Getting on the dating scene may seem exciting when you’re just starting out and look forward to exploring a whole world of possibilities. As you go along, you’ll realise that dating is a complex game, with dynamics even the pros have yet to master – because if they had, they’d be off the market by now! From being stood up to ghosted and benched, you’ll have many a humbling experience in this grind. So, before you take the plunge, familiarising yourself with dating tips for beginners may give you a much-needed headstart.
11 Dating Tips for Beginners
So, you have downloaded Tinder, Bumble or Hinge, and working on setting up your first dating profile. Or perhaps, you like to do things the old-school way and are asking friends to set you up with someone. Either way, you’re ready to get in the thick of the jigsaw of finding love. To help further your cause, I bring you these 11 useful, actionable dating tips for newbies I wish someone had drawn up for me:
1. Dating is a tricky game
I have been a klutz my entire life and don’t know when I am being hit on unless some hot guy comes up and says, “I like you. Let’s have a drink so that I can flirt with you some more.” Dating, for me and for people who are new at dating, is going to be a ten-mile trek, up a hill, on a rainy day. You would wanna give up after a mile-long hike but once you get past the rain, tasting your blood, the view at the top is worth all the pain.
It’s how to date 101 to acknowledge that dating is a complicated affair and brace yourself for many failed attempts and unpleasant dates, and meet different types of guys or girls, before you hit the bull’s eye.
2. Get to know the person
If I had to give one indispensable dating advice for beginners, it’d be – get to know the person but don’t rely on their dating profile to help your cause. Just think of how much you’ve bluffed on yours. Everyone does. So how do you get to know a person who is practically a stranger?
Well, definitely not by stalking them. We’re blessed to live in the age of social media and a little poking around on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook will give you enough sneak-peek into the real person behind that dating profile. However, keep the stalking minimal.
If you want to know about your date’s relationship with their first cousin, based on their Instagram feed, keep the curiosity to yourself. If you randomly pour in your question about their family background and happen to know the name of their great-great-grandfather, you’re sure to freak them out six ways to Sunday. The idea is to let them know that you’re interested in their life without coming across as borderline stalker-ish.
This social media stalking business may seem like too much effort with very little output, but trust me when I say, you’ll get better at it as you go along. By your 10th prospective first date (or so), you’ll have amassed pro-level efficiency at this skill.
Related Reading: 8 Smart Ways To Ask A Girl For Her Number (Without Sounding Creepy)
3. Meet in a public place
No beginners guide to dating would be complete without this very important – almost non-negotiable – nugget of wisdom. Meeting in an intimate setting for the very first time – or even on a second or third date – may be too close for comfort. Besides, if sexual tensions are running high, you may both act on impulse and take things to the next level before you’re ready for it.
4. Drink responsibly
Even at the risk of sounding preachy, I’m going to dole out this dating advice for beginners. If drinking is your scene, don’t overindulge. Yes, I know, alcohol works like a charm in helping you loosen up and God knows you need it to diffuse the awkward silences during those first few dates.
When the drinks keep pouring in, you tend to lose control of the situation and put yourself in a vulnerable spot. Also, I have had dates who couldn’t keep the drinks down. You wouldn’t want to spend an evening talking to a person who can barely keep their eyes open or whose speech is slurring. Or worse, someone who has to rush to the washroom to throw up. Yikes! And you definitely don’t want to be that person.
Related reading: The 4 bases of dating in the Indian dating scene
5. Be yourself
Dating is a lot like tiptoeing back home after a late-night and not waking up the parents. One of the dating tips for beginners to swear-by is to find that tricky balance between being yourself but not too much. Stick to the golden rule of putting your best foot forward for the initial phase of dating, and wait till you have established a connection with the other person before spilling out your deepest, darkest secrets.
If the person genuinely likes you, they will take the time to learn about you slowly and steadily. If you give everything away on your first date itself, it will leave no conversation for future dates. Besides, you may scare them off and send them scuttling.
Related reading: Single vs. Dating – How life changes
6. Compliments go a long way
Who doesn’t like compliments! Tap into that basic human instinct to make your date feel good about themselves and set the tone right for your time together. Just the way you’ve put in a lot of effort to look good for the date, so have they. Validating their choices by appreciating their perfume, haircut, clothes – or anything that appeals to you really – is a wonderful way to break the ice. But don’t overdo it.
7. Make it a two-way conversation
I have had dates where I felt doomed into the listener-zone, where my date went on and on about his work, family, pausing only to sip his drink and then jabbering on. They hardly seemed interested in what I had to say. That is a big turn off. When you start dating, follow the ‘conversation is a two-way street’ rule of thumb. Talk about yourself but also ask questions about them, and allow the other person space to voice their thoughts.
Related Reading: 12 Realistic Dating Tips For Shy Guys
8. No ex talk, please
This how-to date 101 is especially for people who are returning to the dating scene after a long time. If that is the case a long-term, committed relationship may not have worked out the way you had imagined. The loss may be taking up a lot of your mind space right now.
Now, that you’ve sprung back on the dating scene, it’s because you want to move on. Right? So let the past bury its dead, no matter how integral a part of your life your ex was. Mentioning your ex on the first few dates is always a put-off, and construed as a sign that you’re still hung up on the past, and that can sabotage a potentially good prospect.
9. Hands off your phone
Most of us today have developed a compelling urge to check our phones the moment it beeps. Constantly checking your phone for text alerts, FB updates or Instagram stories sends out a signal that you’re not invested in the date and mentally absent from the conversation. This can make the other person feel unappreciated or even insulted, and that can put them off the idea of hanging out with you again. Besides, constantly staring at your phone is just bad date etiquette and a real conversation killer.
10. Discuss what you want from dating
Let’s say, for you dating is the road that leads to a long, meaningful relationship, someday, somewhere down the line but your date is more a here-and-now kind of a person who is just looking to have a good time. Or vice-versa.
Now, if you hit it off with this person not knowing that you both want completely different things from the experience, it can lead you down the path of a whole lot of messy emotions and pain. So another one of the crucial dating tips for beginners is to have a casual discussion about what you both want, especially if you like them.
11. Safe, guilt-free sex
If the date goes well and you are contemplating sex afterwards, by all means, knock yourself out. But only if you’re a 100 per cent comfortable with the choice. If you have agreed to go back to their place but change your mind later, do let them know in no uncertain terms. Don’t worry about how you’ll be perceived. If you decide to go all the way, make sure you have protection on you. Don’t rely on your partner to take care of it. And definitely don’t do it unprotected. No amount of pleasure is worth exposing yourself to the risk of STDs or unwanted pregnancy.
Above all, try to have a good time when you’re out on a date and make sure the other person is enjoying themselves too. Unless your date is an insufferable bore, in that case, feel free to bail on them without guilt or remorse.