When your nerves get the best of you, it’s easy to blurt out something weird in the heat of the moment. That’s why it’s good to prepare yourself and know what questions or topics to avoid early on.
“For some, it can be too easy to talk only about your favorite subject ― you ― and ignore your date,” therapist Kurt Smith told HuffPost. “So do ask questions that give them an open door to share more about themselves. Just stay clear of explosive and too personal topics like politics, religion and money.”
So what questions should you be avoiding on date No. 1? We asked therapists to share their thoughts.
1. ‘Why did your last relationship end?’
Asking in-depth questions about your date’s exes and other past relationship details on the first date is not advisable, said psychologist Samantha Rodman. Remember: This is a date, not an interrogation.
“These can make someone feel put on the spot or judged,” she said. “Wait until later on, once you know you want to build a connection with this person, to inquire respectfully about their past relationships.”
It’s generally better to keep the tone of the evening upbeat, rather than dredge up potentially painful memories.
“Your date may then expect you to reciprocate and share your past dating experience,” psychologist Gina Delucca said. “Do you really want to spend your first date complaining about your exes and past relationship woes?”
2. ‘Why are you still single?’
This question may seem harmless on its face, but it’s unlikely to be received in a positive way ― even if you’re trying to flatter the person (e.g., “You’re so awesome. How are you not taken yet?”). Instead, it may imply there is something wrong with your date or being single in general.
“There is nothing wrong with being single, and not everyone’s goal in life is to be in a relationship,” Delucca said. “Even if the question is well intended and you actually mean it as a compliment, you should still avoid it.”
3. ‘Where are you really from?’
Asking your date where he or she is from seems innocent enough, right? But for people of color, this is a loaded question. Even if they say, “Oh, I’m from Chicago,” their response will often be met with, “No, where are you really from?” as if to imply that they can’t actually be from the country they live in.
“It’s OK to be curious about another’s ethnicity and heritage. However, this language implies that they are other, non-American and do not belong,” psychologist Jamie Goldstein said. “The underlying message and assumption behind this question is that America is a space meant only for white skin and English speakers.”
In the same vein, telling people how “exotic” they look or praising them for “having good English” may be taken the wrong way.
“Ultimately, these can be incredibly invalidating statements to make,” Goldstein added.
4. ‘How many people have you slept with?’
The number of sexual partners people have had is, quite frankly, nobody’s business but their own. Whether they have had many partners, just a few or none at all, this question is likely to make people feel uncomfortable and may cause them to put their guard up for the rest of the date.
“It’s considered an inappropriate and very intrusive question,” marriage and family therapist Danny Gibson said. “Your date will feel put on the spot and judged if he or she chooses to answer.”
On a related note, Smith suggested avoiding asking anything sexual on the first date.
“Don’t ask for sex, how many people they’ve slept with or about sexual interests and fantasies,” he said. “This isn’t the best approach if your goal is finding a long-term relationship. While sexual chemistry is something everyone is assessing on a first date, showing restraint in this area can actually make you more appealing.”
5. ‘How much money do you make?’
On a first date, your respective careers are normal fodder for conversation. But asking people to reveal their salary, especially this early on, will likely be perceived as intrusive.
“While it’s good to be interested in what your date does for a living, don’t show interest in money,” psychotherapist Tina Tessina said. “You’ll look like an opportunist.”
Even if you’re asking purely out of curiosity, seeking out this information may make your potential suitor doubt your intentions and relationship priorities.
“It makes you look like you are only interested in him or her for what he or she can do for you,” Gibson said. “Your date wants to know you are interested and attracted to him or her and not their wallet.”
6. ‘Where do you see this relationship heading?’
If the date’s going well, it’s natural to hope that the two of you will continue seeing each other. But asking about the future of the relationship during the first date is premature, to say the least, when you two have barely gotten to know each other.
“Remember this is a first date, and any attempt to make the first date into a long-term relationship makes you appear desperate and needy,” Gibson said. “It could raise red flags to your date that you are impulsive.”
7. ‘What was your most embarrassing moment?’
When two people are hitting it off, they may go beyond surface-level topics of conversation ― usually a sign the date is going well. But getting too personal too quickly may put your date in an uncomfortable position. You may be fine opening up about the time you had explosive diarrhea at the beach, but don’t assume your date is.
“Keep in mind that on first dates, there is such a thing as too much information or oversharing,” Smith said. “No one on a first date wants to talk about their most embarrassing moment.”
8. ‘Do you want kids?’
If having kids is important to you, then finding a partner with similar family goals is probably a nonnegotiable. Understandably, you don’t want to waste time on someone who doesn’t want the same things out of life that you do. But asking this before you two have gotten to know each other could be a turn-off, Tessina said.
“If your date brings it up, it’s OK to talk about it, but bringing it up yourself has an air of desperation that will put your date off,” she said.
9. ‘Are you attracted to me?’
“Do you like me?” “Do you think I’m handsome/sexy/adorable?” Sure, you hope your date is attracted to you, but asking this so bluntly can be off-putting on a first date.
“Don’t ask questions about your appearance like, ‘Do you think I look fat?’” psychologist and sex therapist Janet Brito said. “This might give them the impression that you are needy for reassurance and lacking in self-confidence.”
10. ‘Who’s your hot friend?’
Let’s say you spotted a rather attractive person in several photos on your date’s Hinge profile. Is this observation really worth mentioning to your date? Especially when you consider it could make the other person feel less desirable in comparison. Keep your attention focused on the lovely person sitting across from you instead.
“Don’t let your date know you just went out with him or her to meet someone he or she knows,” Tessina said. “Or show interest in other, better-looking people while you’re with your date. You wouldn’t like it if he or she did it.”