10 things NOT to say on a first date

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First dates are stressful, period. You don't want to lie or stretch the truth per se, but you also don't want to send your date running off to hail a cab before you've even ordered the cheese plate. Basically, the goals of a successful first date are to reveal that adorable, endearing part of yourself, learn more about the stranger sitting across from you, and to see if there is any connection between you two crazy kids. Obviously, it's important to be honest, but some of the more intimate parts of you are well, sorta personal, and no one's forcing you to spill all the beans. (Besides, everybody is intrigued by a little mystery and you want to save something for the second and third dates, right?) We don't really believe there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to dating, and despite what movies would have you think, there is no such thing as the "perfect date," so take these with a grain of salt. Still, here's hoping you find a couple of them helpful, and good luck out there.

1. "My ex is crazy."

There's a fine line between love and hate, but both are equally fueled by passion. If someone even mentions their ex on a first date, watch out, you could be entering into a three-way relationship. Brace yourself: drama ahead! Anyway, if you're not over your ex, keep it to yourself. Your date certainly doesn't want to hear about it.

2. "I would like to get married and have kids asap."
Slow. That. Roll. Whether you're a man or a woman, uttering those words automatically puts pressure on an already delicate, stressful meeting, not to mention the fact that it's a foolproof way to scare someone off and fast.

3. "Who are you voting for?"
There's a saying in the south about not bringing up politics or religion in polite company. Plenty of couples don't always share political (or religious) views, and learn to make things work. But when you're trying to make a good first impression, it's probably best to avoid overly emotional topics in order to avoid a sparring match. (Look at it this way, if you become a couple, you'll have plenty of opportunities to fight later!)

4. "Can you pay the check? I'm broke."
Hey, the economy is in the toilet. Of course you're broke. We're all broke. But common courtesy dictates that the person who did the date asking offer to pay the bill. Chances are, if your date has good manners, they'll offer to split it or pay the tip. Let's face it, gone are the days where the guy automatically must pay for dinner or he's a loser. But no matter what the circumstances are, flat out asking your date to pay the bill is a major turn-off.

5. "What's your favorite TV show?"

C'mon, we can do better than that. Asking about hobbies and other interests can lead to great conversation, but the last message you want to convey is that your favorite activity is watching the tube with a tub of ice cream. Save talking about "America's Next Top Model" for the work water cooler or something.

6. "Where did you go to school?"

Believe it or not, many people didn't go to college, and totally resent being put on the spot with this tired old question. And while plenty of grads are happy to wax on and on about their "glory years" or whatever, it's probably better to ask something like, "Have you always lived here?" "How did you choose your career?" or another more general question that might lead you to discussing educational background. Again, it may seem strange, but for all kinds of reasons, a lot of people have negative knee-jerk reactions to this seemingly innocuous question.

7. "Can I take your picture?"
Creepy much? But yeah, I have girlfriends who've been waylaid by this gem. For real. Maybe it's the thought of him showing his buddies your photo and bragging about bagging you, or even the image of him fawning over your pic tacked up on one of those cray-cray serial killer wall collages. Either way, ick.

8. "I'm poly-(fill in the blank)"
There are folks who are polyamorous (def: the desire, practice, or acceptance of having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved); polygamist (def: the practice of marriage to more than one spouse simultaneously); and yes, some are even polyester salesmen (def: dudes who peddle chintzy wares). Right then. Unless you met that person on a "special" site devoted to that kind of stuff, chances are your date won't appreciate your um, open-minded ways.

9. "So I just got out of rehab."
So maybe you have some personal problems you've been working on. Perhaps you've been in therapy since you were 13 years old. Whatever the case may be, it's probably best not to introduce your new romantic interest to your BIG, SCARY ISSUES, at least not yet. Everybody has problems big and small, but the first date is more about showing off your personality, not painting yourself as a psychotic addict (even if you are, just a smidge). Note: If you are seriously in the midst of a personal crisis, and that includes excessive drug use and/or major psychological treatment, not to be all judgey, but you probably shouldn't be on a date right now.

10. "So ya wanna come back to my place?"

Not everyone is old-fashioned about first dates. The right time to sleep with someone is up to you, but numerous informal polls, um, around the office show that when a guy propositions a woman for sex on the first date, she tends to get skeeved, and when a girl does the same, many dudes are likely to file her in the one night stand category. Double standard? Sure. And yes, some couples do have sex on the first date and there is nothing wrong with that. But I think you know what I'm sayin'...