Do you know that many people hate dating as much as they do public speaking? Are you one of them? Have you resigned yourself to being single not because you prefer your independence, but rather because you despise dating so much? Have you been out on so many painful first dates that you have given up on the idea of ever meeting someone worthwhile? Do you tell yourself that there are just no good people out there anymore so it’s not worth the effort?
If you are not a dating enthusiast, we feel your pain, but want to change your experience. When you are single, dating is intended to be a weeding out process so it can generally be slightly awkward, but it shouldn’t have to be awful.
While we could go on and on about how the goal is to have wonderfully romantic, lovely dates, we are also well aware that to get to that point requires some basic, get to know you dates first. We think that our simple dating rules will help ensure that even first and only dates are tolerable for everyone. (You should free to share these guidelines with prospective dates before you agree to meet with them; if they find any of them too burdensome, you probably deserve someone better.)
- Hygiene, please!! Shower, brush your hair and teeth and wear clean clothes. Grunge may be a trend but it’s not appealing on a date. While people advise you not to look like you care too much, caring enough to clean up is a must.
- Dress to Impress - not to stun. Your outfit should be appropriate for the date, not what you think shows off all of your curves/muscles/tan/whatever. Nice jeans and a crisp shirt may be perfect for a casual date at the burger joint; a sexy dress cut down to there is probably not. Likewise, a tshirt with a silly saying is probably not cool for a cocktail in a swanky bar no matter how much swagger you have. Show some respect and be aware that looking overdressed can be just as bad as being underdressed.
- What’s your name again? It seems obvious, but when you are corresponding with several people, it is easy to forget exactly who you are meeting. Don’t embarrass yourself or your date; go back to your correspondence and their profile to refresh your memory. Practice saying their name before you arrive so you remember it and know how to pronounce it. Make note of a couple of things that interested you about this person; this will be helpful in breaking the ice or moving the conversation along.
- Be yourself. No one except you expects you to be perfect. If you stumble as you walk in, or laugh awkwardly in greeting, don’t let it hinder you. If you can acknowledge your nervousness, do so. Everyone is somewhat uncomfortable on a first date, we all want everyone to like us whether we admit it or not, but admitting it helps recognize the elephant in the room. It can make things much easier as you laugh together rather than each feeling isolated by the tension. It’s amazing how people relax when joking about who will be the first to knock over the water glass.
- Politics, Religion and Sex. If you aren’t comfortable talking about these subjects even among your friends, you probably shouldn’t bring them up with new dates. However, if these are among your favorite topics of conversation like they are mine, avoiding them is probably not worth the effort for too long. There aren’t many successful relationships that can exist without discussing these matters respectfully, so you might as well get comfortable addressing them respectfully. While you want to show your best self on dates, that includes being your true self and talking about things that matter to you.
- The End? There are very few absolutes here, unfortunately. You have to read the situation and your date to make your own best decision about how to draw a date to an end. It is, however, always acceptable to ask your date if they would like you to walk them to their car. It is also always acceptable to refuse or accept this offer. Some people don’t want new dates to see their car or license plate and this is perfectly reasonable. No one should take offense if a new date is cautious about revealing too much personal information or being put in a vulnerable position such as next to their car with their keys in hand and a virtual stranger with them.
- Goodbyes are such sweet sorrow. Handshakes can seem quite impersonal at the end of a date, but kisses are often too much. You don’t have to make any assumptions; you can use your words. Acknowledging the awkwardness is generally a safe approach. Express your enjoyment of the date and ask if it’s ok to give a hug before you part ways.
- Bonus points. You get extra credit if you don’t have sex with anyone else on the day of the date! It’s surprising how the scent of another person can linger on one, particularly if there has been intimacy. While you may think that a quick shower can fix the problem, you might not want to take a chance that your next date gets a whiff of something that isn’t really sexy anymore. If you are busy enough to have lots of exciting dating opportunities, you should space them out enough to avoid any truly awkward questions.
We have so much more to cover about dating that we can’t do it all at once! Coming next week: Great Date Planning