First Date Bingo: 25 Squares and What They Mean

Clear your card and get ready for the first round of dating bingo, the game where you win when you’ve seen it all. If you’ve had one of these things said or done to you on a first date, put a marker on the corresponding square. If you make a bingo line across, well, good for you—you’re probably pretty popular in the dating world.

Learn more about each of the squares—what they mean and what to do about it:

1. Sorry I’m late.
This one might as well be a free space. Sometimes it’s five minutes and others it’s 50. Excuses range from “I missed my bus” to “my dog ate my homework.” If you’ve been on at least a handful of first dates you’ve probably heard this one and maybe even wondered if your date was going to show up. Whether it’s an actual mistake or plain inconsideration, is up to you.

2. Nice to meet you.
The standard greeting in business meetings and on first dates. People usually say it as a positive affirmation, hoping the words will make it true. Just kidding. It’s a perfectly alright way to say hello, although putting your personal spin on it never hurts either.

3. So what do you do?
The job question. In the world of internet dating, you probably have an idea of what each other does, but this question always pops up. Think about it as sort of a formality. First dates have an uncanny similarity to job interviews, so don’t be surprised when your work history becomes a topic of conversation.

4. Where are you from?
Even if you told your date beforehand that you were born in the coffee shop that you’re meeting in, prepare to reanswer in person. This is just standard small talk to get you and your date feeling a bit more comfortable.

5. What do you do for fun?
This is still in the small talk category, but bit more fun because, well, just read the question. This is sort of where the actual “getting to know each other” starts. Passions can say a lot about a person. Prepare for dissertations on everything from ballet to collecting bugs. Yep, this one can be pretty revealing, indeed. Not a bad question to keep in your own back pocket.  

6. Fidgeting.
The leg shake. Finger drumming. No these aren’t the latest millennial dance crazes. These are not so subtle hints that someone is a little nervous. Being nervous is perfectly OK on a first date. If you’re nervous, it’s best to be up front about it. Being straight up about butterflies is not only endearing, but also one of the best ways to cure nervousness. Also, wherever possible: nix the fidgeting.

7. Have you been here before?
Just more small talk. Often there are a few jumpy minutes at the beginning of the date and small talk is a way to pass the time and get comfortable. Or maybe they’ve noticed your friendliness with the bartender and suspect something is up. Pro Tip: Don’t always take your first dates to the same spot. They can tell.

8. How long have you lived here?
Three years. A long time. Two weeks. This one is all about getting to know your backstory. Did you move far away for adventure or did you stay close because of family? This question is an example of small talk that helps to get the conversation started.

9. Awkward silence.
It’s the thing daters dread the most. No, it’s not a myth. Yes, it is uncomfortable for everyone, even the people around you. If this isn’t hard proof of a lack of chemistry, it’s certainly a big bold-colored sign.

10. That’s interesting.
As in, that’s not interesting, but I appreciate you sharing that with me. Alternatively, I don’t really want to expend the energy to respond to that or I wasn’t really listening. Just like the word “interesting” itself, you decide the meaning. Good luck.

11. Nervous giggle.
This one is the friendly younger cousin of the awkward silence. The nervous giggle can be a way to break what would otherwise be an uncomfortable pause or it can be a sign of attraction. A lot of people giggle like this when they’re ready to open up.

12. Well, that was fun.
If someone says this to you, it means that they’re interested in a second date. It went well. This usually leaves it up to you if you want to return the sentiment.

13. Wanna go somewhere quiet?
If someone says this to you, they probably want to get to know you more, um… intimately. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sleeping with someone on the first date. Just make sure you feel safe and into it. The ball is in your court now.

14. Can I walk you home?
Sort of like the last one, this is a subtle/not-so-subtle way of seeing if the other party had a good time and wants to get intimate. Usually the implication here is kissing, so lower stakes here than “somewhere quiet.” The question also has a bit of an old-fashioned romance feel to it. Also note that you can say no to someone you’re attracted to. No shame in communicating to your date that you like them, but things are moving a bit too quickly.

15. We should do this again soon.
Read: Are you interested in going on a second date? If you had a good time yourself, then the obvious answer is yes, let’s do that. If the answer is no, it’s time to get a little honest.

16. Can I kiss you?
A little forward, but it’s good to have consent up front. As above, there is nothing wrong with kissing somebody on the first date, even kissing every first date, so long as you’re comfortable.

17. Eye roll.
Political disagreement? Another joke about their biceps? They don’t like avocado? Uh-oh. Eye rolls are usually a sign not only of disagreement but also of a lack of respect. There is a good chance you’re pretty different if you get this on a first date. Abort, abort, abort.

18. Oh yeah?
Maybe you guys don’t have the same interests or hobbies, but they’re taking an interest. The “oh yeah” is a great way to stay engaged in a first date conversation and let the person know that you’re listening, even if they’re not an expert in the topic of conversation. Active listening is a great sign of someone attentive and respectful.

19. You look great.
A nice compliment, but it usually sexualizes the mood as soon as the words are said. This is probably a signal that the other person is looking to get physical at the end of the date. What you do is totally up to you.

20. Sweating.
First date nervousness is common and often unnoticeable, unless they’re sweating profusely. There’s nothing to be done about nervous sweating, but it’s hard to deny that it’s not the best look. Offer them a napkin?

21. Excuse me, I have to pee.
There are probably better ways to say it, but hey it’s 2018. This can be an actual bathroom break or an excuse to go to the bathroom and give friends a text update on the date. Maybe you should text your friends—I mean pee—too.   

22. Want to come up for a drink?
This is a pretty direct proposition. If you go up for that “drink,” you’re probably not coming down till the morning. Even if you like someone, there’s no harm in saying no to the first invitation. On the other hand, if you’re ready and willing, live your best life.

23. Reaches for gum.
Sometimes this is a self-conscious tick, but usually it means your date is thinking about a kiss. Depending on how you’re feeling about date number one, maybe you should ask for a piece yourself.

24. Sorry, I have to go.
A definite cop out. This is shorthand for “this is really not going well, but I don’t have the courage to say that so bye.” If somebody felt they couldn’t be honest about leaving, you might want to take a moment and figure out what caused their discomfort. Or maybe they really had to go. Probably best not to contact them after this encounter.

25. I’ll see you later
This one usually means: “This was fun, but I don’t think it’s going to work out.” Time to tap out. It’s okay. They probably weren’t right for you anyway. Feel free to stick around the bar after they’ve left for another drink, as needed.

That’s it! If you got bingo then you’ve probably seen the some of the worst of first dates. After all that, you’re still alive and here. You lived to date another day.

Alex Bocknek

Alex Bocknek is the senior editor of The Date Mix and works at Zoosk, the online dating service. He’s also a recovering music critic and an aspiring fiction writer (probably lost) on the way to an independent bookstore near you. He can be found occasionally musing about politics, philosophy, and love in the modern world.

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