Do clean up. Please, for the love of all that is holy, make hygiene a priority. Please put on a fresh shirt or outfit that you haven't slept in or found in the dark and musty corner of your closet. If you're meeting after work, take a toothbrush with you when you leave your place in the morning and brush before you meet your date.
Do be on time. If you're the sort who always runs late, start out earlier than you think you need to. “Traffic” is not a valid excuse – if you’re at all excited about your date, you will allow for traffic and arrive early. If you show up for our date more than 15 minutes late, I’m going to assume you’re not that into me and I will move on. The saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Make no mistake: this is the first impression.
Do make eye contact (but don't be weird about it). Talking to your date while you're looking around the room, checking your text messages and emails, scoping out other women around you, or playing with your silverware is really annoying. Message heard loud and clear: you’re just not that into me.
Do confirm our date either the day before or the day of. And please call or email the day after to thank your date for a nice time. Whether the date was great or another one for the old dating blog, there's no substitute for good manners. And it's the right way to treat people.
Do open doors. It’s not a gesture strictly reserved for men or butch women; it’s the well-mannered thing to do. I’m a great fan of excellent social graces. I expect please and thank you’s, I expect a “bless you” or “gesundheit” when I’ve sneezed, and I expect you to open the door for me if you’re one step ahead of me, as I will do exactly the same for you. A well mannered man or woman is sexy and you will get an extra bonus point or two from me.
Do offer to pick up the tab (or at least split the bill if your date wants to pay too). It gets a little tricky when you’re same-sex dating – the rules are less clear than heterosexual dating – but I always err on the side of gentlemanly behavior and offer to pick up the tab. You may ask, ‘but what if my date wants to pick up the tab?’ Insist on picking up the tab anyway and make a point to say, ‘why don’t you get the next one?’, thus ensuring a second date. If your date sucked (and there will be several of those, in my experience), let her pay for her half of the bill and call it a night.
Do not disclose personal financial information. I have a friend whose story goes a little something like this (I’m paraphrasing):
Text from prospective date: “Hey, what are you doing this weekend? Do you want to get together?”
Friend: “What did you have in mind?”
Prospective Date: “Well, I’m broke right now because rent is coming up…”
Aaaaand guess who found themselves at the bottom of the suitor list? Think about that for a second. It’s one thing if you’ve been dating for a while and there’s commitment involved, then I think you have a right to know where your significant other’s finances stand but if this is a second, third or fourth date, whoa buddy! You have disclosed entirely too much! By the same token, it is simply NOT OK to brag about your finances either. You come off as a superficial, greedy braggart and the only woman you will attract is a gold-digging ‘basketball wife’.
Do not express or talk about bodily functions with your date. Again, this is something that should be reserved for full-blown coupledom (and even then, it’s a little too comfortable) and absolutely not for your second, third or fourth date. I guaran-damn-tee you that if you belch, fart, or talk about belching, farting, pooping, menstruating or anything of that sort, you will not get another date out of me.
Do not talk about your last relationship or recent ex in excess of five minutes. Anything more than that guarantees you of my abrupt departure. I don’t want to be compared with your ex-girlfriend. I don’t want to console you over your recent break-up. And I don’t want to wonder whether or not you’re over your ex or whether or not you’re just biding your time with me until you get back together.
Don't leave your cell phone on. This interruption will work against you in a big way. We’ve only got a couple of hours (if you’re lucky) to get to know each other and if you’re going to waste one minute of that precious time by checking your text messages and emails, I’m going to assume it’s because you’re lining up your booty call for the evening and that’s a deal breaker. Do yourself a favor: if you want this date to go well, let your date know that she is your priority for the evening and put your phone away.
Don't splash on too much cologne or perfume. I’m a girl who loves her perfume. I do! – I think it smells heavenly but I’m not going to assume that everyone feels that way. So please don’t expect me to think that you’re perfume/cologne smells heavenly by marinating in it just before our date. Please make an effort to smell clean and, if you must, just a little dab of the perfume will do ya just fine.
Don't bring presents until you're engaged. Years and years ago, I went on a blind date with a girl who I felt no attraction for. She pursued me for a second date for some time and even told me that she had bought me a gift. I’m sure she thought she was being charming or thoughtful but it felt like bribery. And here’s the thing about people: some will feel too much pressure and move on (like yours truly), but others may stay for the wrong reasons. It’s a lose-lose for you. The only acceptable gifts (which should never, ever to be brought on the first date!) are: a simple bouquet of flowers (you may go only slightly grander for birthdays and Valentine’s Day) or a bottle of wine (if you’ve been invited over for dinner at your date’s home).
I sincerely hope this serves as good advice to you other hopeless daters. I'm no expert and the lessons contained herein are elementary, at best, but they are timeless pieces of advice which should go unsaid and be well understood. Sadly, they are not. I was a hopeless dater and these are the lessons I learned either through bad dates or when I was a bad date. (I'll continue to let you guess which ones applied to me and which applied to my dates.)
Happy dating, readers, and best of luck to you!
Credit and a sincere thanks must be given to "Nugget" who helped form the idea for this post.