If you're divorced, dating and guilty of any of the following behaviors, I invite you to stop immediately. As they say, "Do not pass go. Do not collect $200." Just stop. Here's the official "Yikes! This Sounds Like Me!" checklist that can pinpoint the mistakes you might be making that could be clouding how others perceive you in the earliest stages of dating. (And before you ask, please know that I didn't make these up. I've seen them all in action!)
- On a first date, you tell you date you've been waiting for "someone just like him/her."
- You start using a "cute" nickname ("honey," "babe," etc.) right away or text your date before he or she ever darkens your door for the first date.
- When your date invites you into his or her home, you note that your cats would adore your date's patio. (Even more worrisome is that you're going to your date's place on the first or second time out in the first place.)
- Your date mentions he or she just moved to a new place, and you sweetly but slyly let your date know that two can live cheaper than one when you combine your incomes, and maybe you could "move on up" together. (This really happened on a first date. I can't make up this stuff.)
Look, I get it. Sometimes when you're dating, you may take actions that could be considered "stupid" because you're afraid of being alone. (I call this the "DUI -- Dating Under the Influence of Stupid" -- which you'll want to avoid at all costs!) And, when you are recently divorced, you are most likely out of practice in the dating world. As a result, you are at risk of doing things you normally wouldn't do out of fear and anxiety. I know this for a fact, because I was guilty of it myself after my marriage crumbled and I found myself back in the dating scene after 20 years.
So how can you stop yourself from seeming needy, crazed, or desperate on those early dates? It's pretty easy, actually. Just stop, think and choose, rather than react.
Beyond that, you can use these 10 tips designed to help you step up and take control of your dating in 2012. Be proactive! As you prepare for your next date, set your intentions very specifically before meeting someone new.
Embrace your inner power. Instead of relying on your perceptions of what your date across from you might feel or think, make it a point to stay in the moment. Let your authentic, compassionate and brilliance shine through to increase your confidence and success in dating.
1. Dress for success and modesty. What you wear and how you wear it speaks volumes. The image you create sends clear signals about who and what you are as well as the kind of person you're seeking to be with. If what you want is a fling, go ahead and show off your curves. But if you want a long-term relationship, choose clothing that shows you're classy and have style.
2. Both men and women can set their intention for the date, but if you're a woman, let the man plan the date itself. If you're a man, take the lead. Ladies, don't tell the guy where to go or what to do; in fact, try to refrain from making any suggestions unless he specifically asks you to -- and even then, tell him to surprise you. Let him call the shots.
3. If you're a woman, embrace your femininity and practice the concept of "joyful receiving." If you're a man, embrace your masculinity and practice the concept of "joyful giving." Women, if a guy makes the effort to be chivalrous, say yes and thank you. When a man holds the door for you, tries to pay for dinner, or offers you his jacket, let him! Men, when a woman offers a compliment -- whether it's about your kind eyes or your million-dollar smile or your Italian leather shoes -- accept it graciously. These are great opportunities for women to practice embracing their femininity and for men to practice embracing their masculinity.
4. Don't judge, criticize or complain. Make it a point to let him know you enjoy the decor of the restaurant, but keep the fact that you're not a fan of French food to yourself.
5. Be sure to hold back on sharing deeply personal matters. It goes without saying that this isn't the time to talk about your ex, your alimony or your custody arrangements. You should also avoid talking about medical, financial and family issues early on. The point of a first date is to secure a second date. If you overshare early on, you'll put yourself at greater risk of being eliminated from the dating pool based on an assumption your date made out of context.
6. Be authentic. Every single person I've ever interviewed over the last 25 years assures me that the biggest turn-on is when their date exudes confidence. Ignore your insecurities and fake it till you make it if you must.
7. Focus on what's happening during the date. Have an argument with your ex? Did your daughter drop your favorite vase? Was your boss in a bullying mood? Leave the past in the past and focus on being in the now. Kindness and attentiveness go a long way toward creating the image you want to communicate.
8. Find your happy medium when it comes to hanging out with him or her. Don't answer every question your date asks with a simple yes or no, but don't monopolize the conversation, either. You can be a better listener by focusing on the connection you have with your date. And don't forget to ask thought-provoking questions that are open-ended and prompt him or her to respond with more than monosyllabic replies.
9. Give your date a chance. Don't decide he or she is not a match before the server brings you a complimentary glass of water. Trust your instincts if something is really "off," but do make the effort to go on at least three or four dates with a person before deciding if he or she is right for you. In truth, we get to know people slowly and over time. Chemistry comes to the forefront after you know each other a bit better.
10. Don't sleep with your date. I know that if you're moving on from a divorce, you might crave intimacy. I also know that television would have you believe that people sleep together on the first date all the time. But in my experience, men say they're more likely to find a woman intriguing if she has the confidence to nix the sex, and women find the men more "considerate" in return.
Marni Battista, founder of Dating with Dignity, has professional training in dating and relationship coaching and a certified Life Coach through the International Coaching Federation. Marni helps clients pinpoint exactly why they are or are not "date-able" and what types of messages they unconsciously broadcast based on their thoughts, feelings, actions and attitudes. http://datingwithdignity.com/
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more