First date advice: the 10 missteps that could cost you a second date

Man and woman on a bad first date

Don’t turn up drunk. Do be respectful. Don’t bad-mouth your ex. Most singles are aware of the typical dating commandments: the first date advice that ensures things run smoothly. But do you know all the rules? Our latest survey asked 1,000 Canadians for their biggest first date deal-breakers – and the answers were quite surprising!¹

After carefully analyzing the results of the survey, we’ve determined the top five first date faux pas for Canadian singles – along with five things you didn’t know were stopping you from scoring a second date! It’s first date advice from the minds of those actually doing the dating.

Five of the biggest first-date deal-breakers

1. Suggesting a ‘fancy’ first date idea

Forget the latest ritzy restaurant. 84% of Canadians surveyed think that the ideal first date is a casual one. That means you’re best off finding a top spot for a get-know-you coffee instead going all out. Stuck for ideas? Try our guide to perfect coffee date.

2. Lying about being a smoker

First date tip: lies are bad and untruths soon rumbled. Still, some lies are more taboo than others and, for Canadians, the absolute worst is lying about smoking habits. 70% see it as a no-no, making it worse than lying about weight (49%), age (48%) or height (18%).

3. Wearing your favourite ‘wacky’ t-shirt

Your bros might giggle at your ‘Game Over’ t-shirt (the one with the stick figures getting married) but, if you want a second date, you’ll leave it at home. So-called ‘funny’ t-shirts are considered the worst thing to wear on a date, putting off 63% of Canadians.

4. Getting too frisky too early

For many single Canadian women, first dates mean that sex is off the menu. Indeed, 51% of women think that sex is a taboo subject for a date (vs just 17% of men). It’s the same story with proposing post-date sex – a no-no for 44% of women and just 6% of men.

5. Being too good of a listener

Typical first date advice says that listening quietly can be attractive.2 However, the survey showed that being too attentive could in fact leave you dateless: 76% of Canadians would rather date someone who talks too much instead of someone who just listens.

Five unexpected first date deal-breakers

1. Taking pictures of your meal

Bad news for fans of the Hefe filter: taking photos of your food is a no-no. In fact, Instagramming your burger or Snapchatting your craft beer is considered so obnoxious that it’s seen as a bigger dinner date deal-breaker than being a bad kisser!

2. Getting out your selfie stick during dinner

In fact, excessive phone time in general is frowned upon (it’s seen as a deal breaker by 45% of Canadian singles). Along with food, mid-date selfies are particuarly egregious – in fact, hated by one-in-four men, selfies are an even bigger first date sin than being late.

3. Wearing a suit and tie

A top bit of first date advice is that Canadians like casual dates – so much so that wearing a suit and tie is deemed as much of a first date fashion faux-pas as turning up in sporty active wear, a cozy fleece and/or a pair of sturdy hiking boots.

4. Donning too much jewelry

It’s not just clothes that are best kept casual! With nearly a third of Canadian men (and one-in five women) deeming elaborate jewelry a deal-breaker, singles wanting to impress on a date should be sparing with the ornate accessories.

5. Adding your date on Facebook

Had a great evening? Want to find your date on Facebook to reminisce? STOP! You should wait before sending that friend request: nearly 20% of Canadian singles would be put off of a second date with someone who immediately added them on social media.

Not tipping: the faux-pas that’s not as bad as you think

There’s one other common first date faux pas that, surprisingly, isn’t as bad as many etiquette experts make out – at least, not if you are dating an English speaker! If you go by common first date advice, not tipping your wait staff seems like the kind of error that only a rookie would make but, in fact, if you are dating an English speaking Canadian it’s a-ok not to tip. Just 2% of singles would frown on it. Of course, if you are dating a francophone, it’s a whole different ballgame – 27% of French speakers think not tipping is a no-no.

How to get out of a bad date

So, how much do these deal-breakers really matter anyway? As it turns out, quite a lot actually. Canadians are not the type to put up with a date that’s rapidly going south: 81% of would be prepared to end a date early over a deal-breaker and 27% have already done so!

The most common way to escape a bad date? For most it’s fairly straight-forward. Indeed, Canadians don’t like the convoluted exit strategies so beloved of romantic movies and sitcoms; rather than a fake illness or phone call, 71% of singles would simply opt for the truth.

EliteSingles psychologist, Salama Marine, has these words of wisdom for anyone needing to leave a date early: ‘’you shouldn’t have to stay on an awkward date for hours with a stranger if you don’t want to. But it is important to choose your words carefully; you need to show your date that you do respect them and consider them an equal, despite not feeling romantically attracted to them. There’s no need to be unnecessarily hurtful or mean; you simply need to explain that you cannot picture yourself romantically with them and that you feel your personalities aren’t matched.’’

Ready to find someone you do match with? Try EliteSingles today! Start by registering here.

EliteSingles editorial, May 2016

If you have any first date advice we might have missed, let us know below or write to us at [email protected]


1 EliteSingles ‘Dating Dealbreakers’ survey 2016. Sample size: 1,000 Canadian men and women.

2 Erin Gloria Ryan, writing for Jezebel, 2014. Men Like Women Best When They Listen. Found at

About the author: Sophie Watson

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