Shut Up! 5 Taboo Topics You Shouldn’t Talk About For The First Few Dates

Universal Pictures/Knocked Up

So you’re having trouble getting past the first date, with pretty much everyone you’ve spent time with lately. You can’t figure out what’s going wrong. Do you have bad breath? Is the restaurant you always suggest too expensive? Is your new haircut ugly? Possibly. But maybe you’re not the problem at all. It’s just, well, the things you like to talk about.

As fun as it can be to share that crazy story about getting the stomach flu on your trip to Thailand, or to explain how you can’t believe you ever voted for President Obama, you may not leave your date impressed when you bring up these topics. Yes, you’ll certainly be remembered by them, but probably not in the best of ways. They’ll probably share your stories over drinks with their friends, laughing about what a “weirdo” you were. And no, don’t expect them to text you tomorrow.

Eccentricities that you think are charming and delightful are not super cute to that hot girl sitting in front of you. Not everyone is charmed by your irrational fear of birds, or thinks Irritable Bowel Syndrome is appropriate dinner table conversation. While you’re at it, you may just want to err on the side of caution, and avoid these topics in general (Note: All listed topics have not gone over so well in real life dating situations, just in case you were wondering):

1. Politics

Most of the time, people feel strongly about certain political issues, particularly when it comes to social issues and foreign policy. Unless you know for a fact that your date only reads the news when they’re bored in a doctor’s office waiting room, or they share your precise political position of “fiscally conservative, socially liberal with a hawkish perspective on foreign policy,” it’s better to just skip politics. Politics stir up strong emotions, as most well-informed people already have their stance on major issues like abortion, immigration, and war, and your beliefs are not going to change their mind. If you try to discuss it, you may put the other person on the defensive.

Politics are something to discuss down the line, lest they keep you from giving a great person a shot at a second date. So wait until you’ve realized that you actually like and respect one another as people. Then you can decide that you simply “cannot date someone who actually liked Bill Clinton.”

2. Religion

People are religious about religion. Prolific, right? The reality is, many people are either raised with a religion and have cherished it for years, are raised with a religion and absolutely hate it, or were raised with no religion at all and don’t believe in it. Like politics, a lot of people have strong feelings about it. A lot don’t, which will make it an easier topic of conversation down the road.

But religion is not the best material for the initial stages of dating. Of course it’s important that your religious values align somewhat, or at least don’t conflict. Still, the subject is deeply personal to some, deeply upsetting to others, and it could definitely put you and/or your date on the defensive (again). Religion is serious stuff. It’s one thing to simply say, “I was raised Catholic,” “I don’t go to church,” or “I’m Jewish and going to Israel for a Birth Right trip.” It’s a whole other thing to discuss the intricacies of your upbringing in the church, or the extent to which you don’t believe in God. Unless of course you met at church and know that you have common ground on the subject, in which case, you’re probably fine.

3. Bodily Functions

Don’t tell her you just farted. No, really, she won’t think it’s funny. She’ll just be afraid that she’s going to smell it. Ideally, you won’t fart, burp, or anything else at dinner. But men in particular seem willing to talk about bodily functions pretty casually, especially compared with women.

Unfortunately, unless she’s your best friend who you’ve known for years, she probably doesn’t want to think of you that way just yet. Sure, we all do these things, but it doesn’t mean we can’t pretend that the person we’re with isn’t a little smelly and a little gross sometimes. It’s nice to sustain that illusion for as long as possible, and see someone in the best, most unrealistic light possible while we still can.

4. Creepy Sexual Comments

Even if you think it’s not creepy, it probably is coming across that way. Saying anything sexual, unless you’re dating just to hook up, is most likely not going to go over well, especially with the ladies. In addition to making you sound like you’re coming on way too strong, it also breaks down any level of romanticism. It’s fun to have a little mystery in the beginning, and wonder what the other person is thinking. Sexual comments make it pretty clear what you want from the get-go. And while it’s nice to know that the person you’re with is attracted to you, it’s also great to see that they’re interested in your wit, charm, and remarkable intelligence.

5. Illnesses

Sure, you need to explain that you can’t eat the cheese plate he wants because you’re lactose intolerant. But let’s not get into the fact that when you do eat cheese, you need to spend an hour in the bathroom afterwards. It’s neither ladylike, nor sexy to explain that you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome; it just makes him picture you, well, you get it. Part of building up the mystery and romanticism when you’re getting to know someone is keeping some yucky stuff out of the conversation. It makes that initial attraction so much more powerful and exciting.

The overarching theme here is pretty clear. It’s all about building up an image of yourself that shows who you are, without getting into the nitty-gritty stuff. By forging a connection over shared hobbies, favorite TV shows, and similar upbringings and goals, you can come up with fun things to see, talk about, and do together. Then, as you get to know each other for the great people you are, you can explain that you can’t get a cat together because you’re, well, scared of them. And maybe you’ll already like each other so much that it just won’t matter.