Some of us love a good list. They’re all over the internet, especially those featuring the do’s and don’ts of dating. My articles are like a cheat sheet for dating in the digital era, so this 21st-century list is written in terms of be and bye. Ways to be, and ways to say bye to actions that no longer serve us.
To start with: Bye to unrequited love. Keep your potential love interests separate from longtime platonic friends. Speaking of which—and closely related—bye to secret crushes on friends. Bye to being shy and silent when a potential mate is in our faces. Tell them in a cool and kind way. Find a Cyrano for your Roxane.
We’ve all heard of friends with benefits by now, even without having to watch Justin and Mila act it out. If you’re doing this based on true interest and not scarcity, more power to you. Sometimes, though, we get into a dating rut and suddenly that good friend is looking like the answer to horniness and loneliness. Mostly, this behavior leads to awkwardness. Why? Because sex changes things. It shifts the interaction in more than a few ways. Being a partner is very different from being a friend. Expectations are different. Jealousy rears its head, and now you’re missing your best friend who is now the partner you want to talk to your best friend about. See? It won’t work.
Bye to the past. In mindfulness practice, we learn that most of our thoughts are stuck in the past. We spend long moments reliving old arguments our ego wants us to replay to make sure we were right, or repeating the argument picking it apart for wins.
In mindfulness practice, we learn that most of our thoughts are stuck in the past.
Be present. Don’t be a scavenger looking to pick the bones from past relationships, whether yours, a friends or an ex’s. This is one of the codes and if you break it, you’ll look like a real asshole. It’ll seem like you were just waiting in the wings for their relationship to end, like a stalker. Plus, you know too much: You’ve listened to all of the juicy intel about this person, including all of their faults. No, you can’t change the person, either. We all know lust is a powerful drug. But we’re not on an episode of “Friends,” where everyone dates one another and it all works out. In the real world, it’s all fun in love and war until a crime of passion creates a tragedy.
Also, get off your phone.
Be open to meeting friends and family. If a wild streak runs in the family, you better get to know it early.
To repeat, don’t date your family members’ ex. Gross. No one wants that. You may be willing to gamble a friendship, but blood is thicker than water. Making the decision to date an ex of a friend or family member may end up hurting everyone. Widen the dating pool if there’s a risk of breaking the codes. Albert Einstein once said, “life is like a bicycle, in order to stay balanced, you must move forward.” Be able to talk about the future. This way, you’ll start to see if there are compatibility issues and red flags right away.
In the real world, it’s all fun in love and war until a crime of passion creates a tragedy.
Be a good listener. Have conversations, not monologues. If you’ve been talking about yourself the last five minutes, please shut up. With the people I’ve been on dates with, this has been a challenge. They do not stop talking. Be the change you want to see in the world and listen more.
Be appropriately dressed. Mr. Mouthfarter showed up to our second date with a tacky t-shirt and oversized sweatpants. I had so many lines ready for a roast. “Were you on a jog?” “Sorry to disturb your nap.”
Be in tune and make sure you’re attracted. Most of us know right away if there is chemistry. I have a friend who I’ve known for a decade. Having recently reconnected, he reminded me that we attempted the four-legged tango when we first met. I asked what stopped us. He claimed that we didn’t have a condom. It sounded like something I would say, but then I asked “well, what happened after that?” Clearly there wasn’t any chemistry there, or we would’ve gone to the store.
Finally, be yourself and be honest. Be upfront with your intentions. If you aren’t interested, don’t breadcrumb the person. Be empathetic and compassionate. Everyone is doing their best. But if you’re not feeling them, don’t settle for less.♦