In the new millennium, finding someone to date isn’t nearly as tricky as mastering the art of dating. Between online dating, singles events, and the old-fashioned in-person meet and greet, it’s possible to date someone new on a regular basis. But how do you make the most of these chances to meet your perfect partner? How can you ensure that a first date, good or bad, is a learning experience rather than a missed opportunity? The following are the top five dating don’ts, followed by helpful dating dos:
Don’t: Misrepresent yourself
While online dating is a valuable resource for the savvy single, there are people out there who misrepresent themselves. Don’t be one of them. Just as your online dating profile should accurately represent who you really are, your in-person encounters should be equally authentic. Don’t pretend to be something or someone you’re not in an effort to impress a potential partner. You’re fabulous just as you are and if somebody else can’t see that, it’s his loss. Besides, a relationship founded on lies and/or insincerities will quickly crumble.
Do: Be clear AND realistic about what you want
The most successful daters are those who not only know exactly what they want, but are realistic about themselves and what they’re looking for. Make a list of the qualities and traits you’re looking for in your perfect partner. Then look at that list and ask yourself how realistic it is. For example, is finding someone who makes great money more important than finding someone who lives within his means? Or if you think you want to meet someone who’s highly educated with multiple degrees, is that as important as finding someone with one degree but amazing life experiences that have helped shape and educate him? Make your list, and as you continue dating, tweak it to make it as clear and realistic as possible.
Don’t: Get stuck in a rut
Getting stuck in a dating rut or dry spell doesn’t have to be part of the single gal’s experience. Taking time away from the dating scene to breathe and reboot is one thing (and oh-so-necessary now and then). But getting stuck in a dating rut where you’re either not meeting anyone or only meeting the same type of guy over and over again should be a thing of the past.
Do: Put yourself in target rich environments (often!)
The best way to avoid a dating rut is to get “out there” on a regular basis. And by “out there,” I mean target-rich environments, at least once a week. What’s a target-rich environment? It’s any location where savvy and successful single men can be found in abundance. For the best results, choose a target-rich environment based on your own interests. Don’t think sports bar (unless you’re a diehard sports fan yourself), but instead think bookstore or singles event or museum fundraiser or political rally. Once you’re in your target-rich environment, don’t forget to smile and circulate!
Don’t: Drag excess baggage on dates
Just as you shouldn’t have to date a guy who lugs his emotional baggage wherever he goes, you shouldn’t be That Girl either. Nobody in your present dating life wants or deserves to bear the brunt of your past relationships. Your relationship history — the good, bad, and even the ugly — is just that. History.
Do: Learn your relationship lessons
Instead of obsessing about past relationship failures, look at those experiences as valuable lessons. You can learn from any dating disaster, relationship gone awry, even a bad breakup. These experiences ultimately teach us about our own resilience, what we’re really looking for in a perfect partner and how we can do better next time by applying our lessons learned.
Don’t: Be a critic
Raise your hand if the following scenario sounds familiar: You’re on a date with someone new, and instead of being present and actively getting to know the person seated across from you at the coffeehouse/restaurant/cocktail lounge, you’re stuck in your own head judging your date. He’s too short. He doesn’t drive the right car. I don’t think he makes enough money. Chances are you’ve been there, done that. And if so, you may have walked away from what could have been a great date because your inner critic got the best of you. While you may think your inner critic is merely pointing out relationship red flags, what it’s really doing is sabotaging your ability to get to know someone new, someone who could be a great guy if you gave yourself a chance to get to know him. You owe it to yourself to turn the volume down on your inner critic, pay attention to the person you’re on a date with, and then decide for yourself if you’d like to see him again. By muting your inner critic, you may just discover you’re a better judge of character.
Do: Have fun
In your quest to meet your partner, you may sometimes lose sight of the fact that dating is supposed to be fun. Yes, it takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the process. If you’re feeling particularly stressed about dating, maybe it’s time to take a brief break. Focus your energies elsewhere for a while: on work, a hobby, or just nurturing yourself. When you’re ready, get back out there. But first adopt a more Zen approach to dating. Enjoy getting to know new people without worrying about where it’s leading or if he’s The One. By enjoying your dating journey, you’re all the more likely to attract a healthy and happy partner because you yourself are happy and healthy.
Don’t: Look at being single as a bad thing
Be honest — does being single sometimes feel like a life sentence you’re forced to endure? If so, don’t be surprised if you’re attracting like-minded individuals or not attracting anyone at all. This kind of negative thinking is both dangerous and defeating to your dating efforts. After all, would you want to date someone who hated being single?
Do: Become a successful single
The key to enjoying your social life as a savvy single is to relish in the possibilities. You have yet to meet the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, and that’s fantastic! By being footloose and fancy free, you have the opportunity to meet and date and try on different partners until you find the right fit. While not every person you date is going to be right for you, by playing the field you exponentially increase your chances of meeting that perfect person. By becoming a successful single and enjoying the quality of your life in general, you’re bound to attract like-minded healthy and happy partners — maybe even Mr. Right.