While the dating rulebook certainly isn’t law — Don’t wait three days to call her, just do it — there are certain dating principals to follow if you want to set your new relationship up for success.
Here are ten important dating commandments:
Dating commandment #1: It all starts with you.
It’s the same advice your mom gave you on the first day of school: be yourself. Present yourself authentically, laugh at the things you find funny, share your personal viewpoints on hot topics, wear your favorite geeky sweater, and give your date an opportunity to get to know the real you. While the fear of rejection is often the greatest cause of putting fake selves forward, being rejected for not being yourself is far more tragic than being willing to be rejected by the wrong person in the quest for the right one who loves you just as you are.
Dating commandment #2: Do not lie.
Dishonesty is a deal-breaker for most daters. To avoid getting caught in a lie, don’t tell one. Be honest. Be vulnerable. When in doubt, say a little too much rather than attempt coyness around uncomfortable situations. If you have baggage stemming from a previous relationship, don’t pretend you don’t. If you don’t understand a political reference in a conversation, ask for clarification. If your date asks a question you don’t want to answer, tell her that you don’t feel comfortable answering it instead of avoiding it by giving a dishonest answer.
Dates early on set a precedent for the entire relationship. Don’t let dishonesty hurt the great future you might have.
Dating commandment #3: Do not compare.
Don’t hold the sins of others against your new date. Don’t compare your dinner companion to your ex, your girlfriend’s awesome boyfriend, or your dad. Don’t assume that similarities between your new guy and your ex will dictate heartache, or that significant differences will mean that you’ll never feel understood the way you once felt.
Give him/her a chance. Focus on getting to know someone new without comparing his/her menu choices to those of an old vegetarian crush’s.
Dating commandment #4: Do not ignore red flags.
While it’s important to give your date a fair shot, it’s also important to not ignore glaring signs of incompatibility, misaligned value systems or dangerous behaviors.
If you’re uncomfortable around someone, pay attention to the red flags. Don’t force yourself to stay in a bad situation, or to say yes to a date that you know, without a doubt, can lead nowhere.
Dating commandment #5: Do not play games.
That rulebook mentioned earlier? Throw it out. If you like her, ask her out. If he leaves a voicemail message, call him back. If you’re hesitant to say yes to a Friday date with Cute Co-Worker because you’re hoping other Cute Co-Worker will ask you out, say no to the first one regardless of the guarantee of a date with the second. Don’t use anyone as a backup plan.
Dating commandment #6: Know what you want.
Don’t start dating if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Take some time to evaluate what you’re looking for in a relationship. What do you value? When you think about your future, what elements do you most want in place? What makes you laugh? What can’t you stand? How important is marriage to you? What about monogamy? If you don’t know what you want before you start dating someone, you might get caught up in a romance that is ultimately destined to fail.
Dating commandment #7: Remain faithful.
No matter what, remain faithful. Is your partner a jerk? End things. Have you been hurt before? Are you feeling insecure? Talk things out. Be vulnerable. Don’t let temptation be an option. Infidelity doesn’t just often destroy an existing relationship, the repercussions can hurt relationships in the future.
If the adage is true — “once a cheater, always a cheater” — choose fierce loyalty. If things are on the rocks, let the relationship end with dignity before spending time with someone new.
Dating commandment #8: Do unto others….
The Golden Rule applies here more than anywhere. Always treat your partner with kindness and respect — especially on bad days.
If you want your birthday celebrated, honor hers. If you want your date to embrace your family wholeheartedly, do the same for his. If you want your passions celebrated, show an interest in hers.
Dating commandment #9: Fight fair.
Relationships aren’t easy. And with greater investment in a relationship often comes more passionate disagreements about things you care deeply about. Stay on topic when you fight, refrain from using hurtful language, keep your voice at a reasonable volume and listen to the counter agreement.
When you choose to listen rather than just insist on being heard, the person you’re fighting with becomes more important than the fight itself.
When you’re in the wrong, be humble and apologize. When you’re in the right, choose to reassure your partner following their apology. And even if you just have to agree to disagree, affirm one another of your commitment to each other. Hug it out.
Dating commandment #10: End it well.
Most dating relationships end, either in marriage or with people going their separate ways — that’s the dating adventure. Make it your goal to end it well. Cherish the relationship for what it is, respect the person you’re with, and if it’s not meant to be, walk away from the relationship having given it your best and with no regrets.