The dating world can sometimes be a very confusing place, plagued with all kinds of rules and bad advice. Below is a brief overview and guide from my personal perspective. I should warn you now that I am no expert, so take the following with a very generous pinch of salt.

The first date

So you’ve agreed to go on a first date. Congratulations. Now here’s the hard part: the location. For me, there’s nothing worse than eating dinner in front of a complete stranger. Nothing says attractive quite like getting food stuck between your two front teeth. I regularly flashback to a rather embarrassing first date when my chinos split at the crotch, just as I was tucking into the first course.

Something simple like coffee or drinks is probably your best option (and safest to should you want to make a quick escape). It’s a much more relaxing atmosphere allowing you to talk naturally and not have to put on a facade to compliment the menu. It’s important to remember here that you’re effectively a blank canvas. Albeit you want to paint the best picture possible and the last thing you want to do is explode with information. You have one mouth and two ears for a reason.

Cost management

Many a straight friend has asked me this question before. I guess in their world, more often than not that the man will pay. For the LGBT community it’s a little bit less clear cut. I would recommend that for the first few dates you suggest going halves on the bill. That way you avoid any kind of expectations and you don’t have to feel obliged for another date.

Mobile relationships

Texting has to be possibly the most complex part of the whole dating process and it’s also governed by the most ‘rules’. If you succeed in getting it right, it’s a sure-fire date winner. Gauge the situation wrong and it might just be that it halts everything in its tracks. Sadly, we all enjoy the chase. Forgive me for exaggerating but a constant stream of texts may be pleasant and welcomed on the one hand but it might give the wrong impression.

Fear not though. Texting, or rather communicating, is a very natural process. You’ll be able to gauge yourself what or when is appropriate. As you go on more dates and you spend more time with each other, then double checking your spelling and punctuation becomes much less of a necessity.

If you do find yourself in dire times of need or subtle guidance there is a very handy infographic that provides much needed assistance: http://visual.ly/should-i-text-him-flowchart

The silence

Unfortunately, this is one of the most common scenarios that we find ourselves in. Not everyone can be honest with the way they feel and sometimes the easiest option for them is to simply ignore the other person. If you do find yourself in this situation, then please do not exploit your unlimited texts in the hope of regaining his attention. Put simply, you just need to understand that for one reason, or quite possibly several, it didn’t work out.

Friendship test

Your friends are the people that know you best. The people that have seen you at your highs and stayed with you through your lows. Of course both you and he are going to be extremely nervous. Friends have a massive impact on your social life and you don’t want to feel pressured into dividing your time.

I would suggest staggering it over a few weeks, don’t introduce him to every single one of your nearest and dearest. The last thing you want to do is replicate a police line-up, resulting in him uncomfortably making small talk with every single one. I’m sure your friends will like him for the very reason you will, just remember to understand that it can be quite an overwhelming and uncomfortable process.

Getting an exclusive

I would avoid any kind of subtle hints towards exclusiveness for at least the first few dates. It’s not a thing to be rushed and you’ll know when the time is right as it will naturally move to a quite possibly slightly awkward conversation about ‘how you think it’s going’.

Of course you shouldn’t write off subconscious exclusiveness, it may be that for both concerned you’re exclusive from the very start and you just fail to communicate this. It should also be noted that if your significant other doesn’t want to make it exclusive just yet you shouldn’t let this get you down. Much like the anatomy of the genital area, we all know that people are very different. This extends to emotions too.

Status check

This is the end of the Yellow Brick Road guiding you through the dating world. You’ve had a wild few months and you’ve decided you’re ready to really commit. You’ve sat through the awkward first meal at the mother-in-laws and you have survived to tell the tale.

Remember that you don’t want to tell the world and any would be stalkers out there that you have a boyfriend in case you have to unfortunately return to single status the week later. Does he know your coffee order? Do you have a toothbrush at his? If the answer’s ‘yes’, then you’re on track to change that relationship status. Of course, I joke, but what I’m trying to get across is that it’s not one for the faint hearted and there should be some real commitment there to back it up.