1. “I thought you’d be _______er.”
Even if you think it’s a compliment. Just don’t.
2. “This is way better than I thought it would be!”
This sort of remark might meet with hearty head-nodding agreement if your companion is also “feeling it” in exactly the same way you are, at exactly the moment you say it. But otherwise, it’s the sort of statement that could dangle awkwardly in the air should the jukebox suddenly cut out. “Oh really? Well just how bad did you think it would be?”
It casts doubt on everyone’s motives for being there, and suggests a certain amount of frivolity on the part of the speaker. “What have I got to lose?” is of course the underlying mantra of everyone who takes a chance on love with a stranger – but let’s not say it out loud.
3. “Oh my god, don’t look now, but…”
Unless a famous celebrity has just walked into the room, there is no way that your date wants to hear the rest of this sentence. I don’t care if it’s your ex-wife’s mother’s secret lover who is cheating on her with your former high school basketball coach – and neither does your date. If you’re genuinely risking an encounter with the boss who thought you went home sick, or something similarly grave, simply say,
“Why don’t we take that table over there? It’s a little drafty by the door.”
Muster up some practical excuse as to why you need to turn the back of your sportcoat to the vengeful part-time model you dated for six weeks after college – the one who’s currently making a beeline for your part of the bar. Do not give the details, no matter how intriguing they may be, or may make you look. Protect yourself and your companion from any awkward encounters, but save the backstory for the speech you make at your engagement party. Your date will find it far funnier in the future.
4. “So why are you still single?”
See #1. Even if you think it’s a compliment.
5. “Do you mind if we split the bill?”
Whoever asks, pays. If that isn’t clearly happening by the time the check comes, just offer to pay – or say nothing and wait. If you’re desperate to escape, here’s what you do: settle your own tab privately with the server. Return to the table and say, “I’ve settled up and I’m going to take off – it was a pleasure meeting you – good night!”
There’s no point in quibbling over petty finances with someone you don’t want to see again. If you do – unless you’re truly interested in finding out right away how good or bad a tipper your companion is – bill-splitting just makes everyone look cheap, feel awkward, and reminds us all how badly our arithmetic skills have deteriorated since elementary school. Even if you’re not a well-off person. It’s a first date. If you can’t afford to pay for both of you (and you suggested the date), you might want to think of a free option next time.