By Tammy Shaklee, Founder of He's for Me
You've done it. You've landed that cup of coffee or happy hour drink with a guy who just might be the one. Now you simply hope to find the right shirt, a great parking spot, and that he's a good conversationalist in person.
Well, Mr. Mister, please know the barista will not be responsible for how this one, short, first date can go wrong. You just might be.
As a certified matchmaker who only matches gay professional men seeking a long-term relationship, I'm often shocked during the feedback process by how intelligent, educated, and eligible bachelors unknowingly sabotage their one chance at a first impression. Without pointing fingers, I feel obligated to share what gay men tell me are a "turnoff" on a first date. There's a lot of consistency in what we hear in our office. So I not only personally coach our clients and bachelors on first date conversation do's and don'ts, but also share tidbits with you in case you score a date with one of my clients as well.
1) Gay Cruises - Do not ever mention, ask about, brag about, dis, or even laugh about a cruise. Gay men have strong connotations associated with gay cruises. I don't care if you lost your last love to the party circuit, nor does your date. Especially when he's scheduled to go on a gay cruise next holiday. It's just a topic you should not talk about on a first date. Trust me, I hear it a lot. If it comes up, do not judge, just change the subject to a vacation destination you hope to visit in the next year and ask what his favorites are as well.
2) Listing Men - Whether it's your last several dates, the guys in your complex, hotties at your gym, or your exes. A first date is not a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. It's a waste of time to spend these precious first minutes together talking about another man other than the one sitting right in front of you. Ask him about him. Figure out your mutual acquaintances later.
3) Polarizing Hobbies - Believe it or not, there are some, evidently. As your biggest fan, I think it's "hot" that you love console gaming, board gaming, quilting, crocheting, comic book collecting, roller coaster riding, sky diving, extreme camping, or vintage toy collecting. Although, for whatever reason, gay men may inappropriately judge based on unique hobbies or interests. Save it for the 3rd date, when you know he's starting to like you. That way he can either see himself possibly joining you in those someday, or is secure enough to know you'll enjoy those on your own, while he visits his elderly grandmother on Sundays.
4) Yelp Review - A first date is not your chance to write a food and beverage review for the New York Times. You simply chose a safe public location for a first date. Focus on the person, not the unfortunately less-than-quality food, service, beverage, ambiance, or parking. If he's the one, you'll laugh about it later, if you can laugh about it now. To obsess during the date is not attractive.
5) Relocation - We get it. You're driven with career plans and aspirations that may have you relocating someday. Don't discuss your shortlist of cities and future move. Be present. If he's the one, you guys will figure it out in time. See if you even want a second date before unveiling your future. Men will assume they're not in your plans, instead of finding it impressive and potentially adventurous.
6) Memoirs - A first date is not a documentation of every single thing about yourself. Save a little, will you? Do not spend a date asking a series of scripted questions about their philosophy on life. And do not perform a soliloquy of yours. Keep the topics light, varied, and interesting. Always leave a date wanting to know more.
7) (Silence) - Yes, it can be a problem. "Shutting down" as we hear it called. Men, please check yourself and do not "shut down" during a date. So what if this guy isn't the one in the first five minutes of meeting him? His roommate, best friend, coworker, boss, former classmate, or fraternity brother just may be. And if you fully present your best self on a first date, he's likely to tell that guy what a great date you are, which could lead to a future date with the right guy. When you "shut down" and go dark, you're shooting yourself in the foot.
As you can imagine, the list can go on and on, but these are some repeat offenders. In public, whenever I comment about dating conversations, most everyone will interrupt me and say, "We know, we know, don't talk about religion, politics, and your ex." And I usually reply, "Exactly, so stop doing that too!"
Being a great date is determined by so much more than the words you choose to share, but that's a whole other article. Stay tuned.
For more information on traditional introductions, courting, and dating for today's modern gay man, visit He's For Me, offline, personal matchmaking designed exclusively for select gay men seeking a long-term relationship - at www.H4M.com, and like us on our Facebook Page for daily inspiration on finding love. #loveislove
7 Bad Topics on a First Date
By Tammy Shaklee, Founder of He's for Me