There are certain things you just shouldn't do on a first date, like attend a three-hour self-help seminar, enter a burrito-eating contest or get a tattoo with your date's name on it. Another item to add to the list? Talking about your ex.

As far as dating etiquette goes, chatting about your former flame ranks pretty high on the list of no-nos. In fact, doing so flies in the face of good manners, which, in a nutshell, require you to act in a respectful way toward others so that they, in turn, respect you.

Besides, bringing up the ex on your first outing with someone new is really a no-win situation. If you trash the ex, you end up sounding like a woman scorned -- or just a flat-out jerk. If you wax poetic about the Ghost of Boyfriends Past, you sound like you're still in love with one or more of them. Let's take a closer look.


Scenario One: Disparaging your ex
Say you're on a first date and you see some guy falling off a bar stool. Naturally, it reminds you of your idiot ex-boyfriend who once got so smashed he tried to have a seat at the bar, missed the stool entirely and ended up knocking out his front tooth. You share the story with your date, adding the part about how you had to sit in the ER all night nursing his sorry self, how embarrassing it was to have a toothless boyfriend and how it made it oh-so-clear to you what a loser he was.

Meanwhile, while you're expounding on your unfortunate ex, what's your date doing? Probably thinking, "Whoa, this chick is bitter. And she sounds like kind of a jerk." If you're talking trash about your ex, you're not respecting your date, who likely couldn't care less and would rather be either learning about you or telling you about himself. Or, alternatively, stabbing himself with a fork in the back of the hand. Repeatedly.

Scenario Two: Recalling the salad days of your previous relationship

You're meeting a new dude for coffee and the barista has these incredible green eyes that remind you of your ex. In short, he's a fox. So you stare a beat too long while waiting for your latte, and maybe make some offhand comment about your former flame's amazing eyes or beat-boxing abilities. And ... your date's thinking that you're clearly not over this guy, so why is he wasting his time?

Think of how you'd feel if your date was going on and on about what a "psycho" his ex-girlfriend was or how her shining locks never frizzed in the rain. Who needs it? Instead of prattling on about someone he is no longer in a relationship with, he should be focusing on starting a relationship with you -- and you should be doing the same. Yes, even if your last relationship just ended last week. Be polite and keep your hilarious/sad ex stories to yourself, at least until the new guy knows you're into him and the ex is merely a page in your history.