The Dos and Don'ts of Mastering The First Date

Shadows holding hands

Advice for doing a first date right.

Don't: Drag excess baggage on dates.  Just as you shouldn't have to date a guy who lugs his emotional baggage wherever he goes, you shouldn't be That Girl either. Nobody in your present dating life wants or deserves to bear the brunt of your past relationships. Your relationship history—the good, bad, and even the ugly—is just that. History. 5 Signs You're Carrying Emotional Baggage

Do: Learn your relationship lessons. Instead of obsessing about past relationship failures, look at those experiences as valuable lessons. You can learn from any dating disaster, relationship gone awry, and even a bad breakup. These experiences ultimately teach us about our own resilience, what we're really looking for in our perfect partner, and how we can do better next time by applying our lessons learned.

Don't: Be a critic. Raise your hand if the following scenario sounds familiar: You're on a date with someone new, and instead of being present and actively getting to know the person seated across from you at the coffee house/restaurant/cocktail lounge, you're stuck in your own head judging your date. He's too short. He doesn't drive the right car. I don't think he makes enough money. Chances are, you've been there, done that. And if so, you may have walked away from what could have been a great date because your inner critic got the best of you. While you may think your inner critic is merely pointing out relationship red flags, what it's really doing is sabotaging your ability to get to know someone new; someone who could be a great guy if you gave yourself a chance to get to know him. You owe it to yourself to turn the volume down on your inner critic, pay attention to the person you're on a date with, and then decide for yourself if you'd like to see him again. By muting your inner critic, you may just discover you're a better judge of character.

Do: Have fun.  In your quest to meet Mr. Right, you may sometimes lose sight of the fact that dating is supposed to be fun. Yes, it takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the process. If you're feeling particularly stressed about dating, maybe it's time to take a brief break. Focus your energies elsewhere for a while; on work, a hobby, or just on nurturing yourself. When you're ready, get back out there. But first adopt a more Zen approach to dating. Enjoy getting to know new people without worrying about where it's going or if he's The One. By enjoying your dating journey, you're all the more likely to attract a healthy and happy partner because you yourself are happy and healthy.

Don't: Look at being single as a bad thing. Be honest—does being single sometimes feel like a life sentence you're forced to endure? If so, don't be surprised if you're attracting like-minded individuals or not attracting anyone at all. This kind of negative thinking is both dangerous and defeating to your dating efforts. After all, would you want to date someone who hated being single? Do: Become a successful single The key to enjoying your social life as a savvy single is to relish in the possibilities. You have yet to meet the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with and that's fantastic! By being footloose and fancy free, you have the opportunity to meet and date and try on different partners until you find the right fit. While not every person you date is going to be right for you, by playing the field you exponentially increase your chances of meeting that perfect person. By becoming a successful single and enjoying the quality of your life in general, you're bound to attract like-minded healthy and happy partners—maybe even Mr. Right. How To Be Single In 2010

If you're really ready to break free from past patterns and become a man magnet, pick up my book If He's Not The One, Who Is?: What Went Wrong—and What It Takes to Find Mr. Right. Got questions about rocking your dating life in 2010? Email or post a question or comment on the blog.