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Do's and Don't - Dating Etiquette

We all know the cliches. You will find love. You will find love as soon as you stop looking, when you least expect it. Or perhaps you subscribe to the Murphy's Law theory of dating - you love her and she loves him and he loves somebody else. You just can't win. Right?

Dating is not an exact science. It does not come with a handbook and there are no absolute rules. Some people feel that dating ought to be fun and approach the situation casually, without too many expectations. Others engage in dating with a more serious attitude, as a prelude and preparation for marriage and committed relationship. One of the most important keys to success is to first define what your expectations and goals actually are.

Define your terms
Common sense says that it will be a good deal easier to locate what you are looking for if you already have some idea what it is. Are you looking for companionship or a committed relationship? Are you holding out for true love or do you regard marriage as a practical economic arrangement? Perhaps you are looking for the magical combination of all of the above.

Avoid unrealistic expectations
The point is, there are no truly wrong answers. Still, it is very important to examine how realistic your expectations are. For instance, if you are looking for perfection, I suggest you define it in terms of human fallibility or you may be perpetually disappointed. Try to keep an open mind. Love will find you, or you will find it but it rarely shows up when you expect it and it even more rarely turns out to be exactly what you expected. Hopefully, it will be even better in the long run. Don't give up.

Brush up on your communication skills
Common sense also dictates that in order to find a suitable match, you will need to evolve some degree of communication skills. Regardless of what your goals are, dating is about relating and the hallmark of relating is communication.

Be yourself
Beyond good communication, love and romantic attraction, thankfully, remain a bit of a mystery. The only real cardinal rule is to have some faith and be yourself. The way you define success is completely up to you but if you want a relationship that endures, you cant afford to compromise with respect to honesty and authenticity.

You really do have to love yourself first before you learn to love others
The ability to relate to another well depends on how well you relate to yourself. Well, a little perspective never hurts either. If, for you, being single represents the opposite of success, i.e. failure, it wouldn't hurt to expand your world view a little. While it is a clich┘, it is also true that we need to establish a very good relationship with our own selves before we can hope for enduring success with others. If you do not love and value your own humanity, why would you expect someone else to?

Don't take rejection personally
Perhaps it would help to stop thinking of love and dating as an all or nothing proposition. Relationships are as complicated and varied as people. Love ought not to be considered a zero sum game or a win-lose proposition. Rejection is never fun but neither is it a measure of your self-worth. Unrequited love may seem terrible but it can also enrich our lives, feed our souls and tell us something very important about who we are and what we want. Whether your love is returned or not is perhaps less important then the certain knowledge that you are capable of exquisite feelings. It takes an exquisite person to have exquisite feelings. You've already mastered the most important aspect of the relationship equation - giving. Don't withhold this generosity from yourself. You are lovable too.

Process of elimination works in your favor in the long run
If someone rejects you, it is merely a reflection of them - their choices and preferences. Rejection is not a reflection on you in any way. It certainly does not mean that you are not worthy of love and attention. All of us struggle with issues of self-worth when we are dating. Most of the happily marrieds will even tell you that they don't miss dating for this reason. If you are struggling here and there, don't feel bad. Dating is hard. Sometimes we get closer to finding what we want by defining what we don't want. Besides, how would anyone ever find the right person without meeting a few of the wrong people first? Try not to take romantic failures personally. In reality, they are helping you advance towards success in the long run.

Here are a few common sense suggestions that will help you avoid classic dating pitfalls and hopefully, quickly (and politely) eliminate undesirable matches. No doubt the process of elimination will help to increase the likelihood of success in your future relationships.

Make a good impression
For starters, a good impression is a lasting one if you're hoping for a second date. The first order of business is to be well groomed. It shows respect both for yourself and for your date. Make an effort to impress and by all means, practice good hygiene.

Be on time
Be punctual. It is rude to keep your date waiting and shows a lack of consideration. If you are unavoidably detained, be courteous enough to call as soon as possible. Never stand someone up. It is hurtful and unacceptable behavior that demonstrates contempt and a lack of respect, both for yourself and your date.

Be polite
It is considered polite to pay attention to your date and be considerate. Listen more than you speak and look your companion in the eye while conversing. Listening shows interest and the ability to compromise.

By the way, politeness is an end in itself. It should never be directly proportional to your level of romantic interest or the relative odds of success. All things being equal, you owe your date common courtesy and respect - even if you are certain they're not even a remote prospect in your romantic future. Besides, you never know. Some great relationships begin with not so great first impressions. At the very least, even if your date doesn't prove to be that special someone, they may nevertheless prove to be a special friend. Perhaps someday they will facilitate an introduction to your special someone or end up marrying your best friend. You never know.

Be attentive, in the appropriate way
Direct eye contact is critical. Think about it. Why is starring into each others eyes considered romantic? Isn't it rude to stare? It is absolutely rude to stare. Paying attention to someone however is not only polite, it can be very alluring. Look your companion in the eyes. While conversing, do not allow your gaze to wander. If you are sizing up other prospects, expect your companion to rapidly lose interest in you. And gentleman, in case you've never been told, because it does seems that some of you don't know, talking to a woman's breasts is not only profoundly offensive, for most women it's a deal breaker. Chances are the next thing you will see is her dust. At a minimum, she just decided you are 'typical' if not decidedly unintelligent.

Be yourself
Your goal is to find someone who is compatible with you. Right? So, be yourself. It's the most trustworthy path to success. Don't try too hard to impress your date. If you want to create a good impression, the first step is to relax. Be yourself and be comfortable with being yourself. Tell the truth or avoid a subject if necessary. In other words, be yourself on your best behaviour.

Be entertaining
Try to avoid uncomfortable silences, even resorting to small talk if necessary. If you have no idea how to make small talk other than talking about the weather, try reading the newspaper to give you a few ideas. By all means, avoid traditionally contentious discussions about religion, politics and, yes, even sex. If you accidentally stumble into an uncomfortable conversation, politely change the subject at the first opportunity. Avoid monopolizing the conversation as you will alienate your date.

Now, if you can actually make your date laugh, it will not only put you on good terms, it will very likely create a great impression. A sense of humour is a crucial survival technique for anyone in the dating game.

Be assertive and insist on being treated well
If you've not only followed all the dating rules but have even gone the extra mile only to discover that your date has not bothered to make a similar effort, it will be best not to pursue another date. At the very least, live by the golden rule which not only includes treating others with courtesy, but also expecting it in return. Even if you are prepared to compromise when it comes to what you want, never settle for less than what you deserve and never make the mistake of selling yourself short. In other words, follow the dating rules to the best of your ability and remember that your companion ought to be following the rules too. If not, be advised that the situation is not likely to improve with time. If the first, second and third impression your date has created is negative, chances are, that's as good as it will get. Consider moving on because you deserve better.