WHAT to talk about – and not talk about – on a first date is enough to send the stomach butterflies wild.
But with a new year upon us, many hopeful singletons will be diving back into the dating apps in the hope of finding their perfect match.
Recent research for dating app Bumble, found nearly a third of young people think it is fine to chat about being broke when starting a relationship – but what are the other rules and taboos?
Here, sexpert Kate Taylor reveals the best way to handle the thorny topics that could scupper a first date.
Sexy kinks? Don't mention!
Attraction is fuelled by dopamine in your brain, which thrives on anticipation and delayed rewards.
So, the more you talk about your sexual skills or preferences on early dates, the less your partner will be attracted to you. I wouldn’t advise it.
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Talking about sex won’t help you screen out bad lovers, either. Nobody ever says, “I’m lucky if I last two minutes,” or, “I’ve been told it’s like wrestling a pig.”
Instead, use your goodnight kisses to tell if you’re compatible, and build up flirting and teasing over a few dates to heighten anticipation and, therefore, lust.
If you have a deal-breaker kink, I’d still leave that conversation until you’re actually in a bed.
Then, bring it up as a suggestion: “How do you feel about…?” and see what they say as a response.
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How to bring up the ex
Repeat after me: “It just didn’t work out between us.”
That’s all you should say about your ex on an early date. Anything else can, and probably will, be used against you later.
If you say your ex was great, your new date will worry you’ll get back together.
If you say your ex treated you badly, your new date will (unfairly) wonder if you’re a doormat.
Just say, “Sadly, we weren’t meant to be,” then drop the subject.
And don’t interrogate new dates about their ex partners – if your date feels they’ve revealed too much, they’ll pull back out of embarrassment.
Instead, ask your date about their parents and junior colleagues, and watch how they treat the waiters – that’s how they’ll treat you later on, and how they probably really treated their last partner.
Broke? No problem
Genuine partners will judge you more on your attitude towards money than how much you currently have.
If you’re temporarily broke, just be upfront about it and explain why, so your date doesn’t assume you’re reckless or lazy. You can still be generous and thoughtful with limited funds.
You could say: “My rent has gone up since the interest-rate rise, and I can’t afford dinner. But I’ve found a [free event] you might like, and I can bring wine.”
Similarly, people can still be stingy even if you’re rich. DON'T boast about paying off your mortgage and then haggle about splitting the bill.
What the health?
If your health issues might affect your partner’s health (for example, an STD) or are immediately visible, talk about them right away.
Try saying: “Just to let you know, I have [your condition]. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.”
Dates will consider your attitude as much as your words, so try to present the information in a confident, matter-of-fact way.
If your condition isn’t immediately visible, or won’t affect your partner, I’d only mention it on the 3rd or 4th date, so you’re not defined solely by the condition.
Remember, if someone stops seeing you after you’ve revealed a condition, they’re rejecting the condition, NOT you.
In for the long haul
There’s no way to discuss marriage or kids on an early date without looking like Simon Cowell reaching for the golden buzzer, so, I’d hold off on talking about it for a while.
Let your boundaries do the talking.
If you’re looking for a serious relationship, just nicely say no to booty calls, text marathons without dates, or sex before exclusivity.
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The casual people will drop out, leaving only the real contenders, and then you can bring up the future.
Keep the conversation focussed on your needs, so you create a space where you can both be honest. For example, “I’m not interested in casual dating anymore.”
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