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First Dates: Are You Scaring them Away?

first dates scary

Don’t Scare Away Your Dates!


There’s nothing worse than going out on a first date and thinking everything went well, only to later discover that the person you liked is no longer is interested. To be sure, there are times when two people don’t “click” for a variety of reasons, such as having different backgrounds or tastes.

If however you have detected a pattern where first dates rarely turn into second ones, it might be helpful for you to look in the mirror and ask the question:

Am I scaring away my first dates? 

First date experiences are by far one of the most common topics that come up during couples therapy with single clients in my experience.

Let’s face it – going out on a first date can be complicated business! This reality is particularly true of individuals who are new to the dating scene or who have not been on the market for some time because they were previously involved.

Given how frequently this issue comes up with single women and men in the counseling office, I decided to unscientifically survey about 100 people, straight and gay, to gain better insight into what behaviors may be acting as major “turn-offs” during first dates. As part of my research, I also talked to a number of relationship counseling experts to collect their observations.

After going through my notes and extracting prominent themes, Reaching Life Goals is ready to present the 5 ways you may be scaring off first dates.



5 Scary First Date Behaviors

The five first date “no no’s” listed here illuminate the different ways you may be unintentionally chasing away your love interests. They are gender neutral, meaning they apply to women and men and universal to straights and gays alike.

I’ve skipped the obvious ones, like talking about your ex during date number #1 or using your smart-phone to text with friends.

Instead, I’ve highlighted the not so obvious ones, which do not get nearly enough attention but should because it turns out they matter!

Disclaimer: This list is not intended to be exhaustive and focuses on the “biggies”. Because I am a very direct and up front person, I am not going to sugar-coat here or use a bunch of flowery language to make the point. I’ll give it to you straight.

OK are you ready – let’s jump right in!

1. Over complimenting your date

There is nothing wrong with letting the person you are on a date know with that you find them attractive. In fact, it is expected on some level of another.women-compliments

With that shared, if you are over-complimenting your date and making remarks like:

  • I can’t believe someone like you would be on a date with me because you’re so hot, or;
  • Why are you interested in me – you can have anyone you want… or;
  • Are you sure I am your type – I feel you are out of my league.

You are very likely sending the person the message that you think little of yourself. Tough to hear this I am sure but it’s real folks.

On a related point, if you are continuously complimenting your first date about their personal appearance, it may come off that you are fishing for a compliment. Folks, that’s unattractive and even a little desperate.

Solution: During the first date, do tell the person you think they look “handsome” or “pretty” or whatever descriptor you would like to use. Say something once and maybe twice but after that, stop. Don’t pressure that first date into feeling like they have to compliment you. Instead, let it happen naturally.

2. Not able to accept a compliment

If your date is attracted to you, they will likely make some type of comment that speaks to your appearance. Examples might be … Wow, you look amazing in that dress!  OR I like the way that shirt fits you.

Sounds nice huh?

Guess what doesn’t sound nice … the part where you offer any of the following in response to the compliment

  • Oh, please I’m hiding a lot under this dress.  stk108789cor.preview
  • I need to work out more.
  • I’ve put on weight in the past few months.
  • I can barely squish into these jeans

For goodness sake, why are you sabotaging yourself by discounting a genuine compliment given to you by your date?

Solution: If you get some kudos thrown your way on your first date, accept them and say thank you. Don’t question it, don’t minimize it and don’t sabotage it. Simply say thank you. When you accept the compliment, you come off as confident. Any other response may put out vibes of low self-esteem or on the flip-side, fake humility. Just take the compliment.

3. Over planning

The magical point in time has come where you and the person you are interested in have jointly decided to go out on an initial date. Right on! Now comes the hard part – figuring out where to go and what to do. While there are lots opinions on this particular topic, one thing is for sure … if you over plan your first date, you are planning for disappointment. Sorry, but it’s true.


Simply that’s the way life works! Things don’t always go exactly as planned. To think otherwise sets yourself up for an unhappy dating experience for the both of you.bad-date-pic

What does over planning look like?

Let’s say you and your date have pre-decided through email to go for a bite to eat at a local eatery and then afterwards, head over to the riverfront for a boat tour of the city.

Date night rolls around and the both of you show up at the restaurant on-time, only to discover there is a 20 minute wait to get seated. Because you made the reservations, you feel irritated and even a little embarrassed. Worse, the delay will likely cause the boat tour planned for later to get nixed.

As a result, you get frustrated and snap at the hostess once a table opens, saying something snarky like, “It’s about time – we were supposed to be eating a long time ago!”

Here is a little secret – being ugly to wait staff and hostesses is a major turnoff on a first date. Second, when you over plan a first date and the fantasy you built up in your mind doesn’t pan out, you come off as a controlling, neurotic mess.  There’s nothing enjoyable or attractive about watching you go through a meltdown.

Solution: Learn to roll with it. It’s OK to sketch out a few activities for your first date. If the stars align, things will work out just fine. Just don’t expect a fairytale. Instead, chillax and let the universe unfold as it was meant to. If you need to, get all Zen about it. You will feel much better during that initial connection and so will your date.

4. Drinking like a fish

This particular point may be debatable but one thing is for sure – if you drink too much, using alcohol as a kind of social lubricant, you are sending your date major signals that you don’t have your stuff together.

Think about it for a moment – have you ever gone out on a first date where someone guzzled down alcohol? Did that turn you on? Uh huh – thought so.drunk-man-prison

I won’t beat this point to death but I will say that if you must have something to drink on that first meet up, do so in moderation. Stay away from the “boozy” drinks too. Here, I am talking about beverages with super high alcohol content, like rums, vodkas and whiskeys.

I can tell you that in private counseling sessions, one of the first things a client will share with me regarding why they didn’t contact someone back after a first date was because the person drank like a fish. This may be hard to hear but like I said earlier in this post, I wasn’t going to sugar coat it.

Solution: Probably the best option here is to skip alcohol on a first date. A half a glass of wine is probably OK but I wouldn’t do more than that. Oh – it goes without saying that if you are operating a vehicle of any type – do not drink!

5. Getting all clingy

This final point may seem obvious but is worth mentioning. Getting all clingy on your date is a major turn off. “Clingy” can manifest itself in a variety of ways both during and/or immediately after a first date.

Here are some examples:

  • Planning for the second date while the first one is still happeninggay couple kissing
  • Texting your first date immediately after being together to gauge their continued interest (aka: I had a great time with you … did you?).
  • Over-touching your first date, pawing them or trying to force a kiss.

There are several more that could be added to this list but you get the basics of what I am talking about here. The bottom line is simple – clingy is never attractive and can scare off a first date faster than bad breath.

Solution: Live in the moment and let things unfold organically. If a kiss is supposed to take place, it will. If the two of you are supposed to hold hands, it will happen. Trust in yourself and just let it happen.

Bonus tip: One thing counselors hear time and again in therapy sessions relates to that “first kiss”. Here is the deal – first kisses really matter. So if you are a dude reading this article, it may help you to check out how to kiss like a man.




First dates can be exciting, fun and exhilarating. They can also be stressful and even a little nerve-wracking. Most of the anxiety however happens because of pressure we place on ourselves. And it is that anxiety that can unintentionally prompt the unattractive behaviors we have explored here which can act as big-time romance killers.

So there you have it – five first date “no no’s” that you want to avoid. When you think about these behaviors, it might be helpful for you to reflect upon your own dating experiences and look for any patterns.

Did any of these points mentioned here resonate with you? If so, you can create change right here and right now. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, move forward with the mindset of lessons learned.

Can you dig it?

Thanks for reading this article on Reaching Life Goals at Psychcentral. I have included a poll at the bottom for you to vote in should the spirit move you.

Also, I’d love to hear some of the things that cause you to not call someone back for a second date!

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First Dates: Are You Scaring them Away?

John D. Moore, PhD

Described as folksy and down to earth, Dr. John Moore infuses current events and pop culture into his posts as a way of communicating wider points on issues related to wellness and goal attainment. His work has been featured in nationally syndicated media, including Cosmo, Men's Fitness and CBS Market Watch. He is a consultant to a number of Fortune 500 companies and institutions of Higher Learning. Dr. Moore is author of Confusing Love with Obsessionand Editor in Chief at: Guy Counseling.

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APA Reference
Moore, J. (2015). First Dates: Are You Scaring them Away?. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Aug 2015
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