1. Both parties be prepared to pay when the check comes. Regardless of who is going to end up paying for it, it’s important that both people a) come prepared with the funds required to pay and b) at least do the “reach for the wallet so the other person can swat it away and do the ‘I insist’ move that makes them feel cool and put-together.” It’s common courtesy.
2. If you’re going to wait to text back, limit to under 1 hour. Sometimes you have to be chic and calm and pretend to not have been waiting by your phone like a sweaty imp, so you wait for a few counts before hitting ‘reply.’ Makes sense. But this should not turn into “let the person hang for days on end in order to seem disconnected and sexy.” Limit your “pretending-to-have-a-life” waiting game to one hour or less.
3. Give them a chance to redeem themselves before complaining to friends. Don’t go straight to the shit-talking. Let them explain themselves, give them a chance to communicate, and if you are still unsatisfied — then you can bitch to your circle of friends.
4. Never reveal the depths of your creeping. Yes, on some level, you’re both aware that you have spent the past few nights staying up until your hands start shaking so you can browse their LinkedIn page and go back to the very first Facebook pictures they posted in 2005. But under no circumstances can you admit this. Neither party needs to verbally acknowledge the creeping.
5. Give flowers for no reason. Putting all the pressure on the bouquet of first-date flowers (that the person then has to awkwardly carry around for the rest of the night) is not cool. But random flowers, just to show you care, are very cool.
6. Build the anticipation. I don’t know about you, but I think there is still something very sexy and wonderful about building up just to the first kiss. Not sex, not even clothes-on homecoming-dance-esque rubbing, just a kiss. Some of my best dating moments have involved waiting until the end of the second incredible date to actually have that kiss. And no matter what you plan on doing, we could all do better in this world of complete sexual desensitization to build up the suspense a little bit.
7. No talking to friends about intimate details. If you receive a consensual saucy picture, it is your moral and ethical responsibility not to show it to friends. They may never find out about your betrayal, but God saw. God saw, and He is judging your dick pic-sharing.
8. Date in the daylight. At least one of your first few dates should take place in the light of day, and the sobriety of being at a museum or a park in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. It’s a totally different dating vibe, but it’s a very necessary one for building connections outside of the haziness of a corner booth in a bar.
9. Everyone eat what they want when out at restaurants. No pretending to nibble on a salad to seem healthy and light so you can house a half a pizza when you get home. Any two people who are meant to be together are people who can eat a Home Depot bucket-sized portion of penne alla vodka in front of each other.
10. Remember to say thank you to the friends who helped you through the “insane, re-read every text they sent me fifty times to analyze it” period. Send them a muffin basket or something. Because they brought you through the existential crisis of your first few weeks of dating, and that is a true soldier’s duty.
11. Remember to do the same for them when they are falling in love. If your friends stood by you through your insane text message moments, you must do the same for them. It’s just the right thing to do.
12. Say how you feel. Even in the first few dates, when you’re both trying to be all coy and aloof and not reveal your feelings, communication is still important. If you like someone, say “Hey, I want to see you again.” It shouldn’t take until date number 17 to be finally sure that they are interested in seeing you.
13. Say “thank you.” It sounds obvious, but it’s something we often forget when it comes to dating. If someone does something nice for you, pays for a meal, holds a door, brings a gift — say thank you. Actually take that moment to acknowledge and thank them for it, instead of acting like it’s part of the “date experience.” No one is obligated to be kind and considerate and generous, even when they are trying to make out with you at the end of the night.