Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

15 Topics To Avoid on a First Date

Confession time: I am totally obsessed with this season of “The Bachelorette.” I mean, I’ve watched just about every season of “The Bachelor” franchise, sometimes begrudgingly, often because I have nothing better to do on a Monday night, but this season I am watching because I’m actually riveted by it (even without my pre-pregnancy bottle o’ wine for added fun). One thing that was not so riveting though was the conversation between Ryan and Ashley on their first one-on-one date in last night’s episode. When Ryan asked Ashley what she did for the environment and she confessed she was a planet-hater (Well, she said she threw plastic away in the regular trash, anyway. Same thing.), Ryan then broke into long speech about the horrors of hot water tanks (Skip ahead to about 5:40 in the clip above). Sexy! A few minutes after the conversation ended, Ashley sent Ryan packing, telling him she “just wasn’t feeling it.” And then Ryan, in his post-rejection testimonial wailed into the camera: “I just want someone I can love unconditionally!”

Oh, Ryan, you shoulda stuck to safe topics, like wine and how nice Ashley’s eyes are. After the jump, 15 other topics people should avoid on a first date if they want to be kept around for another.

1. Awards you won elementary school (too pitiful).

2. How many pull-ups you did at the gym today (too desperate).

3. Favorite hemorrhoid remedies.

4. Your ex.

5. How good the chick at the next table looks.

6. Why Valentine’s Day sucks (too loaded).

7. How angry you are with your parents.

8. How you lost your virginity.

9. Favorite chess moves.

10. Your termite problem.

11. Insights from your therapist.

12. Insights from your dental hygienist.

13. How great your tan looks.

14. How insecure you are about your overbite.

15. Scenes from The Bachelor/ette.

What are some first date topics that have left you less than enthused?

57 comments… add one
  • kerrycontrary July 12, 2011, 11:05 am

    definitely avoid number 2! I met this guy in college who would tell me about working out at the gym every time I saw him. And then he would call me about talk for 45 minutes about his intense work outs. I think he was trying to impress me but it was just obnoxious and also made me feel out of shape. Needless to say it never went anywhere.

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  • silver_dragon_girl July 12, 2011, 11:20 am

    I went out with a guy who was (apparently) fresh out of his divorce. I think it had been a while, but he hadn’t dated much since then. Anyway, his topic of choice was his divorce, his three kids (ok, fair enough), and how he was now trying to help other dads get custody of their kids because the entire legal system is biased against fathers. He also threw in some anecdotes about the scar he had from a surfing accident and how insecure he was about it (I think– I wasn’t paying much attention by that point).

    Keep in mind that I was 22 at this point, so divorced with three kids was a little much for me. Looking back, I have no idea why I went out with him in the first place.

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  • sweetleaf July 12, 2011, 11:36 am

    I’m an open book person and I prefer my date to be that way as well. It wouldn’t even bother me to talk about poop on a date. Hey, poop is funny!

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    • honeybeenicki July 12, 2011, 11:40 am

      My best friend is a nurse, so bodily functions are often dinner topics. Grosses some people out, but hey whatever floats your boat.

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  • honeybeenicki July 12, 2011, 11:38 am

    I was set up on a blind date with someone and all he could talk about was a) his workout schedule, b) how great he was in bed (according to his exes and one night stands) and c) how he thought that girls who wouldn’t give bjs were prudes. Needless to say, we had the one date and that was it.

    But… I am guilty of one bad first date conversation topic too. I used to work in a halfway house for sex offenders and I was (and still am) very passionate about my work. When my ex and I split and friends started trying to set me up, they had to tell me repeatedly to not discuss my job. Apparently it was scaring some people off, so eventually I toned it down. When asked the question about what I did, I would answer with “I work in a community based correctional facility” and only expanded when they showed genuine interest.

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    • LTC039 July 12, 2011, 4:14 pm

      Was your blind date, Mike the Situation??

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  • Jena July 12, 2011, 11:46 am

    @#10 I’ve often found a funny talking ground when discussing my old apartment’s palmetto bug problem and my landlord’s subsequent brushing-me-off that led to me getting a pet (no pets, eh? these bugs are big enough to be pets and you won’t do anything about them? i’m getting a dog!)

    and sort of @#7, it’s always such an awkward conversation killer when someone asks about my parents… “well, my mom lives up north, and my dad died two years ago” (…..cricket…..cricket…..) it’s not a sore subject and i have to totally jump through hoops to get past that one in conversation but what else could i do, lie?

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      Betsy July 12, 2011, 12:55 pm

      I have been trying to figure out a nice way to answer that question since I was 10. It doesn’t matter what I say, everyone just feels guilty for asking!

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      • Lexington July 12, 2011, 2:22 pm

        I just rush past it real fast and then change the subject.

      • Jena July 12, 2011, 3:17 pm

        Yep, did it last night. “Are your parents still together?”

        I was like “well, my dad died two years ago, so…not really, haha”


        “but it wasn’t a sudden thing and it sucks but what can you do. sorry that’s a conversation killer. NEXT!”

        “dang. I’m so sorry.”

        “it’s cool. no big deal!”


      • Fairhaired Child July 13, 2011, 12:21 am

        People ask me that about my parents and I’ll go
        “oh well my mom lives in ___and my dad is in Baltimore.”

        and if they keep asking more questions it can go like:

        “what do they do?”
        “oh my mom works for the university, my dad does nothing”
        “Is that why they’re seperated?”
        “oh they aren’t seperated.. he’s dead and the cemetary is in baltimore”
        “I am so sorry”
        “nah its ok.. thats why i always put it the way I do because everyone always instantly feels sorry.. its not like they did it or could have stopped it from happening so why say I’m sorry?”

  • Addie Pray July 12, 2011, 11:56 am

    I don’t have a first date “conversation” to report but I do have a first date “oops” that I hope to never repeat. (Background: I often keep tampons in an eyeglass case in my purse. They fit perfectly; the hard case keeps them from getting smooshed; it holds the right amount; and it’s inconspicuous when you are walking down the hallway to the restroom carrying an eyeglass case. There, ladies, that’s my plug for using eyeglass cases to carry tampons). Anyhoo, I was on a date, at a restaurant, when my date pointed to something on the wall. I couldn’t see that far because -of course- I was not wearing my glasses; you know, I wanted to look cute, so I left the glasses in my purse. I reached into my purse to get my glasses so I could see, but I grabbed the wrong case. The case was one of those hard-shelled cases that you snap open with a firm pull – there was no zipper or flap to open. So I snapped the case open… and 4-5 tampons popped out all over the table. They literally sprung out, flying in different directions. One landed in his plate, one rolled off the edge of the table. … He started helping me pick them up. Awkward. FML.

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    • elisabeth July 12, 2011, 3:03 pm

      Just wanted to say that I use an eyeglass case, too! Mine’s a soft, open-ended case, though, so no case-popping issues.

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      • Addie Pray July 12, 2011, 10:41 pm

        Very smart. Stick to the open-ended cases. Or at least fucking remember which case you put the tampons in. And if you are in doubt, open the damn case slowly. s.l.o.w.l.y, and all will be fine.

    • LTC039 July 12, 2011, 4:10 pm

      Out of curiosity, was there a second date??

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      • Addie Pray July 12, 2011, 4:33 pm

        Yes, there was, and many more dates after that. And many laughs about the tampons. πŸ™‚

      • LTC039 July 12, 2011, 4:49 pm

        Well that’s good! & quite the ice breaker!

      • Addie Pray July 12, 2011, 4:51 pm

        Yes, and it was good to get the secret out: I use tampons. Ha! I think he was more embarassed than me, actually. I mean, what’s the protocol when a tampon lands in your plate?!? It must have been hard for him.

      • SweetChild July 12, 2011, 10:02 pm

        “What’s the protocol when a tampon lands in your plate?!?” Now that is a question for an etiquette expert if I ever heard one. πŸ™‚

  • MellaJade July 12, 2011, 11:59 am

    I’ve got one for ya from a date I had last month – don’t tell an ‘amusing’ story about how you and your friends were wanted for questioning by police in a foreign country 10 years ago for a gang bang of one of the locals. As I sat there horrified by this story, I asked ‘and did you participate’? He replied, ‘no, I was just the look out holding the door of the ladies’ room’. Repugnant toad. That date was one of the longest hours of my life.

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    • Jena July 12, 2011, 3:18 pm

      i would have stood up and left IMMEDIATELY.

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    • kf July 12, 2011, 7:21 pm

      See, I think this refutes the entire premise of the post. People like this should tell these stories on every first date they ever go on, as a big flashing warning.

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  • sarolabelle July 12, 2011, 11:21 am

    They are so setting him up to the next Bachelor in this clip!

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  • SGMcG July 12, 2011, 12:36 pm

    Anything involving criminal records should be avoided as a first date topic. Yet even though certain topics should be avoided on a first date, I tend to ignore requests for a second date from those who exhibit behaviors that should have been avoided on the first date. If you treat the waitstaff like crap or go into rage spirals on them, I not only don’t give you a second date, depending on how much of an asshole you are, you don’t even get to finish the first one.

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    • honeybeenicki July 12, 2011, 12:41 pm

      Ugh I hate when people are rude to the wait staff and it seems to happen a lot on first dates. Are they trying to impress their date or something? Because its not impressive. I had 2 dates with a guy who refused to tip anyone unless the service was over the top outstanding. I didn’t even really notice on the first date, but on the second when I asked if he wanted me to leave a tip he went on this rant about how they are getting paid to do their job so we shouldn’t have to tip them unless it is super-fantastic service.

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      • Greebo July 12, 2011, 1:56 pm

        Life lesson: anyone nice to you but mean to the wait staff is not truly a nice person.

      • Britannia July 13, 2011, 2:39 am

        I can’t believe there are still people out there that use that argument – “They’re getting paid for it, so why should I tip?” Uh… because the government EXPECTS you to tip, and thus waitstaff have hourly wages well BELOW the minimum wage. Plus there’s a million ways that some restaurants bend the waiters over to screw them out of their tips, like tip pooling and “failure to report” a minimum amount of tips that waiters are EXPECTED to earn.

        The waiters get paid to show up and perform basic tasks like cleaning the restaurant and tables. YOU pay them to wait on you. If you don’t tip them, they’re basically waiting on your ungrateful ass for free.

  • Tristy July 12, 2011, 12:52 pm

    I used to talk to this guy who talked incessantly about going to the gym and eating healthy. Every conversation he managed to spend at least 20-30 minutes on it. And he had the dryest sense of humor in the world. He was just way too serious for someone as silly as me πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I steer clear of discussing religion or politics on the 1st date. Just too deep for a 1st date.

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  • CG July 12, 2011, 12:56 pm

    Well, to defend poor Ryan, she *did* ask him what she could do to help the environment, so he didn’t launch into that water heater spiel on his own. Plus, he works in that field, and people tend to talk about their jobs. I felt really bad for him last night! And Wendy, this is the *worst* season of the Bachelorette to be obsessed with! Ashley is so whiny and annoying and insecure. But yes, I still watch anyway. πŸ™‚

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    • PFG-SCR July 12, 2011, 1:02 pm

      Exactly – she asked him to teach her something, and while the topic of conversation wasn’t exciting, his passion for it was evident. Yet instead of realizing that, her facial expressions gave away her losing interest in him as he was talking, and she couldn’t wait to cut him loose.

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  • MsMisery July 12, 2011, 1:51 pm

    Once on a first date (which was also a blind date), the guy gave me a gift… a t-shirt that said “Don’t Mess With Texas.” He’d just gotten back from visiting friends or family there (I can’t remember which). Umm… okay??? You think I would want this WHY? It was also way too big. At the end of the date, which was so boring & awkward and had no chemistry (at least I thought so), he asked me if I “like to cuddle.” I said no, which is pretty true, but had never been more true than at that moment. The word cuddle still skeeves me out.

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  • LTC039 July 12, 2011, 12:59 pm

    What about when he’s trying to show you a picture of something on his phone & *oops! there’s still pictures of his ex in her bra, sitting on his bed…


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    • silver_dragon_girl July 12, 2011, 2:08 pm

      True story: I showed a friend a picture of my cat on my phone, and she took it upon herself to start scrolling through photos and found something she did NOT want to see…

      So if someone lets you see a pic on their phone, DON’T start looking through other photos on your own. It may not be safe!!!

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      • kdog July 12, 2011, 2:15 pm

        Haha, yea my best friend was scrolling through pics on my camera and based on her comments I knew what photos she was getting ready to see and told her not to go past where she was. She chose not to listen and got an eye-full. She was definitely freaked out, but what was she expecting??

      • PFG-SCR July 12, 2011, 2:28 pm

        I know you shouldn’t have to because no one should be scrolling through your pictures on their own, but there apps you can download to keep those “private” pictures elsewhere. They’re cheap (some are free, but don’t hold much), and some of them are password protected.

      • silver_dragon_girl July 12, 2011, 2:37 pm

        My phone doesn’t have “apps” πŸ˜‰ It barely has a camera! And I usually delete them immediately after I send them to my bf but this one slipped through. πŸ˜›

      • TheOtherMe July 12, 2011, 2:42 pm

        But, but, what was the photo of ??????

      • LTC039 July 12, 2011, 2:27 pm

        I didn’t! I never grabbed his phone, HE was scrolling the the pics. I would never do that on a first date, or ever for that matter.

      • silver_dragon_girl July 12, 2011, 2:39 pm

        Lol, I’m sure you didn’t, I was just offering cautionary words to everyone in general πŸ™‚

      • LTC039 July 12, 2011, 3:55 pm

        haha ok, just wanted to make sure I wasn’t mistaken for some creeper girl that sneaks through unsuspecting date’s phone.

      • LTC039 July 12, 2011, 4:07 pm

        & I agree with you my bf & I had a mutual friend (who was a gay man) & one day my bf & his friends were over at his house & he was showing them pictures of some party on his camera. Well they were scrolling themselves & I guess weren’t warned about the content of some of the pictures & well….let’s just say they got a inside look into what happens in his bedroom.

  • mf July 12, 2011, 2:37 pm

    I don’t have any terrible first date conversation stories. The worst thing that I’ve experienced is trying to talk to guys that are super-shy and have trouble carrying on the conversation. In those situations, I’ve felt like I have to single handedly carry the conversation or we will lapse into very awkward silence. As a former shy girl, I’m pretty good at drawing out shy people in conversation, but some of these guys were tough cases.

    In general, my strategy towards first date conversation has been to try to show interest in the other person: ask questions, seek his opinion, try to respond positively (but genuinely) to his thoughts. You don’t want to be that person who only talks about him or herself. (Although you do want to talk about yourself enough to give your date an idea of who you are, your personality, your temperament, your passions and hobbies, etc.)

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    • SpaceySteph July 13, 2011, 12:51 pm

      I feel your pain. I went to a friend’s party where I was to be set up with her boyfriend’s older brother, who happened to live in the city I was about to move to.
      At first I thought it was because he didn’t know it was a set up or wasn’t interested, but later I learned that he is just SUPER awkward and shy.
      I kept trying to ask him questions about his work, about the city, about what he did for fun…anything really. He answered with one word answers (and sometimes just grunts). I appreciated my friend’s effort- it would have been nice to learn a little about my new city from a local before I moved- but it was the WORST set up ever!

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    sobriquet July 12, 2011, 3:38 pm

    A fancy vacation you took years ago, unless it directly applies to our conversation. On a very lukewarm first date, a guy talked and talked about a trip he took abroad. Since he brought it up out of the blue, I assumed the trip was recent. No. The trip happened 8 years prior. He was just trying to impress me. It didn’t work.

    Also, I love how on their first date Ryan chose to ask the big, important question: “So, what are you doing for the environment?” I laughed so hard. That’s what he chose to talk about this late in the game? And the expression on his face when she told him she wasn’t feeling it. He was shocked that she didn’t want to meet his family! He should know that if you haven’t had a 1-on-1 date at this point, you’re going to get sent home. That’s just how the formula goes.

    Honestly, he reminded me of my ex, so I’m glad he’s gone. My ex was very energetic and outgoing, really cared about his work, but was totally clueless to the emotions of others. He always wanted to “teach” me something, or talk about his work, but he was never able to have deep, emotional conversations. It was all surface. His parents also worshiped him, so he was a bit narcissistic. He even told me after we broke up that he had a difficult time caring about other people. WHOA red flag! Anyway, he would have been shocked, SHOCKED, if he were sent home on that date, too!

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  • justpeachy July 12, 2011, 3:51 pm

    This is an exact quote from my husband on our first date:

    “So…are you my girlfriend now?”

    He’s like to joke about how he could write a book about all the things to do wrong at the beginning of a relationship. How he managed to not scare me off probably says a lot more about me than him though…

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    • TheOtherMe July 12, 2011, 3:58 pm

      You still married him so he couldn’t have been THAT wrong πŸ™‚

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      • justpeachy July 12, 2011, 4:08 pm

        No, I know. But I could write at least half a dozen other things he did within the first month of dating that would have sent any sane person running for the hills. But apparently I’m not sane.

  • LT July 12, 2011, 5:07 pm

    Wendy, if you were not pregnant and you lived in the Midwest, you would be invited over for Bachelor/ette Mondays. Sangria, tacos and snarky comments! Every season my friend and I say that we’re done, but we keep coming back for more.

    God, I watch crap…

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      Wendy July 12, 2011, 5:10 pm

      Sounds like my kind of monday night!

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  • GertietheDino July 12, 2011, 5:26 pm

    I once went on a date (Match.com) who was impossibly shy – he barely said an actual word to me all through dinner.

    Another (and this is the reason I no longer accept dates while at the bar) couldn’t stop talking about Ninjas (he’d just read a book) and Communism…Do you think I’m a Communist? What do you think of Communism? He was Russian so I will give him that, but really?!?

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  • SpyGlassez July 12, 2011, 6:37 pm

    Ok, this was actually our second date, but another rule might be:

    DON’T go on about your WoW raids unless you are POSITIVE the other person can a) understand what you’re talking about and b) gives a damn.

    We’re still together, but sometimes I still tease him about going out to a nice restaurant and getting to know all the fine points of raiding parties.

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    • PinkPanther July 12, 2011, 9:48 pm

      Gah! b) gives a damn… oh so important! Unfortunately, I understand it quite well. Especially considering that I’ve never played the game…

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  • Elle July 12, 2011, 6:13 pm

    16. Your roadside-kill bone collection. It didn’t happen on a date, he’s a single guy in my circle of friends, and this is one of the reasons I can’t fathom dating him. There are others, but this one is over the top.

    17. How you shit your pants. Hilarious as it may be, you don’t want your date to imagine you with your pants full of shit. I think I’m giving such a vibe that guys think they can talk to me about anything, but they should really filter themselves…

    I think number 2 is pretty important. The reason I don’t get back with my exes is that I don’t want to be reminded of why we broke up. Well, most of my relationships ended because they cheated on me. They never gave me a reason that had to do with me, so I must be perfect(sarcasm).

    Awesome list, btw. I’m constantly impressed by how insightful Wendy is, and she just keeps it coming!

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  • Marie July 12, 2011, 8:06 pm

    So I study herpes biolgy as a virologist in grad school (don’t worry its just the cancer-causing kind, not the STD kind) and I have this joke about “I don’t have herpes but I’m working on it!” Seriously the one guy who didn’t laugh during my online dating days was a totally goner. In hindsight I realize that this topic may have qualified as something on Wendy’s list . . .

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    • Fairhaired Child July 13, 2011, 12:15 am

      I’m a medical technologist, and when we were working on our “unknown” organisms and trying to grow them out – after a particularly stressful day (several of our plates did not work out at all because of a power failure) one of my class mates got up and yelled “OMG I HAVE HERPES!” and danced – and the whole class was silent before laughing as she stuttered “on my plate! on my plate!” So we joked about getting t-shirts made up with it. With our school name, MDTC and then the quote “I have herpes… ” and then on the back “on my plate”..

      we never got them but I still think they would have been funny

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  • Joanna July 13, 2011, 12:22 am

    I once went on a date with a guy who was a pill popping fanatic. He would buy prescription drugs illegally on the internet to try and he proceeded to give me a rundown of each one he tried and what it did. Then he went on to talk about ones he hadn’t done but wanted to try. That date was not over fast enough.

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  • Britannia July 13, 2011, 2:45 am

    One of the biggest things that turn me off from a guy is when he does nothing but tell stories. “Oh my god, this was so funny… blah blah blah AND THEN OMG blah blah blah.” Without any sort of comic presentation, he’s just telling me exactly how it happened and expecting me to visualize it and find it just as funny as he did. I’ve found that usually, this kind of guy just tells the same rotation of “stories” over and over again, which drives me crazy.

    Yeah, I’m sure it was funny when it happened. But I wasn’t there. Cool story bro.

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