man and woman on date outside
man and woman on date outside© Photo: - Yuri A / Shutterstock

Afriend of mine almost canceled a date with a guy because she woke up with a zit. She came over to my apartment freaking out: “How big is it? Is it all you can see when you look at me? Should I make up an excuse to cancel?”

If you’re like many women who follow dating advice, the number one thing you focus on before a date is what you look like. What should I wear? Should I have my hair up? Down? Half up? Would wearing heels be sexy or look too high maintenance?

But all that effort may be best spent elsewhere, because, more than likely, what you look like isn’t going to be the "make it or break it" factor of whether or not a guy likes you.

Think about it: if he was attracted enough to be going on a date with you in the first place, it’s not your looks that are in question as he’s getting to know you. And part of learning how to get a guy to like you is understanding that!

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Instead, on your first few dates he’s thinking: Do we have things to talk about? Do I enjoy spending time with her? Do I think she’s intelligent? Does she seem cool? Would she fit into my life?

He’s probably not thinking, “Oh... she was just a little hotter last time I saw her.” Hard to believe, but it’s the truth. 

How do I know? Because I traveled around the country and interviewed over 1,000 guys about sex, love, and dating for my book Are All Guys A**holes?

Here is what they said when I asked them: “What things turn you off on a date?” 

  • 34 percent bad conversation
  • 16 percent bad manners
  • 35 percent bad personality/attitude
  • 14 percent other

The things you talk about on a date are a guy’s chance to get to know who you are.

So it’s not all that surprising that bad conversation was one of the top complaints guys listed.

Bad conversation includes girls who talk too little, or too much, only talk about themselves, or divulge way too much. (Usually, what guys considered “too much” was talking about ex-boyfriends, ex-hookups, or your deepest emotional drama.)

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Guys also didn’t enjoy talking to a girl who seemed to have no sense of what was going on in the world and could only talk about superficial things (i.e., celebrity gossip). All in all, they wanted the date conversation to flow like a “tennis match” with both parties contributing, and asking about each other.

When we think about guys, we tend to conjure up images of beer-guzzling, burping, farting, or a whole host of other “uncivilized” traits. So it might surprise you to see “bad manners” on a list of dating turn-offs.

But they’re not talking about using the wrong fork, putting your elbows on the table, or using the word “sucks.” The bad manners that turn guys off include being rude to the wait staff, checking your phone, just expecting a guy to pay, and not saying thank you when he does.

Although the definition of a “bad personality or attitude” will vary from one guy to another, many guys complained about girls who were braggy, materialistic, had no sense of humor, or seemed dumb.

The “other” category included getting too drunk, smoking, and general incompatibilities. Some guys in this category mentioned physical things, but what may be surprising is that those physical things almost always had to do with your mouth.

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Bad breath, dirty teeth, and chewing with your mouth open were all things that turned guys off! Ironically, with all the time that we may spend getting ready for a date, probably the best investment is a good toothbrush and some mouthwash.

When a guy takes you out on a date, he’s looking for the full package! He already knows what you look like. (Even if it’s a blind date, there was likely some pre-meet-up Facebook stalking.)

Sure, you want to look nice, but don’t be overly stressed about it. Maybe you’re not having a good hair day, but don’t let that ruin your mood on the date, because it’s your mood that a guy is going to be paying attention to. What you look like on a date just isn’t as important as you might imagine! 

Knowing this, when my friend tried to cancel her date because of a zit, I told her she was ridiculous, and that the act of canceling would do way more to turn him off than a blemish on her face. And besides, the zit wasn’t actually that big, and restaurants are dark.

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Amber Madison is a co-founder of Peoplism. Her thought leadership has been featured everywhere from The Today Show to MTV to NPR as well as in Fast Company, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and many more.

This article originally appeared on YourTango