No wonder so many make a hash of online dating and complain that nothing ever seems to go right. There is so much awful, awful advice out there that at best we feel confused and at worst we destroy any chance of seeing the other person again. When I started online dating it was all new to me so naturally I went looking for all sorts of advice about writing a profile, how to approach a potential date, where to meet, what to do and how to act etc.
Some of it was old-fashioned and irrelevant in the modern day. Some of it was counterproductive to what a date is supposed to be about and some was just bizarre. Here then, is my sample list of worst dating advice I came across. Some of it is specific to men, some to women but most is generalised:
- Perfect First Date: Expensive Restaurant No, no, no. Save this for later even if you are one to throw money around. If you decide quickly that nothing is happening you are stuck in their company for an uncomfortable 2-3hrs (which will feel like a week) with an expensive bill at the end of it and a lot of wasted effort.Coffee date might be unimaginative but there’s no pressure and you can leave after just one. If things go well it leaves you wanting more. If they don’t, little harm done to the bank account
- On a date keep answers brief and ask lots of questions. This advice is aimed at men and women and suggests that any questions you are asked should be answered promptly with you firing a question straight back. Women should (apparently) do it because men love to talk about themselves and men should do it (apparently) so as not to come across as an egomaniac. Do you see a problem here? Two people on a date are not going to get very far if both are following this advice. If you do this you are going to frustrate your date on two levels. 1) they’re going to feel interrogated and 2) they will come away having learnt next to nothing about you. Conversation should flow; let it progress organically because you don’t need a rule about when to talk and how much to say.
- Maintain your distance on a second date. You might be really pleased to see them again but don’t tell them that or they’ll think you are desperate (apparently) We all want to feel that our date feels some affection toward us so what sort of an oddball would feel freaked out at a hug or a peck on the cheek? Is this a date or a business meeting? Once you get past one date and a few flirty text messages you ought to feel comfortable enough around them to show some warmth and tentative affection. Being cold and distant is going to put them off.
- Don’t intimidate him. Men are apparently intimidated by women who know their own mind and there’s nothing more terrifying than ambition, except perhaps, for (gasp) humour. Where bullshit like this comes from I don’t know but men do love a woman with character; being pretty and meek isn’t enough (not sure it ever was). And if he is the sort of man who wants you only to look pretty and never open your mouth or engage your brain then walk away because he will make you very miserable indeed.
- Buy a gift Many dating advice tips suggest that a man should buy a woman flowers on their first date. Old-fashioned and these days, counterproductive. Female friends of mine who have been bought gifts on an early date comment about feeling embarrassed or that their date is trying to buy them. I’d feel the same if a woman bought me something just because we’d agreed to meet for coffee, that I was expected to feel obliged to see her again. Leave this until you have decided you want to get exclusive.
- Fashionably late Aimed at women for sure, it is apparently always the done thing to turn up late. But why? What is wrong with turning up on time or even a little early? If a man did this to a woman without explanation you probably wouldn’t want to see him again so ask yourself why you are being told it is acceptable for you to do so. I really do not get it and never have done.
- Play hard to get. Something else aimed at both genders but if it was ever good advice, that time has passed. In this world of online dating, constantly wasting somebody else’s time by dithering, hanging around and not giving concrete plans – especially under the ludicrous notion that it makes you more desirable – is likely to see you without a date at all because they’ll tire of your games quickly and move on to the next one.