Thursday, January 6, 2011

What NOT To Ask On a First Date

Once upon ages ago, I signed up for my 3 month free trial at eHarmony, then proceeded to never do anything with it. But the great thing about eHarmony is that they will always be there for you. Always. Always. Once they have your email address, you have a friend for life.

While I have no need of their services, it is at this point easier to just delete their emails than to convince them not to send any more. And once in a while, they actually send something with a subject line that catches my eye, an email that I read and feel I have gained something from the reading experience. Yesterday, I received one of those. The subject line was:

“5 Things it’s NOT Okay to Ask”

Well, could I resist reading that? Of course not. So read it I did, and it turned out to be an article listing 5 things you should not ask on the first date if you have any interest at all in a second date.

Articles of this type are like warning labels; they do not come into being until after someone has already done the stupid thing against which we are being cautioned. It was with this in mind that I read the article, the knowledge that enough people have asked these 5 questions on enough first dates and been met with enough resounding date failure that someone finally felt intervention was necessary. The 5 Questions are as follows:

1 - “So what’s your marriage timeline?” Yes, I agree, a bit pushy for a first date.

2 - “How old are you?” I disagree, I think this is acceptable ‘getting to know you’ material, but that is just one woman’s opinion and that woman doesn’t work for eHarmony and get paid to write these articles.

3 - “What are you into in the bedroom?” Hmm... yeah, save that one for the second date.

5 - “Where have you been all my life?” I wasn’t aware that people actually said this in real life, but apparently they do. And on the first date. To me this seems like the verbal equivalent of holding a knife to your date’s throat and screaming “YOU MUST LIKE ME NOW!” There just is no right answer, and I was on the verge of agreeing with eHarmony’s advice to not ask this when dear Liz added the following, redefining what this question may really be asking:

"... No really, why haven't I ever run into you, are you an assassin? Is this a trick? ANSWER ME, ASSHOLE!”

She may be right, and if you even suspect that she is, I would recommend asking this question as early in the evening as possible, preferably before you get into a car with your date.

Now, you may be wondering why I skipped Question 4. I did so because I wanted to save the best for last. I wanted to clear the stage of all the other players and shine the spotlight directly on what I consider to be the real star of this article.

According to eHarmony, it is not considered the done thing to ask your companion on the first date:

4 - “Can I borrow $1000?”

What? The hell you say! Really? It’s not appropriate to ask a relative stranger for a large sum of money at a first meeting? Well, that’s disappointing...

eHarmony really believed this needed to be put in writing. They limited this article to 5 questions that shouldn’t be asked on a first date, and they felt this needed to be one of them. That people needed to be told this. And I have difficulty believing they were running out of things to say and pulled a question out of someone’s left sock because “4 Things it’s NOT Okay to Ask” just didn’t have the same ring to it. They had reason to think that people needed to see this in print. And the reason that first comes to my mind is the warning label theory; people actually did this so often that someone finally had to say “Okay, enough.”

So, if you or anyone you know has ever asked this question on a first date and wondered why the answer you received sounded suspiciously like the tires of your date’s car squealing as they exited the parking lot at what some might consider an unreasonable speed, well, there you have it. This is just NOT OKAY. Remember how NOT OKAY this is next time you are sitting across the table from someone you might want to keep in your life for longer than ten minutes. If you really find yourself at a loss for words, go with the lesser of two evils and ask where that person has been all your life.

(Oh, and in this same email, amidst all the tips, tools and techniques for building and maintaining a healthy relationship, was the link to enter eHarmony’s “What Happens in Vegas” Sweepstakes. So, if you slip up and suddenly find yourself with some free time and needing a way to make a quick $1000, fear not, they’ve got you covered.)

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