By Sam Greenspan

There’s a fine line between thinking of innovative ideas for dates and ending up with disastrous thoughts for dates.  About five years ago, I happened to see that a circus from Mexico was here in Los Angeles.  I had a first date that night and took the girl to that circus, even though neither of us spoke Spanish.  I thought it was brilliant and would help us bond.  She got an “emergency call” from her “grandma” who had suddenly come down with “dying” and left after 45 minutes.  That’s a date backfire on a grandiose scale.

In my semi-bestselling book 11 Points Guide to Hooking Up, I have a list of 11 Dates That Will Brutally Backfire.  Because I blew through 25 percent of my allotted words for this guest post with that circus anecdote, I will only be able to relay abbreviated snippets of five of them:

1. Comedy club: Because somehow, every comedian on the planet has a built-in radar for a nervous couple on a first date.  It must be a side effect of cheap beer and mild depression.  Anyway, he’ll joke you guys right into never seeing each other again.

2. Massages: The problem is, a good masseuse takes you to a place in a different realm than sex.  Afterward, you and your date won’t want to be physical with each other — it’ll just ruin how good your neck and shoulders feel.

3. Your friend’s party: You know everyone there.  Your date doesn’t.  It’ll be hard to get to know each other while you talk to your friends and he or she just kinda awkwardly hangs at your side like you’re Tom Hanks and he or she is Rita Wilson.

4. Errands: Twice in my life (with about 10 years’ separation in between), a girl ran errands while we were ostensibly on a date.  And all I could think of both times was, “You think our date’s going so poorly that errands are going to liven it up?”  Especially the time the girl diverted us to a post office so she could mail her taxes.  In January.  She wasn’t in that much of a rush.

5. An overnight trip: Save the overnight trips for when you actually know each other.  There’s nothing worse than realizing 20 minutes into a two-day trip that you really don’t like each other.  (Other than realizing it 20 minutes into a two-year relationship, like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.)

Sam Greenspan is the founder of the website 11Points.com (because top 10 lists are for cowards).  His first book, the 11 Points Guide to Hooking Up, just came out in June.