Dating is awkward.

Not that that’s news or anything. But the awkwardness of dating doesn’t really hit you until you’re in the middle of an awkward interaction and a thousand thoughts flash through your brain.

Do I pay? Does he? Should I have worn contacts? I really need a laugh tonight but is this new comedy going to be terrible? Do I have a piece of cookie stuck in my tooth? Is he going to kiss me? Do I even want to kiss him? Now? How about…now? NOW! Is it annoying that I’m quoting The Avengers from start to finish? Should I text him tomorrow or wait for him to text me? No, I play video games, why is that shocking? No, not Madden-whatever-year-they’re-on-now. It’s 9pm – I’m usually in bed; here comes another yawn, does he think I’m bored?

Honestly, I’ve been lucky. I’ve never had a truly terrible date, though I have had some interactions that left me wondering why I thought it was a good idea to give said guy my number in the first place. Usually, it’s a matter of not thinking a situation through, only to realize three texts in that this guy is not my cup of tea and prefers football and working out to video games and Neil Gaiman (Neil, how do you manage to make it into every post!?)

Whether we’re just chatting or out on a legitimate date, if you want to get to know me, don’t:

  • Request a picture – If it’s a dating site, I get it, pictures are important. But I’m talking the “hey you shuld send me a pic” type. No, I will not. Not of me, my face, any body part, or wearing what you’re assuming is a cute bridesmaid dress at my best friend’s wedding. This is just creepy. Don’t.
  • Be 100% agreeable – If we have something in common, that’s great, but don’t just say you like something because I do. Have an opinion. Opinions are attractive (I rephrase: informed opinions are attractive). *note: if your opinion is “Star Wars sucks”, or, “You mean Episodes I-III?” we are through
  • Be pretentious – Your music is not the holy grail, and if I haven’t seen that artistic, award-winning, soul-touching and profound movie I probably have a good reason why (even if that reason is that I just didn’t get to the theater yet); don’t put me down.
  • Ask me, “What’s your favorite color?” – Really, what are we, in 6th grade? I know we’re getting to know each other, but I’m not filling out a questionnaire. Listen engage in conversation, and you’ll find out what I like and don’t like.
  • Not do the check dance – You know, the check dance. Call me old-fashioned, but I think the guy should pay for the first date. If we see each other past that, I don’t mind paying for dates every now and then; I like being fair, and I’m enjoying the date just as much as you are. But don’t just assume I’m going to offer to pay. You should reach for the bill first. I’ll fight you on it, and honestly, if I let you pay, I’m going to snatch the check next time, you can count on it. But don’t just stare at me until I reach for my wallet. If you’re too cheap to take a girl out, stay home.
  • Text me every day – We’ve just met only exchanged numbers or gone out once; texting me incessantly is creepy and intrusive. If I don’t respond right away, it’s because I’m busy, y’know, with life. I don’t report to you, so stop asking “Are you there?”.

But do:

  • Make me laugh – I like wit, sarcasm, and a general terrible sense of humor in general (that is, both bad puns and Cards Against Humanity style).
  • Hold the door – Yeah, yeah, chivalry is dead and all that jazz. I will hold the door for you, just because I’m not a terrible human being; I hold the door for everyone. But this small gesture will make my heart pitter patter just a little bit more.
  • Compliment me – It doesn’t have to be a big, grand statement, but a simple, honest compliment will do. “You look really pretty with your hair down” goes a long way.
  • Be you – When it comes down to it, we all have our quirks. Is every single person you meet going to love every single thing about you? No. Am I going to hate you for a difference of opinion? No. Do you sometimes do something embarrassing, or put your foot in your mouth? Guess what – I do too. Have an opinion. Be open. Be honest. There’s no pressure to say the perfect thing at the perfect moment, just be you.

Granted, this is all kind of a case-by-case basis, but doing a no if we’ve just met or have only gone on a few dates is an invitation to have your phone number added to my block list (true story). It really comes down to this:

Be a gentleman, and don’t be an idiot.

What are your dating rules? 

My love for lists knows no bounds. This list was inspired by 30 Days of Lists, one of my very favorite creative projects. Being creative can seem daunting, but just a few minutes a day and a list scribbled on the back of a receipt can be a game changer. Document your daily life with #30Lists this March!