50 dating dos and don'ts
DON’T look for perfection.
Encouraging you to settle isn't our style, but separating your desires from your deal-breakers can give your love life a major upgrade. "There are some qualities that your mate must have -- being honest, for example -- and others, such as movie-star looks, that should be thrown in the would-be-nice category," says Elizabeth R. Lombardo, Ph.D., author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. "Sit down and realistically figure out what characteristics are nonnegotiable and then be open-minded about the rest."
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DO expect to meet men in unexpected places.
"Keep your eyes open at all times for opportunities to meet quality men, not just when you are all dressed up to go out," says dateologist Tracey Steinberg.
DON’T assume that somebody’s not interested in you.
Don't conclude that if you don't think you look cute, you don't look cute to someone else, says Paula Bloom, author of Why Does He Do That? Why Does She Do That?.
"So if you're running to the grocery store after the gym, and some guy starts talking to you and trying to make conversation with you, you may be thinking he just wants to talk to you when he's actually really trying to make a connection with you. If you don't think you look attractive, you might miss it."
DO be confident and make the first move.
The jury is in: Men really do prefer women who make the first move. "It's not because it takes the pressure off of them," said Christopher Brya, coauthor of WTF Are Men Thinking. "Instead, it shows that you're confident, which is really the biggest turn-on." Many guys sense that the frequency of men making the first move (asking for phone numbers or dates, etc.) is actually diminishing. As one guy put it, "Waiting for a man to make the first move is real old-school and outdated." Plus, if you're a take-charge woman in every other facet of your life, why be a wallflower when it comes to men?
DO make it easy for men to date you.
True story: Guys have a fear of rejection. If you make it easy for them to ask you out, the more apt they'll be to do it. "Making it easy means telling a man in the clearest terms that you are interested and wouldn't say no to a date," says Harlan Cohen, author of Getting Naked: Five Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life (While Fully Clothed and Totally Sober).
DON’T go out in one huge group.
"The best size group to go out with is three," says Shannon Fox, the author of Last One Down the Aisle Wins. Going out alone might invite men to talk to you but only because you seem vulnerable and desperate. Two is too easily unbalanced. (What nice guy wants to ask a girl to dance if it means leaving her friend all alone?) And four is too intimidating -- no guy wants to risk putting himself out there in front of a gang of potentially critical women."
DON’T worry about his age—or yours.
The times have changed, and age just isn't as relevant anymore when it comes to dating. Miguel Almaraz, coauthor of WTF Are Men Thinking, said, "Younger men -- 20 to 30 -- really do like dating older women. In fact, 66 percent of the men we polled [for the book] said they would date older women." The main reason given? Experience.
DO put a friend in charge of finding you a date.
Not great at seeing who's good for you? Then stop trying and let a friend do it for you. Whitney Casey, author of The Man Plan, says to pick a (preferably coupled-up) close friend and put her in charge of finding guys -- any other guy you meet automatically goes in the friend zone. "You'll only go on dates with someone she sets you up with," Casey says. Not only does this help you date better men, you'll also end up acting more genuinely around other guys you meet when the should-I-date-him pressure's off.
DON’T limit your online dating searches.
Doing the online dating thing? Make sure you cast a wide net. "Extend your search two inches in height below what you want and two years older and younger than what you think you are looking for," says Brenda Della Casa, author of Cinderella Was a Liar.
DON’T pretend to be someone you’re not, even online.
Online dating is competitive, but being yourself is essential. "If you're pretending to be someone you're not, you're going to end up on a date with a person who is compatible with the person you're pretending to be, not the person you actually are," says Lisa Daily, author of How to Date Like a Grown-Up.