Dating -- Do's and Don'ts

04/06/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

With Valentine's Day just days away, I have been fielding questions left and right about dating. While I do not have the magic formula for finding the love of your life, I do have ten tips to get you started.

Be Open ~ if you are out of school, the dating scene narrows dramatically. Be open to finding dates through a variety of sources. Ask friends and family if they know of anyone who is single. If you are busy, hire a professional matchmaker, sign-up for an online dating board, join clubs, take an adult education class, go to the gym, or visit your place of worship. Most of all - get out of the house. Prince (or Princess) Charming does not make house calls.

Cast A Wide Net ~
when fishing in the daring waters of dating, do not be too picky too soon. Agree to meet a variety of people. And do not limit your choices. Once you truly have an idea of your options, then you can choose to see someone exclusively. Until then, enjoy the world of dating.

Start Small ~
since the magic attraction factor can be elusive over the telephone, do not waste valuable time talking for hours and hours before you have even met. Schedule a brief, low stress first date to meet before investing a lot of time. The best first dates usually involve a cup of coffee, an ice cream, or a drink and should last for between 30 minutes to an hour. If after you go home, you think you would like to get to know the person better, it is then time to move on to a second date.

Accessorize With Mystery ~
too many people feel a need to review the relationship resume in full during the first date. While clearly you should be honest, there is also no need to use the first date as a counseling session. Allow the conversation to remain light for the first two dates. See if you even enjoy spending time with this person before sharing the intimate details of your life.

Twice Is Nice ~ first dates are nerve wracking occasions. Most people are hard pressed to make a good first impression. Unless the person is absolutely horrid, give it at least two dates before making any final decisions. Remember, bad first date stories always make great wedding toast material.

Be A Prude ~ keeping in the same vein as mystery; decide whether or not you like this person as an individual before deciding if you want them as a romantic partner. As your grandmother would say "A little hand holding and cuddling can go a long way." Or as your grandfather would say "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free." I am sure you get the picture.

Share The Wealth ~ so, ok, there was no love connection. Just because this was not your life-long partner does not mean either of you are destined for loneliness. Networking is not just for business anymore. Wrack your brain to see if there is anyone you can introduce this person to who might be a better match. Hey, you never know... your bad date's second cousin might be your dreamboat.

Take It To The Next Level ~ in high school it is fine to date for years and years. As an adult, there is a breaking point where the relationship either has to move to the next level or end. Know what your time frame is and stick to it. If you are not serious about this person, let them go so that they can find their match.

Best Behavior ~
I realize it should go without saying, but while dating you should be on your best behavior. Show your date your good qualities before adding your quirks into the mix. Arrive on time, dressed appropriately with a positive attitude. Ten minutes after the date was supposed to begin is too late to call and cancel!

Humor Required ~ dating is fraught with danger and disaster. It is best to arm yourself with your sense of humor. Keep things in perspective and know that even the worst dates make for great conversations later with friends.

Just because you have not found your soul mate by February 14th does not mean you are allowed to sit at home and mope. Call some of your single friends and schedule some fun. Have party, rent the Godfather movies and eat pasta. Enjoy some spa treatments while sipping pear nectar. Plan a ski weekend... that cute ski instructor may be single too!