Wise Guys: What's the Biggest First Date Turn-Off?

photo by Philippe Guillaume

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: “What’s the number one turn-off on a first date for a guy?”
anonymous_suitStraight Married Guy (Matt): Bad breath. That would be it for me with the first whiff — any chance of relationship: done. Most other things (obviously outside of racism/being a horrible person/etc.) are probably surmountable.

terence_100Gay Committed Guy (Terence): Just offer to chip in for the dinner, coffee, popcorn, whatever. You don’t have to mean it. You can even be broke. Just treat it as a gesture of courtesy. I swear, I’ll judge you more on this than anything else. Who cares who asked who out? A courtesy offer to pay for something, however small, at some point during the date shows what level of consideration you’ll show in other areas of the relationship — not that I’ve dated recently, of course.

colin_adamo_100Straight Single Guy (Colin Adamo): If you don’t keep an open mind for at least this first date, we probably won’t ask for a second. It’s our fault if we’re the boring ones who don’t ask you to try something new or be a bit spontaneous (and if that’s the case than you should probably ditch us). But if we’re excited to try something, your enthusiasm should match. I don’t mean that you actually have to do anything truly adventurous on the first date; you just have to let us think that you might be open to things in the future. If you’re up for trying a weird dish on the menu, then we’re going to think that next time you might be up for skinny dipping in a pool that we pass, or maybe skydiving one day or even having a threesome with us way down the line. We’ll keep coming back for more to see if you’re still ready for excitement. But if we get the vibe that you’re never up for anything new or exciting we won’t stick around for the snoozefest to come. Keep your mystery about you and don’t tell us everything, but let it be known that everything and anything could happen.

Our “guys” are a rotating group of contributors. Colin Adamo is an undergrad at Yale University where he directs the biennial Sex Week at Yale; Terence is an American living in Sydney; Matt is a little shy. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


  1. Also, a potty mouth. I cut way back on my own swearing when I noticed what an unattractive habit that is in a woman. One mustn’t over-drop the f-bomb.

  2. The biggest turn-off for me on one of the few proper “formal” dates I’ve been on was being told very frankly “I’m just looking for a husband and I want to know if you’re suitable.”

    Actually that wasn’t so bad in itself (I was on the rebound and said I wasn’t interested in marriage but hey, conversation is conversation) but I swear that she didn’t just size me up, she wanted to check my teeth!

    That was kind of a deal killer.

    By the way, Anthony hinted at what I think is an unfortunate hidden dating turn off when he said “If you don’t keep an open mind for at least this first date, we probably won’t ask for a second.” Where by “we” he meant “men.” For all the progress towards gender equality we’ve made in the last 30 years or so I think there’s still a real, serious taboo about women asking men out on first dates.

    I’m not saying it’s a turn-off for men to be asked. The few times I’ve been asked turned out pretty well. I mean, it’s flattering even when you have to graciously decline.

    Instead I think people are just so turned off, or think the other person will be, that women are turned off from asking in the first place. It’s gotta happen though. Women are going to have to learn to ask and just as critically men are going to have to learn to accept or decline with grace.


  3. When it comes to men, guys who tout their financial “success” or brag too much on or around a first date. Let ME decide if I like you, depending on how you treat ME. I don’t care if you have money, or (the worst) please don’t give me a list of what other people have said about how GREAT you are.

    Treat me well, and treat others well, and we’ll probably be OK.

    I’m not crazy about guys who are capable of growing hair and shave it. Looks OK on African American guys, but most white guys can’t pull it off, without looking like a Skin Head. By all means, if you HAVE hair, and a pale head, leave some hair on it.

  4. I am very picky about women and have a long list of turn-offs.

    One of my bigger ones is a noisy woman – the type whose voice can be clearly heard by people sitting a few seats over. I think it shows an unattractive lack of self-awareness. I assume bigmouths (male and female) to be all-around uncouth – the types to see nothing wrong with eating a slice of pizza on the subway, for example.

    I don’t want to go out for drinks with someone who’s too loud BEFORE they’ve had a few.

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