There you are, on a dinner date with the attractive cousin of a friend's friend and you would really like to make as good an impression as possible.
But, you've had one too many to calm your frazzled nerves, and you can feel your inhibitions disappearing. But be careful, be very careful. There are things you can ask that would scuttle the entire evening:
So tell me, how much do you earn? What someone else earns is none of your business. At best, the other person will suspect you of trying to get out of paying your share of the meal. At worst, the other person will suspect that you are looking for a meal ticket for life.
So why is someone like you single? There is no answer to this as it isn't really a compliment. What do you mean? What's wrong with you that I haven't noticed yet, but everyone else has? It merely puts your date on the defensive as the only other answer, namely, "I'm single, because I want to be", puts an end to all hopes for the evening.
Have you ever tried drugs? There is no answer to this that won't cause discomfort. If the answer is yes, you will want to know what, where and with whom. And it's really none of your business. If the answer is no, you may suspect your date of being less than truthful, even if it were true. And anyway, why are you asking the question in the first place?
What do you think of pornography? This is too personal a question at this stage and will put people on the defensive. Worst case scenario is that they will think you are into porn and somehow want to involve them too. This may be a turn-on for the one in hundred date, but it will make people, who are the types you could take home to mother, run fast and furious.
Do little kids drive you nuts, too? Not only may they have gone on this date because they're keen to start a family, the person may already have children of their own from a previous relationship or marriage. Bang go your chances for a second date.
So how big is the place you're living in? Alarm bells will ring, as it sounds as if you are keen to move in as soon as possible. So why is your life so disorganised that you don't have a place of your own? Or do you go on dates, because you're looking for accommodation?
So why didn't your last relationship work? You're making it sound as if it is somehow their fault and you're making the other person feel like failure. And anyway, do you feel like listening to a whole tragic synopsis of their previous effort at a long term relationship? You're out on a date, you're not impersonating the Wailing Wall, remember?
Don't you think online dating is really weird? You don't know enough about this person to know whether they have their profile posted on three different dating sites. You may just have put an end to a possibly enjoyable evening.
Don't you just loathe cats? You may have the regional chairperson of the local chapter of the Friends of the Cat society sitting opposite you. In fact there may be three felines snuggling up to this person every night. And you've just put your foot in your mouth.
Aren't you going to eat that? Eating from someone else's plate is not something one does on a first date. Even if they only got halfway with their chocolate mousse, don't ask if you can finish it. It makes you look greedy and cheap.
Do you usually drink this much? This is a direct criticism and could put a swift end to your date. It makes you sound condemnatory and prescriptive. So, don't comment on someone else's drinking habits, unless you want to put an end to the evening. -
(Susan Erasmus,Health24, updated March 2012)
(Picture: Beach date from Shutterstock)
Any questions? Ask our sexologist