Dating is exciting and fun, but it’s also risky. Besides basic issues regarding your personal safety, you’re also putting your heart and emotions out there. Who you date and why are you’re dating them is entirely up to you. You’re a grown-up; you don’t need your friends or your family’s permission to date someone, although sometimes their input and insight (not to mention their connections) can be a benefit. That said, here are a few simple rules of dating dos and donts designed to keep you safe and help you have more fun!
Although it can be tempting age-wise to date someone much younger, DO date someone more or less your age, at least within a decade. Why? Because you’ll automatically have more in common and more shared cultural references. Also, a person approximately your own age often has more shared types of life experiences, such as grown children, aging parents, previous marriage/committed relationship experience. Dating someone, for example, who has very young children when yours are grown creates its own set of conflicts.
DON’T date anyone once related to you, like your ex sister-in-law’s ex-husband. While you may have always gotten along at family gatherings, think how the rest of your relatives will think once the news gets out.
DON’T be afraid to date outside your comfort zone. For example, if you always dated white collar professionals, date someone who works with his hands. I know a woman married for years to a high powered attorney who finally found her bliss with her contractor.
DO meet a blind date or someone you met through an online dating seat the restaurant or wherever you’ve agreed to go on your date. DON’T share your home address or specific information where you work with a stranger, no matter how nice they sound on the phone.
DO expect to pay for your own meal or drink the first time you go out with someone. DON’T assume the guy will pay. He might not.
DO expect your date to show good manners, as in open doors, pull out your chair, behave in a chivalrous manner. First impressions are significant. Actions also speak louder than words. Did you like the way he spoke to the server? DO pay attention to how he acts to others around you.
DON’T date anyone you’d be embarrassed to introduce to your friends.
DON’T spend a lot of time talking about your ex. Or your date’s ex, either.
DO be interested in the other person. Ask questions. Expect the same in return.
DON’T assume he’s single because you and he are dating. A surprising number of married men are very good at acting as though they’re single.
Eve Marx writes frequently about sex and relationships for ThirdAge.com.