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Image / Self / Relationships

First date deal-breakers: The seven absolute worst things to do on a first date


By Geraldine Carton
05th Feb 2024
First date deal-breakers: The seven absolute worst things to do on a first date

Dating is hard. It’s time-consuming and expensive and paranoia-inducing, but now it seems to be getting even harder, as today's daters are becoming far more cutthroat with their potential suitors.

With the pervasiveness of dating apps – and with it, the potential to find a better, less-annoying suitor with a simple swipe – modern daters are simply not willing to put up with one another’s crap as much as they might have once been before. Put plainly, in today’s climate if you are wielding an unsavoury attribute that your date has mentally noted as a dating “deal breaker” (e.g. you’re a racist/ you clip your nails at the dinner table, etc. etc.), you will not be seeing them again. There are no ifs, buts or maybes about it.

Gone is the belief that you might “grow to love someone”. No, when it comes to first dates nowadays, one wrong move and you’re kaput. Capeesh?

I spoke to seven actively dating singletons of different ages to get their take on what constitutes a deal breaker, and whether a person could ever make a comeback after committing this erroneous faux pas…

While the individual lists varied, each person agreed by and large that there was no return after committing any of the deal-breakers listed below.

Modern daters of Ireland, you have been warned.

1. Rudeness to staff

An immediate red flag that everyone in the group agreed upon, was that of being rude to staff during the date (getting overly vexed by slow service falls under this heading too). The general consensus is this: if you’re rude on a first date – a situation that people generally try to put their best foot forward in – what are you like on a day-to-day basis?

I was once on a date and the guy actually called our waiter ‘garçon before correcting the poor lad on his pronunciation of the word quinoaand finishing the awful moment up with a shmoozy wink directed at me. I was so close to throwing my red wine on him, except I knew I needed it to numb the pain of tolerating his presence for the rest of the meal.Amanda, 39

Tip: Don’t snap your fingers for the waiter’s attention; don’t correct him on his pronunciation of anything, and for god’s sake have the decency to look at them in the eye when you’re speaking to them. It’s nice to be nice. 

2. Talking about your ex

Why, oh why do people think it appropriate to talk about an ex on a first date? This was one of the most frequently mentioned faux-pas amongst our focus group. Not only does it make the other person feel awkward and uncomfortable, but it gives the impression that you have not moved on.

This girl I met up with once kept on bringing up her exes and referred to each one as ‘a total psycho. All I could think of throughout the date was that this is how she’s going describe me if we go out and then break up… And just like that, our relationship was ruined before it even began.Emma Jane, 24

Tip: Wait until at least date number two/three before you make any mention of exes. They’re out of your life for a reason, remember?

3. Ordering a neurotically healthy meal

The ideal first date should feature excited nerves and pleasure (the pleasure of getting to know someone new, obviously).

“There’s nothing worse than meeting up with someone who’s on a crazy health kick and will only order water and a plain chicken breast during a meal. It immediately makes them seem so boring and unadventurous. You only get one chance to make a first impression and if you want to be forever associated with plain, tasteless protein, then you’re not the one for me.”– Ciara, 41

Tip: It’s not that you can’t keep to a diet whilst dating, but maybe just meet for a coffee or a drink for that first date, or do something that doesn’t involve food at all if you want to stick to a specific eating plan. A plain chicken breast and glass of tap water just doesn’t scream “I’M GOING TO ROMANCE YOU UP, BABY”, now does it?

4. Being on your phone

Meeting up with someone who proceeds to talk, text or scroll through their phone during the date is an ever-increasing complaint nowadays, but that doesn’t make it acceptable.

“I could not get over the rudeness of this one date. In the space of 1.5 hours she took two phone calls, posted a selfie of herself on Instagram, and then I even caught her swiping through Tinder when I came back from the bathroom! She wasn’t the slightest bit embarrassed either. The girl had no manners.” – James, 29

Tip: The whole reason you’ve gone on this date is to get to know each other. Scrolling through your phone shows that not only do you have very little interest in your date but that you have very few manners, too. Give your thumb a rest and put the phone down. Social media will still be there when you’re done.

5. Arriving drunk

Dates can be nerve-wracking, and often people feel they might need a bit of Dutch Courage to calm them down before meeting the potential love of their life. This is all well and good, but arriving totally smashed having downed three shots of Sambuca and two G&Ts? Not cool.

“The quickest first date I ever went on was in a bar on Camden Street. The guy arrived 20 minutes late and was so drunk that I could hardly understand what he was saying at first. Within 15 minutes he had fallen off the barstool and run to the bathroom to get sick. Safe to say I was not waiting for him when he returned.” –  Jeanne, 27

Tip: Don’t let your nerves get the better of you and make you lose sight of how much alcohol you can handle. If you really need to take the edge off, try to keep it to just the one round.

6. Being too “touchy-feely”

Going on a first date usually involves spending time with someone you don’t know very well. With this in mind, you’d be best off refraining from getting too “handsy” if there’s any chance that your date might not enjoy it.

“I get that some people love touching and body contact in general, but I don’t. On one first date, this guy started touching my knee throughout the conversation. There was nothing more to it but I still felt totally awkward and was too worried about coming off prudish to outright tell him to stop. I knew there was no malice but it was a turn-off that he couldn’t read my body language, so I ignored his attempts to meet up again.” – Dan, 19

Tip: If you’re going to make a move, you really need to be sure that the person will be into it. If they seem in any way tense, then keep your hands to yourself. Don’t forget that you’ve only just met so there are distinct boundaries at play.

7. Not making an effort with appearance/personal hygiene

Briefly put, if you’re willing to let your first impression be one of greasy hair, bad breath, stained clothes or a general aura of “am I bovverrd?”, then prepare to not get a text back after the date is over.

“I remember arranging to meet a very normal-looking guy on Bumble, only to find a man who looked like the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang after a few all-nighters. There were multiple food stains on his shirt and his breath was so bad it was almost visible!” – Sarah, 31

Tip: Looks aren’t everything, but the very least you can do before a first date is take a shower, put on a clean outfit, and for god’s sake, brush your teeth.

Feature image by Khoa Võ via Pexels