In last month's article ("Avoiding First Date Faux Pas Part 1: What Never to Do on a First Date"), we discussed what never to do on a first date (with a few additional great suggestions from readers). This month's Dating Faux Pas Prevention continues with another subject of concern to many; what are the two of you going to talk about on that first date? Even though this is one of the most common dating questions that I receive, I am instead sharing something far more important... what not to talk about on the first date:
**Don't discuss wanting to get married or have children: Obviously, if you have previously been married and/or if you have children, this is going to be a topic of discussion. Further, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to get married, get remarried, have children or have more children. However, future marriage plans and reproductive goals are not appropriate first-date conversation topics. You do not want your date feeling as though they are going to be dragged to a jewelry store after knowing you for all of two hours. And a side note to the gentlemen: Guys, this may seem obvious but please do not propose on a first date -- it is neither cute, nor is it romantic. It is just plain creepy (and yes, it does happen).
**Don't discuss personal finances; either yours or theirs: Talking about the current state of the national or world economy is fine and certainly a timely subject. However, discussing personal financial situations should remain off limits. In fact, I believe that until an exclusive relationship is established, finances should remain private.
**Don't engage in overtly sexual discussion: Playful flirting is fun; it's part of the dating process and it makes us feel good. However, imagine my own disgust when several years ago, one of my simultaneous first-and-last dates started describing one of his particular sexual predilections -- in extremely explicit detail and about ten minutes into the date. This was not flirting... this was frightening. I am by no means a prude but seriously, the only thing that this winner was lacking was a diagram.
I said it last month and I will say it again... what message do you really want to send? Playful flirting suggests that you are attracted to one another. Graphic descriptions of sexual scenarios in which you would like to engage immediately after meeting someone suggests that you drive a windowless van without license plates.
**Don't get into specific details as to how your previous marriage or relationship ended: It is perfectly normal to reveal a few details of how your previous relationship situation ended. However, do not go into a great amount of detail on the first date, as you might easily give the impression that you are still going through the earlier stages of the recovery process. For example most of the people I dated would inquire as to the circumstances surrounding my late husband's death. I would tell them that he had battled Lou Gehrig's disease (because not many people are familiar with the term "ALS") and the usual response was, "I'm so sorry." I then replied, "Thank you," and that was it. I would not go into any further details until or unless a relationship ensued.
The previous-relationship discussion certainly can and should take place if a relationship develops; however, discussing your past too soon, especially with great passion (whether that passion manifests as anger, sadness, tears or longing) will give the impression that you are not yet ready to date. If you are still recovering from the end of your previous relationship, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that; however, if that is the case, you may wish to consider stepping back from dating for the time being.
**Don't discuss illnesses/ailments/family issues: You do not want to lead with what is considered to be extremely personal information. For example, if you or a loved one has overcome a serious illness or disorder, that is fantastic and definitely cause for celebration; however, it is not a suitable first-date topic -- remember, your date is someone brand new to your life. The same thing goes for any kind of issues within your family (estate battles, divorce battles, custody battles, difficulty with children, finances, family estrangements, an unfortunate childhood, etc.). Again, these are definitely discussions that you can and should have once a relationship establishes; however, leading with these kinds of disclosures on a first date screams "Way too much information way too soon".
**Don't discuss job or career difficulties: It is entirely acceptable to discuss your careers on a first date; this is conversation that gives you a great sneak peek into the person with whom you are sitting. Moreover, and regardless of the social situation or scenario, one of the first questions that we are usually asked is, "What do you do?" However, if you are experiencing difficulties at work (a bullying boss or co-worker, a round of layoffs, etc.), keep that information to yourself for the moment and instead talk about why you love your career. If you are not especially happy in your current career, talk instead about the career to which you aspire and why.
...and let us not forget the "Big Two"
**Don't discuss politics or religion: It may be cliché, but it is true nonetheless. These are indeed the "Big Two"; the subjects that you will initially want to either tread extremely carefully around or avoid altogether. You can usually get a good feel for where another person is politically and religiously (or spiritually) just by talking to them, however, unless both of you are clearly on the same side of the fence (i.e., you met at your house of worship or at a political party fundraiser), these are hot-button issues that should be approached with great caution.
I once again congratulate you on your willingness to venture back out into the World of Dating. Doing so means that despite the pain that you have suffered with the end of your previous marriage or relationship, you also acknowledge your life is meant to be lived to the fullest in every respect and if you choose it, that life can and should include companionship and love.
Carole's latest book, "Happily Even After..." has won the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award. For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com
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