The goal is to be as confident as possible and not fumble through something you think will make you seem less desirable. The true test of “good” dating etiquette is how comfortable you are after an interaction, not whether you feel great going through the motions.
So, get ready to go on some first dates—but if you’re not sure what to expect, here’s what you can expect from the modern dating experience.
1. Remember that dating is all about showing the other person what you think is best about you.
Before we get into some of the specifics of what to do and what not to do, let’s first be clear: dating is all about showing the other person what you think is best about you, not that they’re right about you. Sure, if you’ve had someone say you’re cool and you know that’s true, then don’t doubt yourself. But if you go into a date with no idea of what you think is good about yourself, you may end up making things worse by thinking you don’t know how to make yourself seem good.
“So many people think that the only acceptable goal in dating is to make the other person feel good. Not true,” says Dr. Daniel Guber, a marriage and family therapist with Dr. Phil’s Practice Coaching. “The goal should be to make yourself feel good. And by paying attention to what makes you feel good, you can show them your best self.”
We’re not just talking about your looks—though, hey, that’s a good start. We’re talking about your confidence, your humor, your ability to listen and engage—the skills that make you you. Not only should you focus on what you bring to a relationship, but that’s also why dating apps and sites like Tinder and OkCupid are so controversial. Although many people think they’re good for people who are single, and for those who are looking for a serious relationship, others argue that they’re actually harmful for people who aren’t looking to become romantically involved at the moment. Think of it this way: Your friends can call you and hang out without an expectation that you’re going to be seeing them again soon. But dating requires a certain level of commitment. If you’ve accepted a date without getting to know the person—even if you’ve met in person—you’re making the other person feel that you can’t be what you say you are. That’s not confidence.
There is no single “right” way to approach a dating situation. You’re the boss of you and your time, so you can put yourself in any situation that suits your fancy. For instance, if you want a serious relationship, you might want to wait for a real life first date, a night out with your date, or even a few drinks. If you are, uh, looking to party, you might enjoy hanging out at a club with your date and friends on the way home from a date.
A relationship isn’t for everyone. A good first date can help you see if someone is the right match for you. When considering a potential partner, you should look at it like you’re buying a brand-new used car. Take your time, don’t rush into a decision, and work on the things that make you you.
Finding a Date That Works for You
Finding a date can be a major hassle. Even if you know you’re quite the catch, it’s easy to get caught up in the social pressures of your industry. At work, you might be promoted to a position where you need to set yourself apart from the crowd. As a result, you get involved in activities that you know you’re not going to have any fun at. Suddenly, your weekends seem to consist of endless meetings and social events where you make awkward small talk with the cute guy you met a month ago at a happy hour. If you’re serious about pursuing a relationship and don’t want to find yourself in this position, first-date-wary, take a step back from work and set your own rules.
During your time at work, you may have gotten used to getting a good nights rest, but I’d suggest pulling back on that. A little less sleep makes you feel good at work and you won’t want to hide the signs of a Monday morning hangover from your boss.
As hard as it is to “clock out,” you have to. If you can’t, you’re making the choice to prioritize work over dating—and that’s not what you want.
The most important thing to consider when choosing a date is the date. Is it a bad date? You’ll never know unless you try. There will be a time when you can’t tell if it is a good or bad date. For example, when you meet someone and find yourself agreeing to go to a crowded restaurant where you can’t hear your conversation with your date, you might not realize until