When is it okay to swear in front of your date?

By Katherine

You've matched with someone on the app and now you're messaging. It's all a bit awkward at first, asking those getting-to-know-you questions, but you've got a good feeling. And then... An F-word.

Or you're sitting across the dinner table from your match, out on your first date together in person, and they're telling you a funny story about work, and they're swearing up a storm... When they seemed perfectly respectable in your DMs.

But maybe you're the one who initiates the swears - and your match has suddenly gone quiet or ghosted you.

Listen, if swearing is your second language and you don't care what anyone else thinks, then start effing and blinding up a storm and stop reading this. We're not talking to you. Carry on.

But if you're a little taken aback by someone you don't know bringing all the curse words they know into the chat, or if you're a naturally sweary human and you're wondering if and when it's too soon to drop curses into the conversation, here's some food for thought.

When's the right time?

Swearing can be a bit like hot sauce - it's all about the timing and the context. Using curse words too soon in a conversation might come off as abrasive or disrespectful, especially if you don't know each other very well. It's like pouring hot sauce all over your date's dinner. They might have only wanted a little bit, or they might not like hot sauce at all. Better to stick to hot-saucing your own food.

So, how soon is too soon? It really depends on the vibe you're getting from your date and the setting you're in. If you're meeting for the first time or still in the early stages of getting to know each other, it's probably wise to keep it clean until you gauge each other's comfort levels.

Now, what if your date is the one dropping bombs like a sailor on shore leave, and you're not feeling it? It's totally okay to feel turned off by excessive swearing. Everyone has their own comfort level with language, and if it's not aligning with yours, that's a valid concern. You don't need to remain in a situation you're uncomfortable with, and you are allowed to nope out.

When you're on the receiving end

First, remember that dates - especially first dates - are nerve-wracking events. People get nervous and excited and accidentally let swear words slip out. Give people a bit of grace and wait to see if this is a habitual thing or a one-time nervous tic.

If you feel safe doing so, say to your date, "Hey, I'm not a big fan of strong language - mind keeping it clean for now?" This phrase should only be employed if you're confident your date will take it the right way. If their swearing is aggressive or you feel freaked out, don't bother with this. Just leave.

How your date responds to your feedback will tell you a lot about their personality and how they respect people's boundaries. If they balk, make fun of you, reply with rudeness, tell you you're a prude etc, you probably aren't going to be compatible with them.

Remember that everyone has different backgrounds, education, and comfort levels with language. Your date might not even realize they're swearing excessively. Try to approach the situation with empathy and understanding, unless there's any kind of safety concern. If their swearing is off-putting or scares you, you don't owe them an apology before you bounce.

When you're the Sweary McSwearerson

Like we said above, if cursing is just a part of your personality and you're looking for someone like-minded, maybe this is something you should mention upfront. Your choices are along these lines:

  1. Just drop the swear word into the chat and see what reaction you get.
  2. Say, "Hey, how comfortable are you with foul language? I've realised I swear a lot and I want to watch my language if this bothers you."
  3. Wait for the other person to swear first, and follow their lead.

Any of these are fine, as long as you're prepared for the consequences of each. You might find out the other person has just as filthy a mouth as you do. Or you might learn they think swearing is crass and low-class and a major turn-off. You get to decide how you feel about that and whether you want to pursue something with them - but it's important to respect their boundaries as well as your own.

A lot of people still believe that swearing is a sign of disrespect, and if your date seems uncomfortable, apologize and keep the conversation flowing. Read the situation. A well-placed "Excuse my language, but f***!" can give you a hint as to how the other person perceives swearing - watch their reaction and decide on the appropriate way forward.

What about dirty talk in the bedroom?

This is honestly a whole other topic, because lots of people find swearing in the bedroom to be a total turn-on and part of the titillation of being intimate with someone. If your relationship has reached this point, have a talk to your partner about whether this is okay or not, and whether there are any words or phrases which are off-limits. (The "C word", for example, is a hugely divisive one that you should only ever say if you're 1000% certain it won't go over poorly.)

Read the room

Our best advice, whatever side of the swearing debate you fall on, is this: Read the situation and show some respect. Be true to yourself, communicate openly, and if you're uncomfortable, speak up. Spicy language can be a fun way to feel close to someone - it's a very familiar way of speaking - but it can also be a turn-off in certain circumstances. Choose your words, and when to say them, wisely.

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