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No need to feel pressure about dating. You’re not a celebrity, so dating isn’t a matter of status. If you’re single, you don’t have to play by anyone else’s rules. Whatever your specific situation, this guide covers how to make dating a pleasurable experience.

Turn off Facebook notifications. You’ve probably received numerous Facebook notifications from your friends while you’ve been writing this article: «You matched with Bob! What’s his other name? Who is Megan again?» Dating takes an active effort. In other words, your Facebook feed might not be helping you achieve the outcome you really want—a date with Bob. Turn off your Facebook notifications. While these notifications often won’t make you anxious, they certainly can make you feel a bit like you’re being stalked.

Want to break the ice, but you’re not sure how? Go on some online dating sites. This is a great way to get a feel for how dating is done these days, without feeling like you are putting yourself out there. Websites like OkCupid, Match, and Plenty of Fish are all available for free. But other sites also exist for those who want to consider more options—for example, EliteSingles. It costs $50 a month, and you can pay it as you go.

Ask questions. This will help you figure out if the person you’re interested in is any good at dating or will bore you to tears. If they are a great conversationalist and funny, but leave out important information like her age, that’s a red flag. If they are not interested in the questions you ask, it’s a quick way to know your date’s value is zero.

Finding the right person is so important, and there are so many different websites out there that you don’t have to worry about this too much. Do the research so you can find one that fits you best. How do you do that? Check out the sites we recommend at the bottom of the article.

Have a game plan. When you’re meeting someone new for the first time, you want to be as prepared as possible. This is especially true if they’re a first date. If you are playing it cool, have something for your nerves. If you can’t think of anything, that’s fine, but having an idea as to what to do or what to say will put you in a better position to make the most of the date.

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How to Find Love, or at Least More Than One Date

You get a lot of crap for casually mentioning your sexual desires to a man you just met, but like it or not, you’re pretty much going to have sex one way or another. You’re very going to have sex. If you’re like me, you have the same negative reactions every time you consider bringing up the topic, and you use every trick in the book to avoid doing it at all costs. But there’s nothing wrong with asking for what you want; you can even make your requests a little fun.

Note: There is a difference between using terms like «friends with benefits,» «get to know you,» or just plain old «who’s up for f*ck?»—which when asking a woman is probably best to avoid—and being douchey by talking about making out, having sex, and actually putting in the time and effort for sex. (TMI, folks.) I am not your sexual counselor, and while I hope you are a safe keeper when it comes to boundaries, this is not a guide on the topics of sex or anything sexual.

Before You Approach

Use the flirting rules above. You’ve already prepped, so you’re good to go, and you can use the tips for getting his attention here (see below) to get his attention before you make your move.

Know your situation. Yes, you just met him, but you still need to be conscious of your surroundings. Do you have friends in common? Do you have anything else that may influence your behavior? Do you have any disabilities or anxieties that may make this process a little more complicated? Do you have to be home, or can you be on your own, or can you go somewhere public like a coffee shop? Do you have kids? Are you married or living with someone?

All of this should go into your head before you start to talk to a guy. You’ll be having fun, meeting new people, and having a good time, but having to explain your life history to a total stranger may make it a little more complicated than it already is.

Your life isn’t a movie script and no one has to buy into your situation. There’s nothing wrong with being open-minded to the fact that someone you’re dating may have good reasons for what they are, but it’s your responsibility to be upfront with yourself and your other dates so there’s no awkwardness if they

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