By Nara Schoenberg, Tribune Newspapers
January 31, 2012
One first date ended when he got so drunk he went in for a kiss and knocked her off her bar stool. After she regained consciousness, he skipped out on the bill — only to reappear in the parking lot, begging forgiveness: "Don't blame me! Blame the Prozac!"
Another romantic evening came to a memorable close after a man accused his date, a swimsuit model, of loose morals. He did this very loudly, at a nice restaurant, while offering his date's sexual services to anyone in hearing distance.
The view isn't pretty from the perch of Victoria Namkung, co-founder of My Very Worst Date (myveryworstdate.com), but it sure is educational. Namkung, whose site has chronicled more than 700 dates ranging from the unpleasant to the horrific, knows more than anyone should have to about what can go wrong when two people meet for drinks or a walk in the park.
So we asked her for her top real-life, straight-from-the-trenches dating don'ts.
Hold the booze: "The No. 1 thing I see on these dates is that whether it's the guy or the girl, somebody's getting way too drunk," Namkung says. "People, three to four drinks is not a good idea! We've seen everything from somebody literally falling off a bar stool and ending up in the hospital on a first date to a girl falling down an entire flight of stairs."
Give yourself a two-drink maximum, Namkung advises, and stick to it.
Short-lived lies: Lying is not a new dating problem, but the Internet has opened vast new opportunities for dishonesty, including (for men) a chance to lie about your height or post a photo that suggests you have significantly more hair than you do. Women, Namkung says, are more likely to lie about their weight or post outdated photos of themselves.
Among the flaws in these strategies: You'll eventually be found out, and your date is likely to be disappointed, annoyed, indignant or all of the above.
"I understand it's tough out there, but I always believe there's someone for everyone, and being yourself is probably the best bet," says Namkung.
Conversation 101: Too many bad dates involve people revealing way too much about themselves: their previous relationships, their personal history, their politics, Namkung says.
Tracey Steinberg, a dating coach from New York, adds that it's bad form to talk about your anti-anxiety meds.
"I think everyone should be able to keep their craziness under control for the first few dates," Steinberg says.
This is a time for light, fun banter. Tonya Reiman, author of "The Body Language of Dating" (Gallery Books), suggests having four or five topics ready, from news stories to personal anecdotes, and using them when conversation lags.
Neutral ground: On a similarly practical note, Namkung advises women not to go to a man's house on a first date. She's surprised how often this seems to happen, and at how surprised women are when the men assume they want to have sex.
Money matters: Finally, cheapness is a contributing factor in many bad dates. One Romeo on My Very Worst Date wouldn't even buy his date a hot dog in the park.
"To me, that's not OK," Namkung says. "Regardless of the recession. If you can't afford a $2 hot dog, you shouldn't be dating."
Namkung, who lives in Los Angeles and prefers to split dating costs 50-50 with her fiance, says that even for egalitarian singles, the old rules tend to apply on the first date: "If a man asks, he pays."
The man needn't pay a lot, and he shouldn't spring for anything he can't comfortably afford. Bike riding is a great first-date activity, as is going to a museum, Namkung says. Splitting the Starbucks bill, on the other hand, is not.
"Nothing is a bigger turnoff than being forced to pay for your own cup of coffee," she says.
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