Ever wanted a dating manual? A catalogue of dos and donts? I don’t claim to be a dating expert (just look at my shambles of a love life to see that!) but I do have some advice- however flippantly you take it. He is MY A-Z of dating tips, make of it what you will and please let me know what you would add/omit! Happy dating folks!
A– advice. Take your friends’ dating advice with a pinch of salt! Have you ever noticed how the people in your friendship group who always seem to be dishing out the dating advice (mostly advice you haven’t even asked for) are actually the very people whose love lives are in chaos. Maybe that’s just my friendship group, but the irony was never lost on me. Friends are biased towards you. They love you, care for you, but might have their own agenda. BE WARY. All single girlfriends hate being ditched the minute a man appears in your life- although friendly and seemingly helpful, genuine advice might not be given with just your interests in mind. Here are some dating gems I’m sure you’ve heard friends say time and time again; “you can do better,” “never settle,” “you should ask him out.” This is unhelpful though- we need to stop being told that we can do better because nobody is perfect. Friends encourage us to set impossibly high standards but in the long-run this will end in tears. It may boost our egos temporarily but this dangerous advice could stop us from finding love or, when we do inevitably “settle” it might be with an unnecessarily heavy heart. In all honesty it’s likely that when we can do better, we know we can already. It’s likely we know if we are “settling” without the interference of a seemingly concerned friend. As for asking him out- if he’s shy or timid then go for it- but otherwise if he isn’t initiating then he probably isn’t interested. (OUCH! I know the truth hurts but this is the stuff friends probably won’t tell us!) if you put it on a plate for him he’ll probably Carpe Diem the hell out of it, if only to get laid…it doesn’t mean you’ll bag a boyfriend! [This sounds so cynical I know, I don’t mean it to- we shouldn’t settle for just anybody and sometimes it’s good to take the bull by the horns and ask a guy out] Just be wary of your girlfriends’ advice and confide in a few friends who you know will be honest with you. Also, trust your intuition!
B– be yourself. I know you hear it all the time- but do it. If you don’t feel comfortable in heels, discussing current affairs or eating seafood then go in your best pumps, change the topic of conversation and suggest you dine somewhere that suits you too. You don’t want your man falling for fake you because you can’t keep it up in a relationship- be real and be yourself.
C– candy crush free zone. Infact, generally a mobile free zone. Your date is awful? You’re bored? You want to update your friends? Don’t! No matter how awkward, boring or lacking in chemistry the date is- don’t be rude! I hate dining at restaurants and seeing couples in silence on their phones. I hate even being out with friends when they can’t truly let themselves go over a meal and instead have to check their twitter feeds or text some random person. ENGAGE, CHAT, EAT…texting doesn’t feature…and if you really need to take a call or send that text then take a trip to the loo…
D– drink responsibly. Nobody likes having to nurse a drunk. Especially your date. It’s unsafe, unattractive and inappropriate. If he’s lucky enough to make it to a second, third, fourth date…and a full blown relationship then he can see the drunken you…he can also hold your hair back and supply you with water as and when you need it! What else are boyfriends good for?
E– expectations- have NONE. A few whatsapp exchanges or even a phonecall isn’t indicative of chemistry. You might meet and have zero spark, expect nothing. Some first dates you will go on and be disappointed by- dream date may have been better (often the case from my experience!) than the real deal! He might have seemed wittier and kinder via text, perhaps his photos were taken very cleverly or back when he was a younger, thinner version of himself. Or maybe it was the guy you disregarded and dismissed- agreed to date on a whim and actually realised that there was something there…. Expectation leads to disappointment, no expectation could lead to more! Think of a first date as an audition, if it doesn’t work out? Hey ho, maybe you got a free meal or drink out of it, you certainly gained some dating experience and I’m sure it was preferable to that ready meal for one you have waiting at home!
F– fashionably late. Always. Nobody wants to be the girl sitting alone waiting nervously for the date. Maybe spend a few extra minutes in the car, let yourself toy with differing shades of lipstick before you leave- make him wait. If you agreed 7pm, for you it was 7.10. Obviously, don’t take the piss and be ridiculously late and maybe bad traffic or something will make him later than you- but fashionably late, is always the way forward ladies!
G– google! Always have a cheeky online search for your date. Check out what he does, see his online profile and have a cheeky stalk of any Facebook pictures he may have. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you this as it’s human nature- we’re curious creatures! It does serve a practical purpose though (I’m not even fully convincing myself here!!) as the more photos you see, the more likely you are to spot him in a crowded bar, finding a shared interest on his social media might give you something to talk about and ofcourse you could discover that he is a mass-murderer and therefore cancel the date and thus save your life!! I’m kidding- sort of…
H– haste: avoid it! Don’t push your man into a relationship he doesn’t want! The first few dates (although awkward and sometimes uncomfortable) can be one of the most beautiful parts of a relationship as you develop feelings for one another and get to know each other. Do not rush it. Let it play out naturally and it it fizzles out then let it. If it doesn’t- trust me the wait will be worth it!
I– informed- make sure somebody, anybody knows where you are. It’s a shame that I’m even having to include this: but girls do get their drinks spiked, boys can get carried away and sometimes things can go wrong. This tip is so important when it comes to meeting men online. You might just need your friend and if she knows where you are it can save you from an otherwise dangerous situation. You can never be too careful: it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, you need to update your friend so you can fill her in on all the juicy gossip after (BEST bit of the date if you ask me!!)
J– judgmental? BIN IT. Nobody is perfect- quit nitpicking. So what if he’s a little tubbier around the waist than you wanted? Who cares that he doesn’t earn as much as your last boyfriend? Or that he has dreadful taste in footwear? I’m sure there are things he isn’t too fond of about you. It’s time to throw away our judgmental attitudes. Women notice everything and analyse and overthink to the max. It’s not healthy and it’s not helping your life love. Focus instead on the positives. He may be chunky but god his face is gorgeous. He might earn less than your ex but he’s so much more generous with what little he has. Bad footwear but incredible cologne. Hopefully he will ignore your shortcomings too because nobody is perfect.
K– knickers. Keep ’em sexy. Remember that scene in Bridget Jones when they’re getting down and dirty and she reveals her erm…larger than life granny pants? Don’t let that be you- wear your hot underwear, just incase. (Or keep it in your handbag at the very least, so you’re not caught out!) We can pretend we are all prim, proper and fresh out of a Jane Austen novel but sometimes, we get carried away. Be prepared!!
L– lighthearted. Your first date doesn’t need to be a lesson on your political views, your opinion on abortions and the breakdown of your parents’ marriage. Save the serious stuff for another time! Chat about the lighthearted, trivial stuff- he doesn’t want to be your shrink and if a conversation becomes too serious, tell him it’s one for another date or chat about it without killing the mood!
M– money. Take some, offer to pay halves and always have enough for a “he’s-a-psycho-get-me-out-of-here-taxi-fare” just incase something goes wrong. It’s nice if/when men offer to pay but don’t expect or assume that he will and it’s always important to be self-sufficient to be on the safe side!
N– no baggage. It’s hard to forget about that cheating bastard you wasted a couple of years of your life on, I know. Whatever you have been through in previous relationships it can be tricky to forget. But, TRY- treat every date, every new relationship as if it’s the first. It will make YOU more attractive (cynicism is endearing to nobody!) and will help YOU to have healthier, better relationships. Learn from past mistakes but try to forget them too- no baggage is the way forward!
O– open minded. So, you don’t like facial hair? Your man has to be taller than you? You hate northern accents? Let your preconceptions go! You’re trialling something new for a couple of hours, so run with it….wholeheartedly. Are you really going to throw your perfect man away because he has a Scouse twang? If so, maybe you’re not ready for the dating game! Sometimes it’s nice to step out of your comfort zone! Remember: lists are for groceries, not potential partners!
P– Ps and Qs, remember them! If he holds the door open for you, buys you flowers or pays for your meal always remember your manners. Even if you think a guy should pay or you are having an otherwise dreadful date- always be polite. Let it be said that even if there was no spark he can go back to his friends and family and tell them that at the very least, you were polite and grateful.
Q– questions. Ask them! Favourite film? Best holiday? Plans for next year? Favourite sport? If he’s a family man? Give and take- don’t let the conversation be all about YOU. Everybody enjoys talking about themselves but make sure you don’t go overboard- engage and ask him questions. From the silly to the important! It shouldn’t be an interview in his life plans; marriage, kids, views on private schooling etc this will scare the poor guy off! Just get to know him- that is the whole point of a date afterall. A friend of mine used to turn her first dates into something of a game of “Would you rather?” The game involves giving two ridiculous options from which the other person chooses; “huge hands and tiny feet or tiny hands and huge feet?” “All the money in the world but a life of celibacy or all the sex you could want but a life of poverty?” “Dinner with Piers Morgan or the Queen?” She swears by this game- it’s fun, shows she doesn’t take herself too seriously and she claims it tells you a lot about a guy: what he values, how vain he is and his sense of humour. One date refused to play the game saying it was childish and daft…they spent a pleasant evening discussing current affairs and a shared love for tennis instead. There was no second date though “he wasn’t game for the game…so I’m not game for date two, bloody bore!” She texted me. I doubt I’d ever opt for a game of “would you rather?” on a first date but I am a big fan of questions.
R– run with it. If you like the guy and he suggests taking you out of town post-dinner to his favourite ice cream bar, do it! If you want to get down and dirty with the fella, do it! If you want to to stay on for a few more drinks, do it! Don’t hold back- don’t be a slave to some rules you’ve read in a magazine, some ideals your friend once spouted or views you’ve imposed on yourself. If you fancy some sex on a first date then why not? If you end up trying something or going somewhere that you never would normally, just run with it! For the duration of the date you are opening your eyes to his world and he is opening his eyes to yours- let it take over you.
S– stand him up. NEVER do it. You certainly wouldn’t want him to do it to you- if you really decide against the idea of the date then cancel with advance warning. If you turn up and see him sitting there looking less attractive than you remembered or wearing something you hate (girls can be shallow!) or put off generally by anything- just see the date through to the end. Nobody will force you to have a second date and you can leave promptly feigning tiredness if you must! It’s a matter of basic human decency. Standing someone up is cruel and can have lasting implications on confidence, future relationships and self esteem.
T– toilet break. Dinner, movie, drinks- whatever the date is, take a moment for yourself in the loos. On a first date, it’s unlikely your man will tell you that you’ve got spinach in your teeth, so always have a toilet break. It lets you break the swing of the date a little which will unnerve him. (Mean? Naaah, necessary!) He won’t know what you’re thinking and will have the chance to sit back and think- maybe to become inspired to initiate a new conversation or, if nothing else to re-admire the hot dress you painstakingly chose as you walk back to the table. It also gives you a chance to re-apply lipstick, dab your nose and update your best friend on how it’s going! Definitely don’t give the toilet break a miss!
U– Unavailable. Okay, so this one is a mean one! I’m not pro playing games but sometimes we have to show our man that we aren’t putty in his hands (even if really we are!) It’s important that he knows you have a life separate from him. Once you’ve been on a couple of dates and he knows you’re interested play a bit more hard to get and tell him you can’t make the next one he arranges. Be off the radar for long enough to keep him guessing but for a short enough period of time that he doesn’t give up! Also be unavailable every now and again- most people are nursing a hangover or just chilling on a Sunday afternoon- switch your phone into “airplane mode” and go silent on his texts for a few hours. It’ll leave him wondering what you’re up to and make him work just that bit harder to keep your interest!
V– Vanity. We all want to be looking our best on a date but vanity isn’t attractive. I’m talking about constantly re-applying make up, ordering rabbit food to avoid extra calories and fishing for compliments on a date. It’s boring and it’s awkward. Odds are that your date does fancy you (he’s on a date with you, afterall) be confident…that’s more beautiful than calorie counting and endless self deprecation!
W– Wow him. So this is a bit un-feminist and I hate myself for saying it but it’s true. You’re hot in your joggers, wearing no make up and with your hair scraped back messily into a bun, you are. The problem is that your date won’t see this until (if…you get to) a sleepover, a few dates in or until a relationship is on the cards. Until then we play the dating game. A game which requires a lot of effort for a few awkward dinners/drinks/whatever your thing is. A game that requires that you wow your man with your feminine wiles. We are talking glam hair, perfect make up and a few sexy outfits. You want his eyes to be on you…and just you. Once he’s hooked he’ll be dying to see you naked and dressed in your loungewear but until then- dress to impress!
X– Exs! OKAY so I’m cheating a bit here: your date probably doesn’t want to hear much about that X ray you had last summer or that time in junior school that you go to play the Xylophone in music class though! The golden rule of conversation (and I know you already know it) is to never mention the ex! If you find you’ve talked about him a lot then you need to have an honest chat with yourself as to whether you’re 1) actually over him and 2) ready to move on. If not then you’re not ready to date and no poor guy should have to endure an evening of tears or ranting about past loves! Equally if he drones on and on and on about his ex then my best advice would be: TO RUN FOR THE HILLS.
Y– yin and yang. It’s easy to look for a date with similar tastes in music to us, a date who enjoys the same films, who is from a family just like ours, maybe we seek dates from the same profession or who share the same dreams and aspirations. I get it, we want to click with someone. It’s all about that god damn CLICK and whilst sometimes we get it, mostly we don’t! It’s important to agree on the major things- if you’re desperate for children and he’s not interested then you should think long and hard about your future. What if he has a burning desire to live abroad and you just want to stay in the same town you’ve always known and loved? These differences can be insurmountable obstacles. Does he really have to share your love for 90s pop though? Or adore your taste rom-coms? No. Yin and yang. Opposites do attract and often actually work. Step outside of the norm- stop looking for the man who agrees with all your views and shares all of your tastes (for starters he probably doesn’t exist!) and instead look for the man that differs from you. A man that can complement you. Are you wild, loud and up for anything? Maybe the man you need to be dating isn’t the like minded thrill seeker but somebody more subdued, cautious and calm. Balance. His attitude, his opinions and his approach to life might just open your eyes.
Z– zzz- don’t be boring! Nobody wants to date a prissy, uptight girl who can’t laugh at herself. Be fun, be different, be interesting. Don’t get me wrong this is hard, it’s half the battle when you’re dating. You don’t know this man and so can’t judge what he would deem playful, interesting or fun. You have to be yourself and hope it works: show him you’re up for anything no matter how random. If he wants to play truth or dare at the dinner table, indulge him! If he wants to take you to a theme park or the zoo for date two, let him! Show him that you don’t want to sit and discuss political reforms until the cows come home. We date to find someone to join our lives. Someone who can enhance what we already have. An addition to our friendship circles. A new member of our family. Someone to wake up with every morning. Someone to go to bed with every night. Little miss boring won’t enhance anybody’s life!