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Dr. Pepper Schwartz

First date? How to make a good first impression

There is research on how long you get to make a good impression. I can’t remember the exact study but I remember that the punch line was that it was super brief- say twenty seconds.

People size each other up almost immediately and it’s harder to change a bad impression than it is to reinforce a good one. Here are a short lists of things you should never do (this list will also help you in job interviews!).


  1. Talk about your ex.
  2. Dish ANYONE.
  3. Talk excessively about your children.
  4. Talk about your health.
  5. Complain or brag about money.
  6. Forget to listen to the other person.
  7. Tell all about yourself on the first introduction.
  8. Talk about your hardships and worries.
  9. Say anything that would make you look desperate (as in, “I’ve been single for ten years and I’ve just about given up hope of finding someone to love…”).
  10. Be angry - about anything.

In other words, stay positive, happy, and in the present. Save the downers for some other time and place when they are absolutely necessary to share.

You do not owe anyone information about your thyroid cancer or your child’s learning disability or for that matter you financial woes. All of these are appropriate to talk about in an intimate relationship, but the beginning of dating someone is not an intimate relationship, it is an audition. You need to have them experience your good stuff, and then, if you both want to get closer, you can give them some of your back stage information. But even then, don’t overload someone. If you have difficult issues to share, make sure they come after a person has already made an emotional investment in you—and vice versa. Of course the “right time” is not always easy to pick- but I am positive it is not the right time in the first two or three dates!

What are your first date "don'ts"?


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