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Dating for Beginners

by M.H. Dyer

Stepping into the world of dating may seem risky, complicated and downright intimidating, but dating really isn't all that different from the process of building a regular friendship. While there are no hard and fast rules about dating, the key is to relax and have a good time as you get to know new people and build new relationships.

Meeting People

For people new to the dating scene, group events are often easier, more casual and less threatening ways to meet and talk to new people with similar interests. Attend sports or political events. Take classes, join clubs or volunteer with charitable organizations. Try to get out into the world and participate in social activities at least once or twice every week, recommends Nancy Wesson, Ph.D. Smile, be friendly and make eye contact. Improve your social skills by setting reasonable goals for yourself. Make a commitment to start at least two conversations and introduce yourself to a minimum of three new people at each event, Dr. Wesson advises.

Asking for a Date

Plan ahead and be specific when you ask for a date so the person knows exactly what to expect. For example, say, "Would you like to have a soda or cup of coffee with me Saturday afternoon?" This is likely to meet with more success than a question such as, "Do you have plans Friday night?" Asking a person for a date isn't easy and a fear of rejection is common. However, maintain your self-confidence and don't take it personally if you're turned down a few times. According to Anita Gurian, clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, dating is a prime opportunity to learn about relationships and develop your communication and social skills.

Going Out

Dates don't need to be complicated, and casual dates are often more fun and less intimidating than formal dates. Stick to public places on a first date and choose something you both enjoy. If money is tight, have ice cream, go for a walk, visit a book store or museum, or see an afternoon matinee. Dress appropriately for the occasion. Brush your teeth. Be neat and clean and stick with old-fashioned manners and general rules of good behavior. Show genuine interest in the other person and what he has to say. Remember that a date is an opportunity to have a good time, not to choose your soul mate for life, advises Kelsey McCoy at Florida Institute of Technology Counseling and Psychological Services.

Followup

Tell the person if you've had a good time and ask her if she'd like to get together again. If the date hasn't gone well and you aren't interested in a second date, be considerate of her feelings, but don't lead her on or tell her you'll call. If you aren't sure, consider a second date to get to know the other person better without those first date jitters. End the first date with a hug or a simple kiss on the cheek and don't press for more. Don't look for perfection, but don't be too disappointed if things don't work out.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

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