The point of dating is to meet new people, enjoy good company, and (hopefully) experience chemistry with someone you really come to like. Dating rules aren't there to hold you back; on the contrary, they're there to steer you in the right direction so that you avoid having to experience the 'never again' and the 'how could I have missed that!?' type of situation. And when you do finally meet someone you like, these rules help you avoid making unnecessary mistakes that keep them from calling you back.
1. Read between their ‘lines’
Being able to differentiate between what your date says is true or false generally comes from using your instincts, though it often helps when you have some previous dating experience to fall back upon. Sometimes people will say anything to get what they want, whether it's to finagle you into buying them dinner, or saying whatever it takes to get in your pants. The trick is to pick up on their red flags (e.g. "I'm in between jobs" - which probably means you'll picking up the tab, every time - or "A woman should never have to pay on a date" – translation, I'm going to squeeze you for all that you're worth) and make a dash for the exit.
2. Use good manners
It's easy to overlook the simple things that contribute significantly to a great impression and good manners are definitely one of them. Here are some things to work on:
- be polite to service people.
- don’t take your date to places where your friends are.
- use good language and avoid swearing.
- don’t interrupt.
- don’t bombard your date with too many questions.
- don’t make assumptions about your date's personality, likes and dislikes, and their intentions during and after the date.
- avoid having double standards, (e.g., for a woman - expecting your date to pay for dinner, then chewing them out for holding the door open).
If you really want to win over your date's approval in the etiquette department, use your knife and fork during a meal, say "please" and "thank you", and reserve more 'colorful' conversations for people you have gotten to know better.
3. Over-sharing is a no-no
You and your date have just enjoyed some great conversation over a lovely meal and have decided to take a leisurely walk through town. All signs seem to point to ‘yes’ as you continue to chatter, casually hold hands while occasionally pointing out your favorite spots. All of sudden, your date launches into an all too full disclosure about their ex. Talk about mood spoiler. (They sound a perfect candidate to read our editorial on Getting over getting dumped.)
The first few dates are about assessing chemistry and compatibility, not telling your life story, gossiping about prior sex-capades, or divulging your entire ex Rolodex: way too much information! Stick to safe topics and, while you're at it, avoid going on a diatribe about controversial topics such as politics, religion or anything else that could ruffle each other’s feathers.
4. Have realistic expectations
Rather than planning your future, sizing up your date as possibly being ‘the one’, stop getting too ahead of yourself. There are many reasons why people are drawn to one another, reasons that you can't fully understand in the beginning. Perhaps this person will introduce you to an amazing group of friends, or an exciting new hobby; or maybe it'll serve as a short term courtship that teaches you some of the most important lessons about yourself and relationships. So cool your jets and enjoy the experience - be yourself, talk about what you love, and have fun! Dating doesn't have to be so serious.
5. Avoid being overzealous
You might want to show a person that you're truly interested in dating them, but don't scare them off by adopting the three prong stalker strategy of perpetual phone calls, leaving too many messages, or showing up unannounced where they work - obsessive anyone? The same goes for flattery; a tactfully delivered compliment can work wonders in the arena of love, but don't overdo it either. It can give the impression that you're insincere - desperate even! There's something to be said for allowing a person enough time and space to come to you, so if you've called and left messages more than twice with no reciprocation from the other party, wait. You want to give them a hook to bite, not run them over with your boat.
After reading our list of do's and don'ts, you may be thinking that you're immune to breaking some or all of the dating rules that we've mentioned. Just don't get too cocky; it's easier to commit these faux pas than you might think. When the day finally comes when you meet the one person who makes you so nervous that you can't even think straight, you'll be glad you have some basic ground rules to fall back upon!