Myth: Dating is something you have to trudge through to get your mate.
Truth: Dating is not a funeral. It is an opportunity. If you are doing it right, you feel good, are taking 50% of the responsibility for a good time, and are enjoying yourself.
Here are 20 tips to finding a partner and keeping them. They range from rules to apply at your very first interaction to rules that will apply in committed relationships. You’ll notice that the “Dos” are at the end because (like with a date) you should never end on a negative note. Bookmark these DON’Ts and DOs and refer to them often.
- Don’t get so stressed out that you make bad decisions. Stress can ruin your dating life, or keep you from having one at all. People under stress have a shorter fuse and little patience and may quickly rule out a potential mate based on instant and inaccurate judgments.
- Don’t be a doormat. You can’t get by with just being a listener. Being nominally entertaining is a must. Also, you simply cannot feel loved if you don’t feel understood and you can’t feel understood unless you are self-revealing.
- Don’t be dazzled by anybody who is so sexy, good-looking, brilliant, powerful, successful, or from such a good family that you think you owe him or her. Parasites come in all forms.
- Don’t expect all attributes to show up right away. Some dates don’t show warmth, a sense of humor, or their best side until you’ve gone out—and then gone out again, and maybe again. If a date is really horrible, don’t give it a second chance. But if not horrible, but just okay, you deserve the opportunity for a second try.
- Don’t travel in packs. It’s much easier to approach someone who is alone. By going everywhere with your herd, you put someone interested in you in the position of having to cut you from your herd. Only the bravest will approach you because if you choose to reject them, there will be an audience.
- Don’t ever be a victim. If someone wants to boss you around, set him free to hunt for other prey.
- Don’t automatically withdraw from someone who seems clingy. If you’re irritated by someone wanting more from you and assuming they are neither creepy nor controlling, try stepping forward and giving more as a test. Sometimes they don’t seem as clingy. What they seem is satisfied.
- Don’t overemphasize physical attractiveness, educational level, income, age, profession, home, dress, or car. When you don’t, you decrease your competition because you aren’t going for the externals that attract the majority of people.
- Don’t succumb to fighting. Fighting happens, but when it happens it should be to find a resolution. Stop the blame game. Skip the accusations and go straight to this phrase: “What shall we do to resolve this now?”
- Don’t kick any of these rules to the curb if you’ve had more than one drink, believe you’ve found your soulmate on the first date, or are known for having inferior boundary control. Generally rules are meant to be broken, but only by people currently operating with good judgment in tact.
- Do understand that gender differences are not character defects. Don’t get into disputes where you’re saying that he should act like a woman or she like a man. That’s why you have girlfriends and guy friends.
- Do realize your hormones are not reliable. They’ve gotten you into trouble in the past, and they can get you into trouble in the future. The sexiest, most attractive single is not necessarily your best choice for a mate.
- Do practice saying no. First to a mirror, then a telephone marketer, then to someone you trust not to leave you, and finally whenever you really mean it. Keep choosing to spend your time with people who help you feel good about yourself.
- Do emphasize sexual and emotional satisfaction, intelligence, shared interests, warmth, sense of humor, communication skills, and temperament. You want to be dating potential mates.
- Do talk to strangers. Strangers get a bad rap, but in most cases (and safe environments), strangers are nice people—and you’re not going to meet your dream mate if you don’t talk to some of them. But guess what? Once you start talking to someone, he/she’s not a stranger anymore.
- Do smile. This is a crucial first step to flirting. I encourage my clients to learn by practicing on small animals and furniture. Add people you know, and then graduate to strangers.
- Do let a date get to know your best side first. Before you start spilling dark secrets, sad stories of your difficult past, or perceived (or real) flaws, let your potential mate find out how wonderful you are.
- Do entertain in your own home on the third or fourth date—if you are comfortable and it’s presentable. If not, entertain at a friend’s or relative’s home. The object is to demonstrate your domestic competence on your own turf. So get dishes out of the sink, and make space available for sitting. Clean it. Repair glaring faults. Put out flowers. Have music playing. Turn off all phones. Give your date your attention.
- Do be fabulous (and don’t just look fabulous). Appearance is just the beginning of what both sexes find attractive in a potential partner. So, be prepared with multiple topics of conversation. Be complimentary, friendly, kind, polite, and culturally literate.
AND THE ALL IMPORTANT NUMBER 10. DO have fun. This isn’t funereal attendance. Having fun sounds like a given, but for many, it is the hardest part of dating. Approach each date as an exciting potential—be it for friendship, love, marriage, or a good laugh down the line. If you go into each date with fear, negativity, and little effort, then not only will you not enjoy yourself, but you could be turning off “The One.” Agree to dates that will be fun for you and then make an effort to enjoy and relax! If one date doesn’t work out, at least you have a little more practice under your belt. And remember: it’s a numbers game so for every bad date, you’re one date closer to finding your mate!