“It’s a jungle out there!” That’s certainly true with dating. There are so many pitfalls and
mistakes to avoid. Here are the two big ones!
1. EXCHANGING PHONE NUMBERS
Most dating experts recommend exchanging phone numbers (or email addresses) when you meet someone nice. Terrible advice! Most times that singles exchange phone numbers or email address, they never see each other again. In fact, that is the main complaint single women have about single men they meet for the same time. “We had a great conversation, he begged for my phone number, he promised to call. Why didn’t the jerk call?!” There are all sorts of reasons (he lost your number, he couldn’t read your writing, he lost his nerve… It doesn’t matter. The odds are you will never see each other again if ALL you do is exchange contact data. The wiser strategy is to PIN DOWN YOUR NEXT CONTACT. Make a DATE to see each other again. I know, the word rubs you wrong, makes you feel like you’re back in high school. But if you want to see each other again, you need to schedule a specific time and place. That’s called a DATE. I know guys who come to my singles parties who have little black books full of hundreds of phone numbers of single women. They never go out with any of these women, they just collect the numbers! At the end of your first encounter, if they ask for an exchange of phone numbers or email address, you can counter by saying, “Why didn’t we decide right now when we will see each
other again?” Now you can find out whether they are really interested in you, or if they were just a one-time contact.
2. VOLUNTEERING NEGATIVE INFORMATION TOO SOON
People are extremely judgmental on a first date. They’ve been burned so many times, they are looking for a reason to cross you off their list, BEFORE they get hurt again. One graduate school study found that on first dates if you tell someone ten things about yourself and nine of them are good and one of them is bad, the bad thing is going to be what they most remember about you! So don’t volunteer that you are an alcoholic, that you cheated on your husband, that you are a drug addict, that you are lousy in bed. Let them find out the good things about you and develop a positive picture of you before you break the sad news to them that you are not perfect! All of us fantasize about people who are perfect, we seldom dream about someone who has flaws. So don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Make them invest some time in you before you open up about your negatives.
Of course this somewhat contradicts my earlier advice that you need to ask personal questions before you fall in love with someone. The timing is tricky. You don’t want to scare each other off with too much information too early in a relationship. But you don’t want to wait too long (after you fall in love with each other) before divulge potential deal-breakers.
All the rules of dating have been turned upside down, so feel free to do what feels comfortable to you. With that in mind, let’s look at a few difficult areas.
1. Who pays? Traditionally the man has paid. But that’s ancient history. Cougars usually have more money than Cubs, so it is not off-base for the woman to split the check or even pick it up herself on occasion. Many women prefer to be treated by a man, but that could mean an ice cream date or a walk in the park, rather than dropping a couple of hundred bucks at the Ritz. It’s always best to discuss money BEFORE rather than after the check arrives. Communication, the key to good relationships, should begin EARLY, prior to the first date.
2. Where do you go? Movies are a very popular first date. I think that’s a mistake. It’s hard to talk and get to know each other watching a movie. It is a very passive activity. I recommend you do something where you can engage one another in conversation, be it on a hike or over a cup of coffee.
3. When do you have sex? Rather than impose my moral values on you, I would recommend you decide for yourself what you value, and then stick to your principles! Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Does that mean you will sometimes lose a potential romantic partner. CERTAINLY. But remember the cliché that there are plenty of more fish in the ocean. There are millions of Cougars and Cubs from whom to choose. Only date and relate to those who respect your values and your right to choose what feels comfortable for you.
4. Safety. Remember what your mother taught you. Don’t get into a car with a stranger. Don’t let a stranger into the house. Stay in a public place where there are lots of witnesses. Mama was right then and she is right now. You violate this advice at your peril!
5. Diseases. There are STDs out there that even the doctors know nothing about. That’s one of the reasons they invented prophylactics. Use them, even if pregnancy is not a concern.