Dating can be challenging, especially if you’re new to it or have been out of practice for awhile. Online dating introduced an entirely new set of best practices and so-called rules. Plus, old-fashioned dating advice is still floating around, like the three-day rule from Swingers. Dating “mistakes” can vary person to person and differ based on sexual orientation, region, generation, culture, race, and much more. This makes things even trickier for those who are dating outside their usual pool. How can mistakes be avoided for better dates and a higher chance of a good match?
Some mistakes are nearly universal. Focusing on the “don’ts” instead of the “do’s” can be an easy way for daters to go on a date with confidence. Here are some of the top mistakes to avoid, why, and what to do instead.
1. Don’t check your phone.
If possible, put your phone on airplane mode or don’t bring it on the date at all. Leaving it in the car is a great way to avoid temptation, but still having it available for emergencies or if you need to use GPS. Focusing on your date and being at the moment is always attractive. It gives your date the respect they deserve, too.
2. Don’t be late.
Just like a job interview, aim to arrive a few minutes early just in case there’s traffic or issues finding parking. You can always take a walk around the block to help settle your nerves or hang out in a nearby bookstore or coffee shop until it’s time for the date. With proper planning, it’s possible almost never to be late for an appointment (barring rare circumstances, of course). If you are late, call.
3. Don’t start with texting, try a phone call.
Younger generations may have varying opinions about this, but a phone call says that a person is interested, is serious, and is confident. It makes a person stand out, and it can help move a potential relationship forward instead of getting stuck in a texting cycle. Yes, it can be scary, and it’s somewhat unusual these days, but it’s an easy way to stand out from the crowd.
4. Don’t overindulge.
Remember that being in control is attractive when it comes to drinking. Planning a date that revolves around drinking, such as meeting in a bar, can be dangerous. It’s not as easy to get to know someone, and a person may be tempted to over-indulge. Know your body, your limitations, and don’t go overboard. A good rule of thumb is no more than two drinks on any date (one is even safer).
5. Don’t ghost or breadcrumb your date.
Disappearing or randomly popping up to like their Instagram post weeks after a date isn’t doing anything except feeding your ego. Every person deserves better than to be someone’s backup plan. Be honest with yourself, and kindly honest with the other person. Give a person an honest shot, which may require more than one date to gauge. However, when you know it’s not working, be mature and let them down quickly.
6. Don’t stalk them online.
It’s incredibly tempting to Google someone or scours their social media to see what you can dig up. However, there’s no point to this. Anything you’ll discover online will be naturally revealed in dates. It’s unlikely that you’ll discover a person is secretly married, has a criminal record, or other shocking revelation online. It takes the mystery and the fun out of getting to know someone. It’s also very embarrassing when a person gets caught.
7. Don’t date a fixer-upper.
A lot of people have a desire to find a diamond in the rough, a person that could be perfect (in their eyes) with just a little work. Practice empathy. Would you want someone to think that way about you? Instead, accept that everyone has flaws and dating are about finding someone who complements you and matches your core values. “Fixing” someone always ends in disaster—and chances are, there’s probably someone else out there who would love to have them as they are.
8. Don’t double book dates.
Having more than one date a day is technically possible. For instance, a coffee date in the morning and a dinner date in the evening causes little chance for overlap. However, online dating (particularly Tinder) has made it trendy to book dates consecutively or even at the same time. Again, empathy and compassion are key here. Time is the most precious commodity anyone has. Wasting someone else’s is disrespectful.
9. Don’t date if you’re not ready.
How do you know if you’re ready to date? Your gut instinct will tell you. It’s unfair to date people when you’re not ready, either because of not being over a past relationship, struggling with an addiction, being at a highly stressful time in your life, or another scenario.
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We’re often told that following the golden rule is best, and to treat others how we’d like to be treated. However, that’s limiting. Instead, treat other people how they’d like to be treated. Find this out by asking, by reading non-verbal cues, and by actively listening. A date is a chance to get to know another person, but we place a great amount of pressure on it. Instead, be respectful, have fun, and make sure honesty is at the core.