There are infinite ways to ruin a budding courtship, and I can tell you all about them. You can constantly reference an ex. You can neg a waiter. You can wait 12 hours to respond to texts to seem "cool" because that book The Game from the '90s told you to. You can say, "I'm not having sex until we're exclusive," and then ignore your own rule and nudge your date at 4 a.m. because you "wanna do it now." Dating is easy to f*ck up, and your partner is a keeper if they are doing none of the above.
Well, now that I've made my opinion known, logic would follow that I'm probably low-key awful to date. (I'm guilty of three out of four of the above bad behaviors.) Or at least, I was awful to date, until I finally adulted my way into a maturity appropriate for my age in numbers (29). How did I, a Scorpio, accomplish this feat? Well, I stopped being afraid to be nice to my dates. #BREAKTHROUGH! (Albeit a sad one.)
I used to think that being "chill" and disinterested was the best way to attract the best men. Spoiler alert: I was wrong as f*ck. But there are no less than 1,502 articles out there describing how "playing the game is over," so I won't indulge my affinity for being an echo chamber. I will only say, yes, playing a bit hard to get has sometimes worked for me, but I wouldn't be writing this article if giving someone actual attention hasn't worked better.
If you are newly dating someone, and they're being a dick to you, do like Harry Potter and apparate right on out of there. On the other hand, if you are newly dating someone, and they are doing the following excellent things, "Accio" them into your life for keeps:
1. They Are Polite To Humans And Animals
Remember that whole thing about negging a waiter? That's the bad dating behavior I have not partaken in. Manners are my number one favorite quality in people I meet — yes, hello, my name is "Boring." If your date goes out of their way to say "please" and "thank you" and not step on dogs, they are a good egg, and you should take note.
Challenge round: A little sass served back to a particularly rude bartender is tempting, but if your date is polite, even in the face of Jerky McJerkface, you should legitimately applaud them. Go ahead, do it.
2. They Plan Nice Dates
Planning requires effort, and effort requires interest. If your date is planning interesting activi-dates (my new term for dates involving activities other than drinking and eating) for you to go on, they are definitely interested. They are also definitely thoughtful and a bit creative. Bonus points: They tell you about the big birthday party they planned for one of their BFFs. Winning.
3. They Articulate Their Feelings
OK, so maybe your date hasn't said, "I love you and want you to be my forever person," yet — also, thank God, you're newly dating — but it's nice if they can communicate their feelings in words, even if those feelings aren't about you. If the person you are dating is able to articulate thoughts like, "I really like spending time with you," or "I'm so sorry I had to cancel tonight, I wish we were hanging out," assuming they aren't a sociopath, keep that person around.
4. They Listen To You
I mean, like really listen to you. As in, they don't just sit there and nod their head at what you're saying, but they actually get engaged and ask you questions about the topics you bring up. The best listeners might even recall a particular band you said you loved and surprise you with concert tickets to a show. Again, listening indicates interest and thoughtfulness — two excellent qualities to look for in a partner.
5. They Don't Shy Away From Real Talk
I lost my mom this year, and my largest fear about dating again has been how to handle bringing that topic up. What if I cry? What if I don't cry? What if it scares them? When do I even mention it? What in the world am I even doing dating while grieving?
If the person you have been dating is unafraid to talk about the "big stuff," like loss, career goals, breakups, family issues, and really whatever makes you squirm, then you've found yourself a mature person to date. You don't need to unload on date one, but if you can trust a person with your more private and personal thoughts, hopes, and fears, you've probably found a good match.
Of course, your partner could be impolite, never plan dates, never articulate their feelings, not really listen to you, and shy away from real talk and still be a perfect match for you because you are a person who wants none of those things. (But also, how?) When it comes to the early stages of dating, my best advice is to look for values you respect in the person you are spending time with. Don't create a checklist that reads something like, "must love Harry Potter, must eat dumplings, must live in my neighborhood..." because none of that really matters when it comes to long-term partnerships. Instead, determine if you like the ways in which your date handles, well, dating. And preferably, find someone who is interested in you. That's always nice.
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