Dating: love it or hate it, it’s something we all go through to find intimate relationships. Unfortunately, it can get complicated. Here are five hot tips for avoiding the nots and finding the hots!

Hot Tip #1 – Make Your List

Before you venture out, think about what you’re looking for. Smart? Witty? Legs, hair, or butt? How tall? Religious/spiritual practices? Do spelling and punctuation matter? Politics? Bad girl or Prince Charming? Children? Education? Community organizer, corporate manager, or couch surfer? Looking for commitment or looking for fun? Don’t forget about sex: is it done at night, under the covers, in the dark? Or swinging from a chandelier in a sparkling pink suit?

This above all: to thine own self be true. Don’t let the values of others guide your decisions. If you’re looking for a partner with a great body or a deep wallet, don’t be ashamed of being “shallow.” You are the only one you must please.

Today’s technologies make it easy to connect with billions of people, but it’s not physically possible to date them all. Be selective! Make your list, check it twice, and find venues where your possible partners are likely to be. The fisherfolk know the ocean is vast and cast their nets where the fish are.

If you’re struggling to make a list, you may not have a clear idea of what you’re looking for. Instead of dating, consider participating in group social events (clubs, church) and pay attention to what you’re attracted to.

Hot Tip #2 – Be Emotionally Ready

Dating is not the place to overcome co-dependency. Don’t try to find the “one who will complete you.” Al-Anon and other support groups, good friends, and therapy work waaaaaaay better.

Hot Tip #3 – Honesty is the Best Policy

Be honest in your online profile. Include recent pix of your face and body (clothed is preferred). Yes, you’ll get more inquiries/responses if you puff yourself up, but those relationships aren’t going to go anywhere, and you’ll waste everyone’s time. You can make up for any deficits you feel you have by sharing something unique about yourself. Bonus Tip: a little humor in your profile goes a long way.

Hot Tip #4 – Try Shutting Up

If you’re a talker, be sure to give your date a chance to define themselves with some measured silence. Don’t make them feel uncomfortable or pressured. Do notice what they come up with when you give them a chance to fill the “unstructured conversation space.” Will they talk for five straight minutes without checking in to see if you’re interested? Can they lead a conversation as well as follow? If you pay sufficient attention to what they say and do, you’ll learn about the interests, opinions, and insights they’ll bring into the relationship.

Hot Tip #5 – Is This One “The One”?

Keep your first couple of dates to an hour or less. Be fully present and pay close attention to what you see and hear. It is easy to get sucked in to romance, and our unmet emotional needs (you wouldn’t be dating if you didn’t have unmet emotional needs) can drown out the yellow and red flags our thinking brains would otherwise notice. After the date, replay the time you spent together in your mind. How did s/he treat others? Where was your date’s attention focused?

During your review, pay attention to your gut instincts. Are you left feeling attracted? Anxious? Irritated for some reason, you cannot explain? Our emotional systems aren’t always correct or logical, but they sometimes pick up on things our cognitive systems miss. If you can’t figure out why you’re feeling about how your date went, spend some quality time with yourself reflecting on the experience and see if you can figure it out.

If you are seeking a serious relationship, then trust is a must. Most of us have, at one time or another, been burned by a romantic partner, and want to avoid repeating the experience. To make an informed decision about trust, date with your head as well as your heart. Think clearly about how the relationship has developed from your very first contact. Was what was said and done congruent? For example, if they said they’d be there at 2:00, but breezed in at 2:30, can you rely on them to be on-time next time? If they said they’re over their break-up, why did they keep bringing up their ex? If they said they’re financially successful, why is it that you’re always the one picking up the check? If they said they’re single, why is it that they can only talk to you at certain times? When words aren’t “congruent” with actions, believe the actions every time.

Your Hot Date Awaits

Technology has made it easier than ever to meet people. On the other hand, things on the Internet aren’t always what they seem. Have fun, but be safe. Good luck out there.

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About the Author: Luis Maimoni LMFT
Luis Maimoni, LMFT specializes in healing relationships of all kinds. His style is collaborative and focused on finding and treating the root cause of the problem. The most important things he provides are a listening mind, relentless curiosity, deep caring and respect, and a willingness to be his authentic self. Clients say they appreciate his direct style of communication.

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