Dating Do’s and Don’ts

The modern dating scene can be a minefield of anxieties and faux pas. When in doubt, it’s usually best to trust your instincts, but here’s a short list disaster-averting do’s and don’ts to remember while navigating the field. Don’t: Over-analyze If he said this, and did that, he must have meant… Don’t even bother. Men and women do not think alike. Literally. The neural networks in male and female brains are fundamentally different. Not to mention the radical differences in communication patterns brought on by social conditioning. You can waste a lot of time trying to decide if he’s really interested or what he’s hiding…and you’ll probably come off a little neurotic in the process. Don’t: Re-hash the past. First of all, the ex marathon is off-limits for first date conversation – and dangerous grounds for the second. It can be hard to avoid, particularly close on the heels of a breakup, but don’t be tempted: ex talk has led to many a first date fatality. As new love drifts into its adolescence, there’s nothing wrong with touching on the past in conversation. The glow of growing intimacy usually makes you want to share, well…everything. But while it’s healthy and often necessary to share where you’re coming from, don’t take it too far. Try to avoid names and most of the gory details. And once you’ve let each other know the essentials, keep any mention of past heartbreaks to an absolute minimum. Not only can you trigger your new guy’s insecurities, but you might be inviting him to judge you through your ex’s eyes. If you think you might have a future, leave the past in the past. Do: Ask… and listen. It can be difficult to avoid launch into self-revealing exposés, especially if he’s barraging you with questions. Most people get even chattier when they’re nervous. But those first few dates are your chance to gather information about him. Asking questions is a good way to get past the awkwardness of social convention and engage the real him. You’ll probably find his answers leading you to questions you wouldn’t have thought to ask. And don’t forget to listen. You’ll probably learn more about him than he knows he’s revealing. Do: Speak up. If he’s half an hour late for the third time running, and it drives you crazy when people don’t show when they say they will, don’t smile and pretend you didn’t notice. And just because he’s serving his famous seafood paella, don’t tell him you love crab when you harbor a violent abhorrence to shellfish. It may seem harmless in the beginning, but concealing your true feelings will catch up to you. If you don’t tell him, he won’t know. And when it comes up again later, he might wonder at your earlier pretense. Be who you are. That will be more interesting than anyone you could pretend to be. Do: Enjoy yourself As maddening as dating can be, between the nerves and the awkwardness, the set-ups and obnoxious dates, try to remember to have fun. At some point you have to stop wondering if he noticed how feeble your last joke was and whether his laugh was goofy or endearing; the world rarely hangs in the balance of one date. Even if you’ve already decided there will be no second, you can still make this one a blast. He might not be your Prince Charming, but he could turn out to be an unexpected friend. Smile. Relax. This is supposed to be fun. Don’t: Give false impressions Exaggerating your accomplishments and making promises you don’t intend to keep doesn’t do anything for you. If the relationship escalates, it’ll only catch up with you. And if it doesn’t, then what have you got to lose by being you?

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