Your eyes met across the room, or, your online dating profiles just "clicked." Whatever the circumstances, you saw potential, he asked you out, and now you're ready for that butterflies-in-your-tummy first date.
So what happens when you're both sitting across the table from one another and the conversation turns personal? Most of us know to stay away from controversial topics like politics and religion, but what is fair game for two people attempting to get to know each other? If you hope to turn him from first date to soul mate, here are five questions that you should never ask.
1. Asking about "The Ex."
This one often slips out in storytelling when dishing about holiday memories, bad dates, or old college tales. "Try to keep it in check as much as possible," says Hilary Rushford, founder of gentlemen's branding blog dapper & the duchess. "You don't want to sound hung up on someone else. Even just the idea of the last person you were crazy about can be a bit of a buzz-kill." Same goes with asking your date why his last relationship failed, or why he's "still" single.
2. Your place or mine?
Curiosity is the quickest way to kill the connection—especially when it comes to nosing into your date's sex life. According to Coach Steph, a renowned "love expert," sexual advances—even in the form of a question—can be considered disrespectful and even obscene.
"A first date is an opportunity to get to know the person in front of you, and that person will feel a bit violated if the conversation fast-forwards from your favorite food to your favorite position," she says. Rushford agrees. "It's just uncouth. Unless your aim is to have sex that night, keep the flirting lighthearted, and save the number of partners and ‘how old were you when' questions for when the time is right."
3. How much money do you make?
Money talk speaks volumes, and is a surefire way to scare him away. "Men don't dig a girl that's a gold digger" says ‘relationshipologist' Lindsay Kriger, "and asking about his finances implies that."
"Talking about the current state of the nation or world economy is fine and certainly timely right now. But talking about personal financial situations is off limits until an exclusive relationship is established," says Carol Brody Fleet, author of Widows Wear Stilettos (New Horizon Press, 2009).
4. Where do you think this relationship is going?
If you just met and you're already talking marriage, you're moving too fast. Even if you think he could be The One, "you still need to dangle the carrot," says lifestyle expert Samantha Goldberg. Kriger agrees. "Men like to hunt so don't be a dead deer."
According to celebrity dating and relationship coach David Wygant, if you're fantasizing about happily ever after and the pitter patter of little feet, keep it to yourself—for now. "Never ask him how many kids he wants on the first date. You might as well buy the minivan now and move to the big house in the suburbs yourself—he'll think you're only looking for a sperm donor," Wygant says.
5. Is that a hairpiece?
Talk about a loaded question. The connotation alone can be insulting to your date, even if you meant it in a nice way. But Coach Steph says talks about looks are off-limits altogether.
"Telling him he's ‘so cute' or ‘has the greatest eyes' is not only annoying, but it makes him uncomfortable. He will smile, and he will be polite, but he will not go out with you again," she says.
Just like commenting on his looks is off-limits, don't ask him to talk about yours, either. "Asking him ‘do you find me attractive, pretty, or interesting,' or anything that screams ‘I'm insecure and I need validation' will scare him away fast. Of course he thinks you're great, he did ask you out on a date!" says dating expert and author Marina Sbrochi.
Final note: He's not your therapist.
While this is not a question per se, our experts had a bit of advice beyond the initial conversation starters. You may get comfortable with him and feel like you can share anything over the course of that first date, but Rushford advises, leave your baggage at the door.
"Everyone has issues, but try not to lead with what a hot mess you are right out of the starting gate. Remember, this person doesn't know you and you want to make sure you're sharing much more of the best parts of you than the bumps we all inevitably have."
Try to focus on the positives in your life, and not rant about what annoys you—your horrible day, your awful co-workers, or your evil boss. "This doesn't make you cuter or more compelling," Rushford says. "Instead, focus on what lights you up, brings you joy, and gets you excited." And someday, that just might be him.