, an economic life jacket, or a lifestyle bonanza.

Stay in the present. Talk about each other and what you’re doing. Don’t bring up the past too many times except as a charming or illustrative anecdote that helps your date understand who you are now. Don’t weigh this first date down with sad details or the glowing memory of a deceased spouse. Create fun, laughter, insight, and warmth.