Sure, you've been stood up. Heck, you might've even had an argument on a first date. But have you ever had a date jump out of a higher-than-ground-level window in an attempt to impress you? A very nice dental hygenist named Grace tried that trick as a first-date "surprise" and ended up spending it in the hospital.

That's just the kind of headshakingly unbelievable story I feature on A Bad Case of the Dates, a blog in which I collect, edit and post people's bad dating experiences.

But in order to keep from being a depressing collection of failures and broken dreams, I try to learn from each bizarre story. Of course, most of us already know not to throw water balloons at your date while she's on the toilet, or include her in a dark ritual without consent.

So from my vast storehouse of bad-date knowledge (including the firsthand kind), I've compiled a list of some more common ways in which normal people make for bad dates, so you can avoid them.


1. Post False/Old Pictures of Yourself
Jacob was a young man who ended his date seconds after it began. Audrey, his date, showed up 50 pounds heavier than she had appeared in her photos. Was he superficial? Possibly. Was she dishonest? Definitely.

The pictures you post of yourself should be no older than three to five years, and if they are that old, then they should still be an accurate representation of what you look like today.

Good looks change over time, but honesty is always attractive.

2. Have Unrealistic Expectations
Gwen is a friend who told me about Larry, a fellow who peppered their first (and only) date with a laundry list of criteria: "My ideal woman should stand less than 5-foot-7, she should be a doctor or at least a lawyer, she should have an older brother, and she should want no less than three children via my seed."

If you go in expecting anything, then you might be disappointed. If you go in expecting nothing, then you can only be pleasantly surprised.

3. Have Double Standards

I paid for Ellen's dinner. When I held the door open for her as we left the restaurant, she frowned at me and said, "I'm perfectly capable of opening my own door!"

If you're comfortable enough to be treated to dinner, then don't be upset when your date holds the door open for you. If you've dated a lot of people, then don't be upset when your date tells you that he/she has dated around, too.

Don't be a dating hypocrite.

4. You Talk About Your Former Relationships

I drove my date, Stacey, through my hometown on a first date once, and every few blocks, she'd point out the car window and inform me that "That's where Ben and I always used to have lunch on weekdays," or "Jack and I once fooled around in that alleyway," or "That's the cemetery where I lost my virginity."

There's being honest, and then there's too much information. Do you miss these people and situations? Or are you trying to make me jealous?

On the flip side, don't pester your date with too many questions about his/her past, especially at a first meeting. Even among the most candid, there are some things that are too personal to be asked on a first (and sometimes even second, third or 12th) date.

5.
You Are Untrusting
The first thing out of Gina's mouth (after "Nice to meet you") was, "I know you're expecting sex. There will be none tonight."

All men want sex. All women are crazy. You have these thoughts because you've been hurt in the past. That's not your date's fault. Give them the benefit of the doubt and the chance to show you that everything you learned about dating might be, pleasantly, wrong.

6. You're Impolite
Some foods can be eaten with hands. Other foods, like potato salad, should be eaten with a fork. I was on a date once in which my companion used her hands for her sandwich, the potato salad and for picking her nose at the table. Ugh.

It's my pleasure to pay for dinner on a first date, if you're comfortable with that. In exchange, I'm not looking for marriage or even a kiss, but I'd like a thank you. The absence of these two words is unattractive.

It implies (whether on purpose or not) that you expected me to pay from the beginning, or, at the very least, that saying thank you isn't important enough for you to remember.

This is gender-neutral. Everyone should be polite.


What's the quickest way to ruin a date?
Bad manners23680 (50.7%)
Misleading pictures7858 (16.8%)
Unrealistic expectations4130 (8.8%)
Talking about exes11023 (23.6%)


Jared Gordon is a screenwriter and professor living in Boston, and is also the editor of A Bad Case of the Dates.