If you’ve had a bit of a break from dating, you may be apprehensive about jumping back into the game. And who could blame you? Going on a first date is one of the worst things you could ever do with a stranger, second only to having a job interview while dangling over a pit filled with dragons.
But let’s say you haven’t dated for a long time due to some crazy life circumstances—like if, for example, you moved to Ohio for five months (which may or may not have happened to the author of this article).
Before you dive into that dating pool, take a look at these rules for dating again after a hiatus. They may not make you a good swimmer, but they will keep you from drowning.***
1. Look your best.
Some people believe it’s smart not to spend lots of money and time looking your absolute best for a first date. After all, you want to let the other person get to know the real you so that when you aren’t wearing make-up and heels he might possibly recognize you. But when you haven’t been on a date in a while, you may not remember what first date clothes are supposed to look like. Let’s be honest: what you think of as your “Saturday night best” could really just mean “not pajamas.” So to be safe, go all out. (And in case it wasn’t clear, leave the fuzzy slippers at home.)
2. Give yourself a pep talk.
Regardless of whether or not you generally talk to yourself, the first date after a break practically requires it. Look yourself in the mirror—or, if you find this too intimidating, just glance at yourself—and recite the following: “I am fun. I am cool (despite the fact that I’m talking to my reflection). I am worth it. If it doesn’t work out with this date, clearly he’s just a horrible human being and it couldn’t possibly be because not every first date leads to marriage.”
3. Don’t talk about politics.
You probably follow this rule already, but you’re probably also thinking, What about during an election year? Isn’t it okay then? No! Especially not then. During an election year, talking about politics is akin to bringing up the weather. “Did you know it’s raining outside? I generally don’t like the rain, and I expect that you don’t either, but if you do, it’s going to ruin everything.” In other words, the topic is boring and obvious, yet it has the possibility of alienating your date before you’ve even ordered drinks.
4. Leave the ex out of it.
It can be difficult to steer clear of ex stories, particularly if many of your fun memories involve him/her. Still, you should avoid alluding to the idea that anything may have happened to you before you met your date. Be sure to have answers ready for every single possible scenario so you don’t have to utter the dreaded words, “my boyfriend/girlfriend at the time.” What if he asks you about your last camping trip? What if she wonders why you’re not eating those tomatoes? If you practice in advance, you can confidently say, “I went camping all by myself as a sort of wilderness challenge because I am independent and brave,” and, “I once held my own hair back while I threw up after eating bad salsa.” These responses will be much more acceptable than mentioning your ex.
5. Do not kiss.
Not even a friendly kiss as we part ways? No. How about if we just hug and then turn our heads slightly for a peck on the cheek? No. What if—DO NOT KISS. If you’re a seasoned dater, sure, you can probably get away with a quick smooch at the end of a date. But if you’re just re-joining the dating scene after an absence, you’re apt to interpret any sort of physical sensation felt through the lips as, Wow, he loves me! I’m going to be married within the year! Just take it slowly. You’re out on a Saturday night instead of at home in your pajamas. You’ve already accomplished a lot for one day.
6. Ignore these rules as you see fit.
See, when it comes to dating, it doesn’t matter whether you go out with three new people per week or haven’t dated for three years; it’s always going to be difficult. But let’s say you find yourself in a situation that seems promising—like if, for example, you suddenly get a text from someone you corresponded with on a dating site two years ago (which may or may not have happened to the author of this article).
In that case, go ahead and mention politics. Look like your normal self. Hey, go for the kiss. Because if there’s one thing happily coupled people know, it’s that rules don’t really apply to love. Sometimes you have to throw them all out in order to get to the second date.
And by the way, once you do, you’re free to talk about whatever you’d like.
***Unless there are dragons in the pool. You’re on your own then.
- editor note: If you’d like to see more of what’s out there then click here!