What you need to know before you start dating

I’m not a girl that’s always single, or the girl who is constantly in a relationship. I’m usually somewhere in between, mainly because I like dating a lot. It can be a scary place if you’ve never done the whole dating thing before, but it’s actually pretty fun. As long as you set some ground rules, even dates that don’t turn out to be a true love match can turn into a fun night, or even someone you might just want to be platonic pals with. Here’s what you should know before you set off into the dating world.

Be confident going in. (Or at least fake it)

If you want to kiss your date goodnight, kiss them. If you want to rap to Juicy J as if you knew every word in the car, go for it. Don’t second guess yourself. The secret about dating is that almost no one really, really knows what they’re doing, and so it can put both you and your date at ease by just going for it. Plus, no one can read minds, so it’s much easier to get what you want if you’re upfront about it. Even if you end up making a fool out of yourself, it will turn into a funny story to tell your friends.

Keep the conversation about the other person as much as you

It’s tempting, since you’re the subject you know best, to overwhelm a conversation with stuff about you, particularly if you’re nervous. But don’t forget to stop the stream of thoughts about the new season of Orange is the New Black or your favorite pet to ask about the other person. It shows that you’re actually interested in getting to know them. Plus, it’s no fun to go on a date only to run into someone giving a monologue about all their thoughts without giving you room for a word in edgewise. Just stop every couple minutes and turn the conversation around to them. It’ll take the pressure off, too.

Going on one date doesn’t mean that you have to marry that person

If you keep an open mind, you might be surprised about who you have chemistry with. That’s the glorious thing about dating: It’s really a process for feeling each other out. A couple dates doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily in a relationship, and a goodnight kiss isn’t contractually binding either. If you want to see other people too, then go for it! Just be honest about things. No one likes to feel led on.

Decide who is going to get the check together

The old-fashioned rules about the guy (or the person who asks the other on a date) picking up the tab are just that: old-fashioned and outdated. You can split the check if you feel more comfortable that way, or pick up the check, depending on the circumstances and your financial situation. If your date insists on paying, that’s fine, too: Be gracious about it, but also know that you don’t owe them anything more than a “Thank you” and an offer to pick up the tab next time.

It’s OK to say no 

This sounds really simple, but everyone has been in a situation where they’ve been put on the spot and felt like it was difficult to decline an offer. You don’t have to take every date you’re asked on. It’s good to have an open mind about things, but if you have a bad feeling about someone, or you’re just not up for it, there’s no shame in swiping left, so to speak. Once you’re on a date, it’s still OK to say no: to a kiss or a drink or any other kind of offer. You want to be on a date that you’re excited to say yes to.

On your first blind date, tell you friends where you’re going

Internet dating isn’t a niche thing anymore: It’s just the way that people meet. Most likely, that stranger is just like any other person looking for a date. But you should still keep some basic safety rules in mind. For your first meet-up, have the date in a public place, not, say, at one of your apartments. And let a good friend know where you’re going and when you expect to be back, just so they can check in on you. It’s better to be over cautious than have something bad happen, even if the chances are pretty remote.

Use your dates to try new things

I don’t usually eat at Chili’s or hang out at Starbucks, but weirdly, both those places are where I had some of my most fun dates. With the right person, anything is fun. It’s good to use your date to go out of your comfort zone a little and keep an open mind to another person’s tastes and interests. Maybe you go check out that ice skating rink that just opened, or that cool seafood restaurant you’ve always wanted to try.

Be open to new perspectives

Your date might be from a completely different background and belief system, or disagree with you completely about politics. Rather than using it as an opportunity to pick a fight, try to find some common ground. There are limits to this, of course—if someone is spouting racist or homophobic nonsense, you have every right to speak up or just flat out leave the date—but going into the conversation, try to keep it open-ended.

Tell the truth about yourself

Everyone wants to be the best possible version of themselves on dates, and that’s completely OK. But avoid enhancing yourself too much because you might get stuck in a lie for more than one date. What happens when your new partner comes over and wants to see that Olympic medal for javelin you didn’t actually win? Ummmm….yeah. It’s the oldest advice in the book, but it’s completely true: Be yourself. You don’t want anyone who doesn’t like you for you, anyway.

And oh yeah: Have fun! Dating can be pretty great. Good luck out there!

Samantha Burton grew up in Orlando, FL and studies at the University of Central Florida. She’s a part time nanny and a full time big sister. Follow her on Twitter @SAYUM23

The question that made me totally rethink how I was dating
Why I was so afraid of letting myself have a crush

[Image via Girl Meets World]

Filed Under