The do’s of the world of relationships and dating

No one ever said dating was easy. First dates are awkward, second dates are expectant and the dates that follow that — during which two people really start getting down to the business of getting to know each other — present hundreds, if not thousands, of opportunities for missteps, faux pas, blunders and mistakes. That is to say nothing of the myriad chances for problems to which you could fall prey while arranging, planning and preparing for dates.

We call too often or not enough, we’re too available or never around, we wear sandals to fancy restaurants, laugh hysterically at bad jokes, show up with blue carnations, gab on our cell phones during dinner and commit countless other dating crimes, mostly without realizing we’re doing it. No doubt about it — bad dating behavior is a rampant affliction, and it’s time to cure it with some common sense advice.

If dating is a game, then just like any other game, there are rules you need to study, learn and follow. After all, you wouldn’t take the field without knowing where the base lines are, would you? (For those of you who are immune to ball field metaphors, the answer is “no.”) While none of these do’s and don’ts are set in stone — and, as your mother told you, there are obviously exceptions to every rule — here we attempt to equip you with an idiot-proof playbook for the fast-paced, intense, exciting, full-contact sport of searching for someone with whom to fall in love.

Dating Rules — Do’s

1. Do try to always look your best and be punctual. Showing up late or looking messy gives the impression that you don’t care — and, if that’s the case, why go out with this person in the first place?

2. Do try to enjoy yourself on dates. Yes, finding your soul mate is serious business, and it can sometimes even be a scary endeavor, but keep in mind that this is supposed to be fun.

3. Do compliment your date on how he or she looks. Men and women tend to put a lot of effort into getting ready for a date, and it’s nice (and flattering) to hear that all that energy paid off.

4. Do be interested and interesting. Ask questions, share insights and pay attention when your date is telling you what they like to do, read, watch, listen to, etc.

5. Do tell someone directly if you’re not interested in seeing them again. Lying and stringing people along simply because you’re too scared to tell them the truth is selfish and hurtful. If you don’t want to go on another date with someone, let them down as gently — but firmly — as possible.

6. Do date only people you’re attracted to, no matter what your friends say. Approval by your peers doesn’t prove a thing.

7. Do stay positive, even when dates don’t end well. It is most certainly true that you will date a few frogs before you find a prince. Along the way, you will probably meet some pretty nice people.

8. Do plan ahead. Dating is a creative diversion that requires concentration and energy, so make arrangements ahead of time and let your date know you put some thought into the evening.

9. Do be proactive about finding people to date. The man or woman you’ve been searching for your whole life is probably not going to come ring your doorbell and beg you to go to dinner anytime soon. Dating requires action, so get out there and meet as many people as you can.

10. Do surround yourself with positive, like-minded people who are dating, too. Part of the fun of dating is celebrating, comparing notes and commiserating with your friends. Surround yourself with positive people who are rooting for you to succeed at love and will be there for you if/when you need emotional support.

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