Nora Ephron once said "Everything is copy," meaning if you're a writer, bad experiences are simply fuel for good stories. I have found this to be undeniably true. I was on a date recently where the guy just didn't get it. Nice enough, but he brought up every topic I loathe discussing. From detailed descriptions of his workouts (his trainer's name is Paul) to how guilty he felt breaking his diet (while I tucked into some pasta . . . ) *EYE ROLL EMOJI* This poor guy was falling over every conversational trip wire imaginable. I polled my friends on GChat the next day — what drives you crazy on a date? Unsurprisingly, there were common themes. "UGH I hate when guys talk about the gym on dates — why do they think I care?" griped one. "The worst is when they talk about their accomplishments too much — this isn't a Business School interview!" said another. It became abundantly clear — there are certain topics that just don't play well and should be avoided — at least until you're actually dating!
I am personalising a little, of course. A touch dramatic? Always. And yes, this all makes me seem like the most picky person (who will potentially never be asked on a date again after this?) but the world could do with a few guidelines on date etiquette. Here are the don'ts of date discussion.
DON'T: Talk About Your Fitness Regimen
Please, please don't talk about the gym. And hey, I get it — there are CrossFit romances to be had out there, but for most of my friends and me, talking about your iron-pumping schedule just isn't a titillating subject. I truly, deeply do not care if you work out six days a week. I secretly think that there is an inverse relationship between personality and time spent in the gym. As in the more time you log on a treadmill, the less fun you are.
DON'T: Talk About Your Weird Food Habits
No disrespect to my vegan friends out there, but if it's a first, second, or third date just don't bring it up. If we end up dating, I'll be forced to learn that you hate tomatoes and don't eat fish, but until then just keep it to yourself and order around your restrictions.
DON'T: Talk About Yourself (Too Much)
Ever been on one of those dates where near the end you realise you haven't been asked one question? Yeah, not a good look. Funnily enough, I am not taping a secret 60 Minutes about your life. A date is a two-way street.
DON'T: Talk About How Tired You Are
Surprise! Everyone is tired, everyone is sleep deprived. One of my friends regaled a hilarious story about a date she went on. They had arranged to meet at 9:30 p.m. because my poor friend works endlessly. The first thing the guy says is how he must have eight hours of sleep and so he'd have to leave promptly at 10:15 p.m. Newsflash: no one gets enough sleep. If you aren't interested enough to stay up past your bedtime, then it probably won't work anyway.
DON'T: Talk About Illegal Substances
Not because I'm some huge goodie-two-shoes, but because it is very, very rare — near impossible actually — to mention these in a charming way. There's truly no need to bring up whatever you did at Burning Man because even if it's not a big deal, it sounds tacky and immature. I once had a guy straight up ask me what drugs I liked — on a first date. I was confused, thinking, "Well, Midol is pretty important to me once a month . . ." and then I realised he was talking recreational. PASS.
DON'T: Brag About Your Job
Or how pleased you are with yourself because you have your own company. Or about your super fancy job. Oh, you're a banker — wow! Never met one of those before! I DGAF. You have your own company? OMG!!! (I live in Silicon Valley — my cat basically has a startup.) Of course I want to know what you do with your day, but please don't use this as an opportunity to beat your chest. That's what your mummy is for.
DON'T: Talk About Past Relationships
If it's an early-on date, nothing makes me wince more than, "My ex and I . . . " Eeeek! Not relevant right now! Please retreat! Before I swipe left!
DON'T: Keep Pulling Your Phone Out
Try to avoid talking about anything that requires a phone aid. This may not irk everyone, but I find it is a good indicator of personality when a guy whips out his phone to show you this or that. You mean to say you can't get through a measly hour and a half long dinner without digital help? Call me old fashioned, but isn't that what adjectives are for? Use your words!
The truth is, if there's a spark, then these rules go out the window. As with all dating advice — there are exceptions to the rules. On a recent date a guy brought up his obsession with serial killers and because I share that weird, niche obsession I found it charming. But until you are sure you have that warm fuzzy feeling — stick to the rules!