10 don’ts for dating and first impressions
by STRONG THOUGHTS: Christy Armstrong, Banner Staff Writer
Jun 22, 2014 | 472 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
About a year after I wrote “A Single Person’s Guide to Surviving Wedding Season,” I find myself with the same single marital status.

However, I am just a little bit older and (hopefully) a little bit wiser on the different circumstances life brings — including matters of the heart.

One thing that I have been realizing lately is that dating is not for the faint of heart.

I am one of those people who makes a lot of lists. For example, at work, I make lists of the stories I have to write and people I have to call.

While it is not one I would share with anyone, I have a list of things I keep in mind while dating. It is difficult to know who you want to be with if you cannot articulate which qualities you would like to see in someone.

A couple weeks or so ago, I went on a first date with a guy on what must have been Opposite Day instead of a normal day in June. While he did seem like a nice guy, he said and did things that made me realize that he was not the one for me.

One of my relatives used to always caution me when I was younger that I might “have to kiss a few frogs” before I “find a prince.” That raised a question in my mind that I still ask today.

If it is obvious that a guy is a “frog,” why kiss him at all?

Some people are genuinely nice at the core of things but say and do things that lead to them unintentionally narrowing down their relationship options.

As a public service to all the single people out there looking for love, I offer you my “10 Don’ts for Dating” in no certain order.

1. Don’t talk about other dates.

No person wants to hear about how great or how terrible their date’s last significant other was. Everyone has their own sets of experiences in the area of relationships, but a first date is not the time to share them. First dates should be for focusing on the future you might have with the person you are with now.

2. Don’t be too focused on the future.

While it is a good thing to look forward to the possibilities of what could be with someone new, be sure that you aren’t talking about wedding bells just yet. I kid you not, I once had a guy ask me on a first date if I thought I might want to get married someday and how many kids I might want to have. A first date is too soon for such questions.

3. Don’t forget your manners.

A 2-year-old boy doing something like chewing with his mouth open is gross — but somewhat understandable given his age. A twenty-something man doing the same thing is inexcusable. By that age, a man should have already mastered things like table manners and moved on to things like courteously opening doors for people. My aforementioned date had mastered neither skill.

4. Don’t neglect your personal hygiene.

Bathe regularly, wear clean clothes and brush your teeth. Your date should not be able to smell your body odor or breath from across the table, and you should realize that no cologne or body spray can totally cover up the stench of someone who has not actually bathed.

4. Don’t get into intense debates.

I’ve heard it said that you should not discuss religion or politics when you first meet someone. I disagree with that because my views are important to me, and I like knowing if my date feels the same way I do. However, there is a major difference between cordial discussion and full-on debate. Nobody wants to feel like their views are being attacked, and that might not earn you any brownie points with your date.

5. Don’t ignore your date.

In the age of smartphones, it can be easy for some to want to check that latest notification on the screen to stay up to date on what’s happening. However, interactions through electronic devices cannot replace face-to-face conversation. If you are on a date with someone, put your phone on silent or turn it off. If you are on a date with someone, make sure your mind is there too.

6. Don’t be needy.

Take care that you do not get so excited about the prospect of falling in love that you feel the need to pursue the other person with reckless abandon. Don’t be reckless. Realize that calling and sending your date repeated text messages right after the date, and constantly being demanding of a person’s time to the degree that your date would have to neglect important responsibilities to comply, looks desperate. Desperation is not an attractive quality.

7. Don’t dominate the conversation.

A conversation is not a conversation if one of the people involved cannot get a word in edgewise. Make sure both of you have the chance to speak and ask questions to get to know each other. If one person is doing all the talking, then that can be an indication of how conversations could continue to go after the first date. Communication is a key factor in good relationships.

8. Don’t “humble brag.” 

It is wonderful to share about yourself — especially if your date asks you questions like they should in an effort to get to know you better. However, I find it annoying when everything a date says ends up being an opportunity for passive-aggressive bragging. At the end of the day, humility can do more to grow a relationship than headstrong arrogance. Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t act like you’re constantly selling yourself like that store salesperson that won’t leave you alone.

9. Don’t try to make your insecurities theirs.

Again, we all have past relationship experiences, and they can sometimes be bad ones. However, keep in mind that each new person is different. Don’t “punish” someone for someone else’s actions by doing things like constantly being on the defensive because someone wronged you in the past. The past is old news.

10. Don’t base your happiness on having a significant other.

If things don’t work out with someone, realize that it does not change your worth as a person. Happiness comes after one realizes they deserve to be happy. A person’s worth should not be wrapped up in whether or not someone wants to marry them. We’re all imperfect people striving for perfection that is impossible to find. We just hope to find the closest thing to “happily ever after” we can.

I hope that advice helps all you single people out there trying to navigate the dating game.

Yes, dating is a game.

Finding love is all about finding the person who plays the same game by the same rules you do.

You just have to learn to play your own game well first.