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If you’re used to reading teen magazines, they are always famous for tips on dating and how it should be done etc.

What are your own rules when you date? Some people say that dating is not the same these days in the sense that things aren’t so formal. Sui Ling, 17, says that she and her boyfriend just meet at Starbucks and hang out there with friends. These days, the old mantra of “Let’s go out on a date” is not used much anymore.

As you delve more into dating, or start to even consider dating, have you ever thought about the things which you should or should not do during the whole dating process?

Making the first move
In this age of “girl power”, many girls still consider making the first move the guy’s job. Well, as a guy, I do not have a problem with girls making the first move. It’s quite a refreshing change especially when you are a shy person.

How does one make the first move? I’m a firm believer that if you fancy someone of the opposite sex, making friends first is the ideal way. I had a friend who fancied a college girl and instead of getting to know her first, he asked her out for a formal date and that turned out to be very awkward because they were so conscious of that outing.

Make friends first. You can call, SMS or email the person you’re interested in, and use the stage called “talking” to find out more about him/her and how they feel about certain interests and/or topics. Very often you perceive the person as something else and only after speaking to them, you find that it’s a very different situation than anticipated.

There are some obvious tips which you should follow whilst in this “talking” stage:
  • be original, be yourself
    I am a firm believer of this because you can only “act” or “lie” for so long. You can never really keep a story consistent if it’s not true. And if you were not yourself, you would never really know if the other person likes or dislikes you because of your “acting” or because of the real you.
  • make conversation
    You have to get to know the person eventually, and making conversation would be the most ideal way to do that. List down topics which you are interested in asking the other party and browse through it before speaking if you know that you get tongue tied when faced with the other party. Every conversation involves you being an attentive listener as well. And don’t bore the other party by boasting about yourself.
  • be happy and smile when talking
    No one wants to talk to a sad person or someone who’s going to make you feel down. So, be happy and smile when you’re talking and don’t go about talking about your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. Being happy is contagious!
  • calm down
    I know how it can be when you meet the person you are interested in for the first time. It’s butterflies in your stomach all the way! But remember, the other person is human as well (and is probably as nervous as you), and he/she is no different than you. So, just calm down and think of him/her as though he/she is a long lost friend.
  • be honest
    Never lie and always be honest with yourself and your date. So often, people try to dress, talk and behave differently just to impress. As I mentioned earlier, this is never going to be a long term solution because one day, you will be caught off guard and everything will come crumbling down.
  • how to finish the conversation
    Don’t just say “bye” when you’re done and leave it as that. It will not help you get a good excuse to speak to the person again. If you are interested in the party, always end your conversation with some open-ended suggestions. Suggest another time to speak further on a topic which both of you are interested in, or invite him/her out for a drink to chat or an activity which the both of you are keen on.
  • online dating
    The talking stage of course can also be in the form of “chat” on the Internet. If you are worried of the stigma of online dating, don’t be. I’ve know many friends who have found their significant other on the Internet and have had good relationships. However, be very cautious of Internet chat (also see an article called “Finding Love in Cyberspace” on tips on how to avoid being misled by Internet friends).

Where to hang out?
The best dates are the ones which give you both something to focus on and during which you can be physically quite close. The cinema is always a good bet for a first date with a girl you don't know too well, because it means you can spend an evening together without having to find too much to talk about, and when you come out you have the shared experience of the film to discuss. At the same time you've been close, sitting together, and ostensibly alone. Events like concerts and plays are brilliant if both parties have some reasonable amount of interest. But there is nothing worse that being dragged along to two and a half hours of something you don't like. So it is always better to try and pick something safe. Going out for a meal together can make an excellent date although if you aren't very comfortable just chatting for a long time face-to-face, it could be a bit of a strain. The best dates are not always the most exciting events. You don't really have to see Justin Timberlake live or do anything particularly extravagant to impress your date though.

A date with a girl is not necessarily a prelude to anything. It is a way of getting to know someone better, and finding out whether or not you get on well. And for guys, don’t think that you have the right to kiss a girl just because it’s a first date. Things like these need to be thought about and have mutual consent (and also a good topic for another article!).

What happens after that?
Once you get to know the person and know that you really like him/her, what do you do next? Sometimes things just happen naturally and it’s a grey area. Some couple never really have a formal “Will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend?” stage but they just become a couple.

I’ve found that keeping the lines of communication open worked best for me. Of course, you may not want to reveal everything about yourself initially, but if after getting to know the person and you think there is mutual interest, you may want to talk openly to the other party on how you feel towards him/her, and then listen to the other party as well. Once you have done this, it is very easy to speak on other issues like how slow or fast you want your relationship to move, and many other matters as your relationship progresses.

A relationship is about trusting, loving and respecting each other. It's not just about getting off with one another for a night and having a serious kissing session. It's about developing a friendship that involves intimacy, care, fun and honest communication.

Good luck in finding the perfect mate, and have fun dating!

Ronald Khoo Swee Keat
Ron Networks

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