Ah, springtime -- the skies are blue and love is in the air. Every year around this time, my Inbox fills with questions from those looking for love. In response, I've compiled a short list of dating tips that you may want to tape to your fridge if you're single-and-seeking:
1. Have a positive attitude toward love. Sour people are a turn-off and your date will pick up on your negativity. You may have had bad experiences in the past, but you must learn to separate your personal experiences from the experience of love itself. Feeling jaded? Watch this video, and thank His Awesomeness Mr. Cohen for reminding you what it's all about.
2. Be fair to your date. Your date may wear the same sunglasses as an undesirable ex, but that doesn't mean he or she is the same person. Don't project your resentment onto someone you hardly know. At the same time, be on alert for "red flags" you've seen before (ie. excessive drinking, controlling or defensive behaviour, etc.) and have the foresight to end the relationship quickly.
3. Leave your baggage at home. While you and your date may want to exchange basic background info -- which includes past relationship history -- don't drag him or her down your "misery memory lane." Trash your checklist, too -- it's that mental list that idealizes Mr. or Mrs. Right. Get real and judge your date on his or her merits.
4. Challenge your assumptions. Don't ditch your date just because he or she has different opinions or interests. It is possible to reconcile some differences (as long as they're not differences in core values) and use them to keep a relationship dynamic.
5. Keep your perspective. Remember that you're on a date, not in front of a justice of the peace. Accept the date for what it is -- an hour or two of your time. It isn't your last chance for happiness.
6. Be on your best behaviour. Think of a first date as a job interview: You wouldn't wear glitter on your cleavage, tell dirty jokes, swear or get drunk when meeting a prospective employer, would you? Act like a lady or a gentleman.
7. Trust the Universe. Many people self-sabotage, believing that they will never be happy. There is enough happiness in the Universe to go around. Proudly claim some for yourself. That confidence can make good things happen.
8. Make your date feel good. Some people will cut down their date in an effort to make themselves look better. If this is your strategy, be aware that it has the exact opposite effect. A better strategy is to focus on making your date feel good about herself or himself by dishing out a few sincere compliments, smiling, keeping eye contact, and being respectful. Even if you're not enjoying the date, no good can come from hurting another person. Not only is it mean, it can lead to some nasty karma.
9. Be kind to yourself. Realize that it's normal to be nervous on a first date and don't fight the feeling. In fact, nervousness can be endearing to a date. It humanizes you and makes your date feel desirable. Plus, the way your date handles your nerves will speak volumes about her or his personality.
10. Keep it real. Your mom was right -- be yourself. Instead of laboring to maintain a witty, sophisticated or intelligent conversation, talk about what you know. Sharing stories about your family and interests not only keeps the conversation comfortable and real, it opens up shared ground between you and your date. Your date isn't focusing on your words, he or she is focusing on you as a total package.
Lastly, remember that most people want the same things from a potential partner -- honesty, a good sense of humour and a positive, fun-loving attitude toward life. Nurture those in yourself, take a few chances and you will find your perfect fit.
Visit Debra Macleod for relationship advice at www.MarriageSOS.com