1. Don’t expect the guy to pay.
Sure, it’s a nice gesture, but is it seriously still necessary? These days, people are all over the map in terms of financial independence and the ability to pay for themselves, let alone a plus one (especially if you’re both relatively new post-grads). I can maybe get behind the rule “the person who does the asking, does the paying,” but, even then: meh. You’re both investing your time. Don’t decline a second date just because you had to pay for your own $3 beer.
2. But if he is paying, don’t take advantage of it.
Look, dating is not your opportunity to try out that super bougie French place uptown with $19 apéritifs. It’s an opportunity to get to know someone new and hopefully even make out while you wait for the subway. If you can’t afford the meal, don’t expect this guy to.
3. Don’t be afraid to date outside your type.
It might be a total disaster, but it might also be a good time. I’ve dated men that range from a cook with full tattoo sleeves to a gawky kid that worked at Fox News. Both of them ended up being total disasters, but at least I gave each one a shot. You never know who will surprise you.
4. Stop going out with dudes you’re not actually interested in, just because you have nothing better to do.
I can name five things you should be doing on a Friday night instead: re-watching Freaks and Geeks on Netflix, making friendship bracelets for your gal pals, reading a book, watching Youtube videos of dogs greeting their owners coming back from war, or literally anything else other than leading someone on just because you don’t want to be alone in your apartment. It’s a pretty scummy move; if you tried dating out but ultimately decided you’re not into it, don’t waste someone else’s time. Nobody likes that person.
5. Create an online dating profile.
This is 2014. Don’t let the haters stop you from doing your thing. Just go for it; worst-case scenario, you have a drink with someone you aren’t actually into. If they ask for a second date, politely let them know you’re not into it and move on. No harm, no foul.
6. Let your roommate know where you’re going.
Chances are, your date probably won’t murder you, but in the words of my mother: “it only takes one time.” Just shoot your roommate or best friend the details of the man you’re meeting up with, including his contact information, a link to his profile (if you met this potential Ted Bundy online) and where you’re meeting up. It takes 30 seconds.
7. Stop worrying about your number.
Stop. Just stop. This is just plain ridiculous. Sleep with who you want, when you want to.
8. Don’t follow your friends’ advice on who to date.
Everyone has different tastes. I’ve been into some guys that weren’t exactly conventionally attractive, but who I thought were insanely hot. My friends have balked at my taste, but hey, I’m the one making out with him, not them. (Also, if you have some slightly chubby, bearded friends with absolutely no sense of style, slip them my digits, please.)
9. Stop drunk-texting That Guy.
I am one of the worst offenders of this. But seriously, it’s not cute. You’re too old for that shit, and it never ends well.
10. Know what you want.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a boyfriend. There’s also nothing wrong with wanting a buddy to have casual sex with. You do you, just make sure the guy knows what’s up, too. No one likes mixed signals.
11. If you like someone, ask them out.
The worst they can say is “nah, I’m good.” I know this is difficult, since we ladies are typically taught to let the knight in shinning armor come to us, but all I’m saying is, if you’re boss enough to audition for that play, run that meeting, or analyze those numbers at work, you’re certainly boss enough to ask some schlump to grab a beer and play skeeball.
12. Be open, even if he’s wearing what appears to be his great aunt’s sweater vest.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard some iteration of the phrase “oh, he’s really nice and cute, but he doesn’t dress well.” Um, no, that’s not a reason not to go out with someone. Chances are, he’s wearing that ill-fitting polo and New Balances because his mom went on a coupon rampage at Kohl’s. But fear not, ladies: eventually you can gradually start buying him cardigans. And he will probably wear them. Be patient.
13. Calm Down
It’s a date, not an interview to join the FBI. Don’t be the person you think the other person wants. Don’t freak out if you accidentally overshare about the time you threw up at the 7th grade student council meeting. Just chill out, enjoy the night, and see if anything comes of it. You might be sitting across your future long-term boyfriend, or you might just be sitting across from a dude with whom you will only share an illuminating conversation about artisanal cheese. Either way, it’s not that big of a deal.
14. Don’t adhere to arbitrary rules about dating.
Because, let’s be real, none of us really know what we’re doing, anyway.