Dating For Dummies
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Dating doesn't have to be nerve-wracking, but it does require preparation. You must do some up-front soul searching to make sure you're ready to be honest, open, and attentive. You need a strong sense of your dating expectations so you can clearly communicate what you're looking for without setting the bar so high that no one can clear it. You must be cautious about how and where you meet potential dates, especially if you're looking online.

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Also, you should remember that a date is just a date — and it can actually be fun! Whether your long-term goal is to get married and start a family or to set sail around the world in a sailboat built for two, you start in the same place: on a first date.

How to ask for a first date

Asking for a first date can be intimidating, but it’s not the end of the world if the answer is no. To better the chances of getting a yes when you ask for a first date, stay flexible, keep things light, and use these tips:

  • Ask for a Wednesday or Thursday night. Never ask for a first date for a Friday or Saturday night (too big as date nights) or Monday (everyone hates Mondays).

  • Offer a specific opportunity (as well as alternative days). If you say, “Would you like to go out sometime?” you leave yourself absolutely no way out if the person says no, and if the answer is yes, you still have to ask the person out.

  • Offer options. Options can include the day, time, activity, and transportation. Options make you sound organized without being rigid.

  • Ask for a first date a week to ten days in advance (but you can break this rule with impunity as the need arises).

  • Go for it when you’re having a good day. You’re cuter when you’re happy, and self-confidence is sexy.

  • Think KISS (Keep It Simple, Sweetie). All you want to do here is send a clear, gentle, but important message: I’d like to spend some time getting to know you better. Are you interested?

Flirting tips for dating

When you’re on a date, flirting is a delightful way to make your date — and you, for that matter — feel irresistible and tingly all over. The point of flirting with your date is interest; that’s why it’s so alluring. Here are some flirting do’s and don’ts:

  • Use your whole body. Lean forward, make eye contact, smile, bend your knees a bit, and relax your hands and arms. Make very, very sure your breath is very, very sweet: no onions, garlic, coffee, or ciggy in the recent past.

  • Make eye contact. Looking someone in the eyes is very alluring. And it makes your date feel like he or she has your undivided attention, which is as it should be.

  • Smile, don’t smirk. Smile openly and sincerely — it’s irresistible.

  • Pay attention. No looking like you’re trying to remember if you fed the cat.

  • Lighten up; don’t bulldoze. Telling your date she or he is incredibly hot isn’t flirting; it’s steering your dating experience directly into a mountain.

  • Focus on your partner, not yourself. Make your date feel as though every word is a pearl of wisdom.

  • Enjoy yourself. Fun is the flirter’s playground. And once you’re having fun, it’s easy to get others to play.

Making safe dating connections online

These days, you’re almost as likely to meet a potential date online as in person. You may use an online dating site such as or eHarmony, or you may connect with friends of friends through Facebook or other social networking sites. There are plenty of positive reasons to look for dates online, but you have to stay safe. Here are some things to remember when you’re part of the online dating pool:

  • Any person you meet online is a stranger. No matter how often you write to each other online, you don’t really begin to know this person until you meet face to face.

  • Some people lie. In online dating profiles, people often fudge the truth about their age and weight, and the discrepancies usually aren’t a huge deal. But some people lie about big stuff, like gender, occupation, and marital status. Again, anyone you meet online is a stranger until you meet face to face and start the process of really getting to know each other.

  • Just as you’d never hand your home phone number and address to a stranger walking down the street, you should never give such personal information to a person you meet online. Save that exchange for after you’ve been on at least a few in-person dates.

  • A blank computer screen is seductive. Beware the temptation to share more than you should, whether on your Facebook page, in an online chat room, or in a tweet stream. The Internet is forever, and you don’t want to face long-term embarrassment for a spur-of-the-moment decision to post a comment or picture that’s risqué or otherwise inappropriate.

  • After you make an online connection, don’t wait more than a week or two before arranging to see each other in person. Any longer than that, and you’re just perpetuating a fantasy and building a false sense of intimacy.

  • The first time you meet each other, make it a public place, and tell someone (a close friend or family member) where you’ll be.

Using technology wisely when you're dating

Our lives are defined by technology, and the dating scene certainly has changed because of it. The Internet, social networking sites, and cell phones are ubiquitous, but you have to use each of them with caution when you’re meeting potential dates and going on dates. Here are some hints:

  • Use common sense when posting information about yourself online. Your home address, photos of yourself when you were drunk and half-dressed, and your sexual fantasies have no place on the Internet. Censor yourself, or you’ll live to regret it.

  • Whether you meet a potential date online or in real life, do not Google that person or search for more information about him or her on social networking sites. If you meet on Facebook, obviously the info he or she has posted in the Facebook profile is fair game. But if you meet at school, don’t assume that you have a license to check out this person’s online profiles. Take the time to get to know your potential date in real life so you don’t make any assumptions based on what’s posted online.

  • Don’t make a potential date your Facebook “friend” just yet. Doing so can create feelings of jealousy and a sense of over-familiarity that can doom a relationship before it starts.

  • Don’t badmouth your exes online. Any potential date can see that information and will feel pretty confident that you’d do the same thing if he or she ever crossed you.

  • If you’re hoping for a relationship, avoid long-distance connections online. If the person you’re chatting with online lives more than 25 miles away from you, the two of you simply can’t see each other often enough to have a stable relationship.

  • Avoid online “shopping.” If you meet someone you’re interested in, give yourself a chance to get to know this person before trolling for more potential dates. The online dating pool is huge, but you’ll never head in the direction of a relationship if you’re constantly checking out who else is available.

  • When you’re on a date, turn off your cell phone. Yes, you read that right! Give your date your complete attention, and don’t you dare sneak in some texting while your date isn’t looking.

  • After a date, don’t text your date repeatedly hoping for confirmation that the date went well. You wouldn’t call this person again and again, would you? (Would you?) Have some confidence in yourself, and give your date some breathing room.

  • Keep your work life and your love life completely separate. That means no dating at work, but it also means leaving your office computer out of your online dating adventures. You don’t want to lose your job while you’re looking for love.

How to date with confidence

Dating doesn’t have to turn your nerves upside down. Learn to manage your stress and make it work for you. To calm yourself and get ready to have a great time on your date, try these stress-busting techniques.

Square breathing

To relax before a date or any other potentially anxiety-ridden experience, try square breathing: Inhale to the count of four, hold to the count of four, exhale to the count of four, and hold for four. With practice, you can increase each side of the “square” to a count of eight or even twenty; the longer the count, the slower and more calming the breathing — just no gasping, please.


To calm yourself and quell any surges of anxiety, try an affirmation. Repeat after me:

  • “I’m a fun, interesting, worthy person.”

  • “I deserve success and happiness.”

  • “A date is only a date — it’s not do-or-die time.”

  • “I’m calm and fearless.”

  • “I will enjoy myself tonight, and my date will, too.”

  • “No one will know or care what happened on this date 500 years from now.”

  • “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” (Helen Keller).

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Dr. Joy Browne, PhD, is not only a dating guru, but also a licensed clinical psychologist who is the award-winning host of her own nationally and internationally syndicated radio talk show.

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