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Dating and Romance Tips

Read these 10 Dating and Romance Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Relationship tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What are the best ways to get to know one another while dating?

What to Do on Dates

Dating is a time to learn more about someone. Many people make the mistake of giving away their hearts too easily, without understanding more about their partners.

-- Movie or TV dates don't offer you a chance to learn that much about the other person because you're spending time watching the show. Try to spend time together afterward, and discuss what you've seen. Use this time to as questions and learn about your partner's attitudes.

-- Often, people on a date find awkward silences growing between you. Try to use this time to ask an open-ended question -- not a "yes" or "no" one -- about your partner's attitudes, past experiences, future goals and dreams.

-- A good way to get to know someone is to accomplish something together -- climbing a mountain, baking cookies, doing volunteer work, helping put on an event.

-- Don't try to surprise your date until you know his or her tastes. Not everyone enjoys balloon rides, slasher movies, or art classes.

-- Board games can teach you a lot about how your date views competition, winning, and losing.

-- After a few dates, slowly introduce your partner to the people who are important in your life. Watch how he or she interacts with them. Be wary of someone who wants to cut you off from your friends or family.

What are some ideas for building romance in a new relationship?

Being Romantic

What makes a person romantic? It's not flowers, silk sheets, or expensive proposals with the entire Disney cast in attendance.

The real romantic idea is one that comes from noticing and appreciating your partner. That means knowing that she hates roses and would rather have daffodils, or that his idea of a dream date is metal-detecting on the beach, not touring art galleries.

Lots of companies are in the business of peddling romance. They want you to believe that romance will come alive if you just buy this romantic getaway, that dinner, those candles, this CD. Those things can be nice, but only if they are given with a real understanding of your partner's tastes and desires.

Is my new love really right for me?

Hearts, Flowers, and Cold Hard Facts

As a relationship progresses, it's tempting to pretend everything's OK even when it isn't. It may be embarrassing to end a relationship when you've told all your friends that this is "The One," but that's a whole lot better than ending up sad, betrayed, and/or broke. Some questions to ask yourself, while you're reveling in the new romance:

-- Do I know my partner's past? Someone who doesn't seem to have a history may be concealing a spouse -- or a prison record.

-- Have I met my partner's friends, roommates, or family? You don't need to have dinner at Mom's every Sunday, but someone who doesn't seem to have any social contacts may be married and cheating, or may be isolating you from people who know his or her real story.

-- Does my partner express anger appropriately? Everyone gets frustrated sometimes. If your partner's anger is out of control, doesn't seem to subside, or if you're somehow the one apologizing every time, there's a pattern of control going on.

-- Does this person seem to be making the relationship a priority? Some people genuinely have tough schedules. Or you may be dating a "player" who is concealing other loves.

-- Does this person seem to rely on alcohol or drugs? An active addict (one who is still using) will ALWAYS put the addiction ahead of everything else.

-- Are words of love accompanied by real listening and consideration for your needs?

-- Has this person asked you for money?

-- Does this person blame others for all his or her troubles?

-- Does this person put you down?

Am I ready for a relationship?

Ready for a Relationship?

No matter how much you may want a partner in your life, there are times when being single is the best choice. Ask yourself these questions to start:
-- Am I too young for a relationship? Sexual relationships can be harmful physically and emotionally if you're too young to make good decisions. Young teens may like the idea of dating, but if a boyfriend or girlfriend becomes the focus of your life, you may be missing out on the chance to know other people and grow up socially.
-- Do I have time for a relationship? If you're working every weekend and going to school full-time, when are you going to see your date? If you have full custody of the kids, what arrangements can you make to allow for an adults-only social life? If you're in an intensive grad-school program, can you spare the energy to get to know someone new?
-- Am I over my last relationship? Many experts recommend waiting a year after a divorce or the end of a major relationship before exploring a serious new romance. (Of course, many divorced people violate that "rule" all the time.) If you can't get through a first date without talking about your ex, it's too soon.
-- What have I learned about relationships? Your past romances, the experiences of the people around you, and your interactions with friends all contain lessons about getting along with others, avoiding unhealthy situations, and building strong connections. Knowing your own goals and deal-breakers can help you make good choices.

How soon should I have sex with someone I've started dating?

The Question of Sex

Many people have sex because their feelings for a new partner are intense and exciting -- and why shouldn't they be? Yet at the same time, if you're in a stage of planning your life rather than simply seeking pleasure, it's important to spend time making sure this is someone worth a large chunk of your life.
The "right" time is different for each couple. Do what feels comfortable for you.

I am 18 and have been with my 19 year old boyfriend for two years. He wants sexual experiences with other people before getting married. Is there anyway to deal with this and still be together?

Sexual Experiences

Is it possible to maintain a loving relationship when your partner wants to experience sex with other people? Although many people decide to separate or divorce, others create alternative arrangements.

A predetermined length of separation, allowing pursuit of other interests, is chosen by some couples. Remaining together is possible for others through establishing “rules” to guide what outside sexual behavior is permissible. Less frequently, both individuals want an “open relationship” that eliminates all constraints regarding sex.

If one of these options is not hurtful to you, it may be possible to continue your relationship now or later. However, you must be 100% honest about what is right for you. Do not let fear of losing the relationship make this decision for you. Sacrificing what you need in order to salvage a relationship won't work long-term.

How can I tell if my new love interest is truthful?

Truth and Consequences

In the early stages of a relationship, it's easy to be blinded by infatuation and fail to notice "red flags" that can signal someone is lying.

-- You've decided to date one another exclusively, but your partner's Internet dating profile is still active.

-- Your new love only wants to meet in distant or out-of-the-way places (there may be a hidden spouse).

-- Stories don't add up (for instance, claims of a high-powered job and a Lexus that's always "being detailed" while the person in question lives with Mom).

-- Stories that seem too good to be true (if this person were really a covert CIA operative, would he or she tell you?).

-- A long-distance Internet match wants to meet, but won't pay to travel to your area. There is a well-known scam in which the con artist targets lonely men, sending photos of models and developing romances which lead to the men sending thousands of dollars for "plane tickets." But women can be victims of this too.

-- The relationship seems to be moving too fast, and you're being pressed to commit too early (could be a controlling or abusive personality, or possibly just someone with very poor social skills).

-- The person doesn't respect your boundaries -- pushing for sex or commitment before you're ready, calling you at work.

-- The person gives inconsistent information -- her online profile says she's 26 but her driver's license says 30; he says he was in the Marines, but has a Navy tattoo.

-- The person seems quick to anger, getting upset too easily at little things.

-- The person says "I'm thinking about quitting my job" (probably means he or she has been fired or never had a job to begin with).

Can I find love on the Internet?

Love in Your In-Box?

Many couples are now meeting through dating sites, and this method of finding love has lost some of the stigma it used to have. Some tips for navigating the world of online dating:

-- Before you fire up the browser, make a list of what you really want. There's nothing wrong with wanting marriage -- or with just wanting sex! -- but it's very important to be clear in your own mind so you can weed out people who aren't interested in the same end result.

-- Start with local sites. Long-distance relationships are difficult, and a far-away love interest stands a better chance of not being who he or she claims to be.

-- If you are only interested in meeting people from your religion, ethnic group, or other identifying characteristic, you may be able to find a site that specializes in Christian dating, (or Jewish, African-American, pet owner, vegan, fitness nut, conservative -- you get the idea).

-- Choose a "handle" (online name) that isn't overtly sexual. It will turn off the right people and attract the wrong ones.

-- Write an honest, interesting profile, with an appealing picture of you (and NOT one with your ex clumsily cropped out). Write about the things that make you stand out. Everyone likes good food and walking on the beach. If you like to make sushi and walk the beach with your two St. Bernards, say that. Pay attention to spelling and grammar!

-- When you respond to someone online, read their profile and compose a response based on common areas of interest. Remember, this person may be getting 20 or 100 replies. Make yourself stand out with personal attention.

-- When you've established a mutual interest, try to meet in person as soon as possible. If you're only exchanging e-mails and instant messages, it's too easy to turn another person into your fantasy partner rather than knowing who he/she really is.

What are some good places to meet partners?

Getting "Out There"

Maybe you've tried the bar scene, and wound up with nothing to show for it but a hangover. Maybe you've been burned on a few online "winks."

While some people do find lasting love in bars or online dating sites, the best way to find someone new is to meet him or her in person. That means going out and doing things outside your comfort zone.

If you want to meet women, think about the kinds of things women do. Try joining a religious group, art class, or local theater troupe. If you want to meet men, think about the kinds of things men do. Investigate sports or outing clubs, gyms, car shows, collector shops, or role-playing games. Both sexes can find interesting people in political groups, at the dog park, taking sailing lessons, at film festivals, or in professional organizations.

Don't neglect the possibilities of people you already know. Let trustworthy friends (and relatives, if you're brave) know you're looking, and allow yourself to be set up. You may be pleasantly surprised!

How can I find new people to date?

Meeting New People

Bars can be sleazy or sad, and dating sites can seem impersonal. The safest way to meet new people is through people you already know.
Some people dread fix-ups, and certainly even your best friends can make totally awful judgments about who would be right for you. Still, a blind date introduced by a mutual friend is at least a known quantity, and you have at least one person in common to connect with.
Let people know that you're open to being fixed up. Even if you're just chatting with the other parents at softball practice, or hanging out before the start of your chemistry class, you can mention in passing that you're out on the dating scene.
Lots of people do hook up at work, but there are many dangers to this, including the dreaded "We had a nasty breakup and there she is in the next cubicle" syndrome. Be very, very wary of dating anyone who supervises you or reports to you -- this is a firing offense in many organizations. If you do date at work, do so discreetly. When one of you starts wearing an engagement ring, then it's probably OK to come clean.

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Guru Spotlight
Barbara Gibson