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Dos and Don'ts for your next date

What turns people off on a date? Here are the top five no-nos, and how to avoid them.

 By Tony Sugiarta

Deal-breaker #1: Poor grooming  

Solution: Dress appropriately for the date

You only have one chance at making a great first impression. According to dating agencies in Singapore, the top and biggest turn-off for both genders is poor grooming. Showing up with unkempt hair or in sweaty, creased shirts is a sign of disinterest, lack of respect and poor time management.

Remember, being overdressed is always better than being underdressed, and always consider the location of the date. Don't show up in flip-flops if you are going to a restaurant, for instance. And of course, be early. If you are late, you are sending signals that you are not giving your date enough priority.

Deal-breaker #2: Awkward silence

Solution: Be engaging and prepare conversation topics in advance

Conversations are meant to be a two-way exchange. Yes, you should be a good listener, however, your date should not feel that he/she is obligated to do all the talking. Respond with follow-up questions and share your own stories.

 No matter how tempting, never pick up your phone in the middle of the dates to check text messages or social media, it’s inconsiderate. When silence falls, the keyword to remember is “FORD” – talk about Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams.

Deal-breaker #3: Making yourself the centre of attention

Solution: Always be considerate

 While many are turned off by dates who cannot hold conversations, equally off-putting are those who are self-absorbed and constantly talk about themselves.

“Be more aware of how the other person would feel,” advised Jazsica Law, from Dating Moments, an SDNTrust accredited agency, when talking about yourself during dates.

First date conversations are like a dance. Go with the flow, give and take, and spice it up with playful tones and self-deprecating humour. Of course, when talking about sensitive topics, such as salary and previous relationships, do not probe if your date is not comfortable to share.

Deal-breaker #4: Showing off 

Solution: Be humble and learn how to compliment your date

First dates can be nerve-wracking and everyone is on high alert. Any insincerity or constant boasting can be sniffed out very quickly. Instead of stressing out trying to come across as the “perfect high-achiever date”, be yourself and enjoy the moment. When talking about your accomplishments, encourage your dates to also share theirs and compliment them at the right moment.

Deal-breaker #5: Thinking that your date is “the one”

Solution: Manage your expectations

Many show up to a date with the wrong frame of mind, thinking it must end with “finding the one”. Do not overthink it and, instead, treat the date as an opportunity to have fun with a new friend. Relax and enjoy each other’s company.

“Some deal-breakers can be altered, some can’t. That’s why we encourage people to get feedback from our coaches to help them move out of their “deal-breakers”’, said Cindy Leong, co-founder and chief dating coach of Divine Connect, on preparing to be a better date.

You may also consider attending a date preparatory course for more practical tips from the experts, or signing up for a personalised development programme to understand your strengths as well as relationship blind spots.