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Everyone has a different approach to dating but one thing you shouldn't do is waste each other's time. When it comes to 21st century dating I'm a great believer in filtering; there's no point in getting your feelings caught up in a situation that is destined to end badly. I've put together some tips that I think would be useful when applying the filtering method.

Love Games

Before I go into my first date tips, a post-specific disclaimer:

The information in this post is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to dictate your actions

and should not be used as a substitute for common sense.

Thank you.

Ok, so let's set the scene: You have somehow met... let's call them 'Doe' (as in, John/Jane Doe). You and Doe have talked a bit on the phone/social media and you are open to the idea of seeing where this could go and/or potentially starting a relationship.

Pre-date tips:

1. Make an effort with your appearance - It's not your wedding day but first impressions are important so dress in a way that you feel represents you.

2. Discuss the bill - Don't make assumptions on how the bill will be paid, some people are offended when you offer to pay/go dutch or when you don't show signs of wanting to pay; talk about that on the phone to avoid any awkward moments when the bill comes.

3. Create an exit strategy - This may sound shady but some dates are just bad! Why sit through the whole thing? Make sure you know where you are so you can politely excuse yourself, leave your share of the bill on the table (always do this regardless of the previous agreement if you're leaving early) and leave. #NotRudeHonest

4. Let someone know where you are - Call me paranoid but Doe is still a stranger to you so make sure there's someone that will know something is wrong if you don't resurface after a reasonable time.

5. Ask the all important question: "Do you have someone in your life who would have adverse feelings if they knew we were going on a date?" - We all know how it goes, people claim to be single but are still living with their ex or are seeing someone who thinks they're in a relationship or have just had a baby with someone or are still dealing with an ex who thinks they're getting back together... the loopholes are endless! Don't leave your neck open! (Chris Rock reference lol)

6. Location - Choose a place that will allow you to talk, it is important that you test out your chemistry face to face to determine if there really is something there. If you're going to the cinema then have a meal/drinks after, that way you can discuss the movie as well as get to know each other better.

Shaving legs

So you're all set and ready for your first date. You're liking their vibe and you think this could really be something. Whatever you do, keep the conversation flowing. Topics I think you should cover:

1. What they want from this situation - We are all at different stages in life, and we all want different things, you don't want them planning their wedding with you if you don't plan to ever get married. Clear things up quickly.

2. Religion - Don't wait to fall in love to discuss this. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be in a relationship with someone who shares your beliefs, if there's no room for compromise then cut your losses and save yourself the headache.

3. Hobbies - It sounds so old school but you'll be surprised how a difference in hobbies can cause a lot of friction. If they're into wild adventures and your idea of fun is chilling at home, you will find that they will soon find you boring or you'll feel that they prefer to spend time without you doing those things.

4. Career paths - Sometimes careers can get in the way of love. If they plan to take the next opportunity to move to Hong Kong and you're not into long distance relationships, or you work shifts while they prefer a more regular work pattern you need to discuss the possible compromises that will need to be made.

5. Children - You would be surprised at how many people hide the fact that they have children! I've never understood why but they do, so you need to ask and get a straight answer. In most cases the person won't deny it if asked directly, they just don't mention it if you don't ask. Depending on what your stance is on dating someone with kids, you can make your decision nice and early.

6. Things that are important to you - Everyone has different deal breakers, ask questions and find out if those deal breakers are in this situation, there's no point in embarking on a relationship you already know won't work.

Some people may argue that discussing these topics on a first date is a little heavy but they are, in my opinion, the most overlooked topics and yet they can create very deep cracks in the most established of relationships.

Bad Date
Don't let it get to this point, just leave! LOL!

Things not to do on the first date:

1. Don't be late - It's rude and the person is not invested in you enough to wait 45mins for you. If you are running late just contact them to let them know.

2. Don't discuss ex's - Most break ups are complicated in some way or form so once you get on the topic you stay on it for a while; you don't want to spend the time that you're supposed to use getting to know each other discussing a situation that is dead (or it should be!).

3. Don't create a false image of yourself - Everyone wants to put their best foot forward but remember that your relationship may continue beyond this date and your eagerness to impress may come back to bite you in the arse.

4. Don't be on your phone all night - Not just in a romantic date setting but whenever you are out with people, absorb the moment, give the people you're with your attention.

5. Don't talk too much or too little - You need to show interest in the person you're out with so giving them a chance to speak is key but you also don't want them to feel like getting you to speak is like pulling teeth, things will quickly get awkward.

6. Don't feel obligated to do anything - Kissing on the first date is not compulsory, do as you please, it's your date and your life.

Conversation killer

Before anyone starts highlighting the anomalies, dating isn't one-size-fits-all so these are just guidelines that will make your life easier and allow you to filter through the many potentials. A happy relationship is one where both parties are getting what they need (note that I said 'need' not 'want') so the sooner you filter and stop wasting time with people you are simply not compatible with, the quicker you'll be on your way to a happy relationship.

Good luck!

First Published Dec 2, 2016

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