1. Plan and initiate the first dates.
If you ask someone out, make a plan. One of my biggest pet peeves is when you are asked out on a date, and then he says to you, “So, what do you want to do?” Umm, maybe sit on my couch and watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and drink a bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz? But since I do that every other night, I’m allowing you to make the decision for me. By accepting a date with you, I am giving up my control-freak ways and putting my fate of the night into the hands of a (hopefully) competent human being. Dudes, if you are initiating the date (which you should be doing), then you pick the bar, restaurant, or activity that you do. That being said, don’t be a weirdo and choose a date that requires high athletic activity or getting in a bathing suit. If your first date goes well, then contact the person within two days, and ask them out again. Planning and initiating the dates shows that you are assertive, interested, and a go-getter. If you are assertive with planning the dates, you are probably also assertive in other arenas.
Get where I’m going with this? Good.
2. Pay for the first date.
The economy still kind of sucks and gender rules are outdated. That does not matter. Men, you pay for the first date. Ladies, be polite and offer to pay tip or split. But men, do not let them. This does not mean that you are misogynistic, it means you are a gentleman. If you really want to suave, pay the bill while she’s in the bathroom so you can just skip the back and forth of how it should be paid. After you’ve gone out a couple times, by all means split the bill — because the economy kind of sucks and gender rules are outdated.
3. Be polite and put your phone away.
Bros, when you are going on a date, you want to be the best version of yourself. Open the door for your date (car doors are extra bonus points) and do not use the F, B, or C words. Be nice to the employees wherever you are and make sure to tip. The most important thing to remember is to put your phone away and keep it on silent. There is truly nothing shittier than going on a date and the person is on their phone the whole time. For all your date knows, you could be setting up a booty call for later in the night or reading about whether Amanda Bynes threw a bong or a vase outside her window. Put the phone down, you Millennial you. The game, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can all wait until after your date.
4. Go in for the first kiss sooner rather than later.
If you’ve learned anything from The Little Mermaid, it’s to go on and kiss the girl (or that bestiality can be sexy, hopefully it’s the first). The first kiss should happen within the first three dates. If you wait too long, then you may get Friend-Zoned or she may think you’re not interested. Go in for the kiss if she’s giving you the green light. A lot of men have trouble reading signals; just because she is smiling and laughing does not necessarily mean she wants to go to third base with you. Notice her body language (leaning in and any kind of physical contact is good). Maybe she’ll touch your arm when she laughs at your dumb joke or challenge you to a thumb-war. If she’s touching you, she wants you to kiss her.
5. Call, do not text.
Texting conversations are so 10th grade. If you want to ask someone out, call them. If you are running late, text them. If you want to chat, call them. If you need an address or directions, text them. Keep texting to a minimum (especially if you’re drunk). Keep drunk texting in college where it belongs next to your toga and your beer goggles.
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6. Good eye contact.
Making strong eye contact shows that you are confident in yourself, and it shows that you are engaged and interested in the conversation at hand. By looking elsewhere, you are disengaging yourself from the conversation whether you mean to or not. Also, if you’re looking around, your date may assume that you’re not interested or even worse, you are checking out other people. It’s rude, it’s annoying, don’t do it. (Please don’t take this advice completely literally, because someone who makes too intense eye contact can also come across as creepy. You don’t need to stare into the depths of your date’s soul, but just show that you’re listening and you care.)
7. Make an effort with friends and family.
This should really go without saying, but some guys are just not so adorably clueless. Guys, when you’re dating a new girl, remember that you’re also kind of dating her best friends too. You have to woo them by being so nice, so friendly, and so funny, without being so over-the-top. If you’re meeting them at a bar, buy them a round of Fireballs. Talk about how much you like Girls and think it’s absurd that people are criticizing Lena Dunham’s naked body. They’ll like totally love you forever, which will come in handy if your girl is ever having second thoughts about you. If you meet her family, you’ve won her over. You’re officially dating, don’t f*ck it up.
8. Compliment your date.
Your date made a large effort to look good for you, and most likely got the approval from her roomies on the perfect outfit to wear for you that borders sexy and skanky, but also cute at the same time. Tell her she looks pretty and smells good. Duh.
9. Do not talk about your ex.
This is a no brainer, but sometimes people word vomit all over their dates and talk about their latest shitty break-up. If you’re not over your ex, then screw around with randos you meet at bars, and do not waste someone else’s time by taking them on a date. If you bring her up, you’re not over it. If you talk shit about her, you’re not over it. If you’re “still friends”, you’re not over it (and maybe they’re still using them as a booty call). Basically, don’t bring it up.
10. Be honest and communicative.
If you’ve been dating someone for a bit, and you’re starting to really like her, then tell her. Do not go overboard and start talking about how she’s the nice, Jewish girl you’ve been waiting for and how your mom is so excited to meet her at Shabbat dinner. Tell her you’re enjoying getting to know her and that you like her. Being honest about your feelings and communicating them in an appropriate and non-creepy way is a fine and important line. The only time you should not be honest with your date is if she asks you if she looks good in a certain outfit. Regardless of how much you don’t like that dress on her, tell her she looks beautiful and thin. If you don’t, you’ll be getting real cozy with your laptop instead of with your date.
This post was originally published on Thought Catalog.