If you are reading this article, it means that on some level, you are thinking about venturing back out into the world of dating after a loss, a divorce or a break up. Whether you realize it or not, this is a huge step forward and unfortunately, not enough people (possibly including you) recognize this as one of the "big moments" that it really is. You need to be very proud of yourself.
However, returning to dating (especially if you have been out of the "field" for awhile) carries with it a potential minefield of pitfalls that you will want to make sure to avoid. The following are common faux pas, blunders and missteps that many make and that you will want to steer clear of, particularly when you are in the early stages of dating someone new:
For the Ladies
Don't dress overly provocatively on the first date. I personally love to push fashion envelopes and take every opportunity to do so, but only at the appropriate time -- and when I was dating, that "appropriate time" would not be on the very first date. When choosing that super-important outfit for a first date, ask yourself, "What kind of message do I want to send?" Wearing something cute and on-trend that shows you off in a flattering way will get you sincere compliments; wearing something that reveals too much can get you into a sincere wrestling match. In other words, don't work the sexy too soon.
For the Gentlemen
Guys, I am going to share a secret with you: Women truly appreciate a man who knows how to dress. It shows that you care about what she thinks and that you care about the impression that you want to make. I realize that many of you prefer to be casual, but you do not want to be too casual. Now, you obviously do not have to wear a suit to a coffee date at the beach, but nice jeans and a shirt on a movie date will be appreciated far more than shorts and flip-flops. Consider the venue that you are going to and use your good judgment -- we really are paying attention.
Don't go anywhere too "romantic": Restaurants lit only by candlelight, servers in tuxedos and strolling violinists are great -- for the tenth date. For a first date? That is way too much pressure on both you and your wallets. Keep the first date "light" -- a coffee date, a lunch date or a casual dinner are all great ideas.
Don't talk about yourself too much: There should be a comfortable conversation going on and conversing takes two people. If you feel like you are talking too much, your date likely feels the same way. Segue by saying, "That's enough about me, let's talk more about you..." and then follow with a question about them.
Don't over-imbibe: Aside from obvious drinking-and-driving concerns, too much alcohol lowers inhibitions and pretty much eliminates common sense. You don't want to say -- or do -- something that you will regret the following day. Limit yourself to two cocktails and then switch to non-alcoholic drinks.
Avoid the Biggest First-Date Taboo of Them All...
No matter how attracted you are to someone; no matter how great the date is going or how beautifully you are getting along -- do not have sex on the first date. Moreover, if someone is trying to pressure you into a sexual situation after knowing you all of two hours...run out the door (and think twice before ever going out with them again!). The only thing that a wonderful first date should lead to is a second date...not breakfast in bed the following morning.
Be sure to check back next week for "Avoiding First Date Faux Pas Part 2: What Never to Talk About on a First Date".
Carole's latest book, Happily Even After..., has won the prestigious Books for a Better Life Award. For more information about Carole Brody Fleet and Widows Wear Stilettos, please visit www.widowswearstilettos.com
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