Basic Rules for Successful Dating

With all of the advice out there, dating can get pretty complicated. Everyone has a formula, method, technique, or approach for dating and relationship success. While all of this dating advice can be helpful…it can also become confusing and overwhelming.

Given that, when planning to date, it pays to start with the basics! Sure, all of that detailed advice is helpful later on. To start, however, it is best to have a firm foundation in the simple and powerful steps that lead to dating success.

In this article, I will indeed share with you these basic principles. I will also include links to my other writings for more information, elaboration, and tips. Read on for simple solutions to the complicated world of dating!

5 Basic Steps for Successful Dating

To make dating simple, just focus on the following steps…

1) Know What You Want (and Are Willing to Give)

Dating and relationships are social exchanges. They are a trade. Beyond the feelings of love – people are looking to get some sort of needs met. So are their partners.

Despite that fact, many people go into dating blind. They don’t make a plan. As a result, they often end up not getting what they need – and settle for what others simply choose to give them, or nothing at all. After all, if someone doesn’t know what they want…they shouldn’t be surprised that they don’t mysteriously get it.

Given that, it pays to know what you want before you start dating. It is also important to know what you are going to give back to others in return. Be conscious of what you are trading as you interact. More than anything, clarity on those issues lead to dating success.

For more on this topic, see:

2) Look and Act Your Best

Everyone wants someone to love them for the “real” them. They want others to see them for who they really are inside. In reality, dating doesn’t quite work that way…

No, everyone doesn’t have to be a supermodel or bodybuilder. But, if they are horribly crabby or smell like an old gym bag, then it is unrealistic for them to expect others to hunt for the “real them” inside either. There may be more to a book than the cover – but the cover convinces people to read it in the first place (or leave it on the shelf).

So, in dating, it pays to put your best foot forward. Again, no need for the plastic surgeon. However, grooming, getting some nice clothes that fit and flatter, smelling good, and staying healthy, all go a long way. Similarly, a pleasant disposition is very powerful, not to mention a touch of masculinity or femininity (depending on who you want to attract). Frankly, people like being around others who are pleasant – in looks and disposition. Tending to these details can make all the difference.

For more on this topic, see:

3) Read and Use Body Language

Most dating fails because people don’t read the signs. Every day, people send off a million non-verbal signals. Many of them say “please talk to me”, “you’re cute”, “pay attention here”. Others clearly shout “get lost”, “not you”, or “today is a bad day”.

Unfortunately, most people are so illiterate when it comes to body language that they miss the invitations of others (or warning signs). They also fail to send the right signals themselves. If you’re walking around tense and grumpy like you want to wring someone’s neck – don’t be surprised when that cute person you’re crushing on doesn’t come up and say hi!

The secret then, is to learn to read and send the right signals. Also, it is essential to be conscious of what other people are saying through their actions, not words. Learning these skills will go a long way towards knowing who to  flirt with and ask out. It will also help attract others as well.

For more on this topic, see:

4) Be Brave

As Virgil said, “fortune favors the brave”. Dating also favors the brave. Unfortunately, many people are scared, avoidant, and unsure. As a result, many others are deprived of meeting that special someone – because he or she was too shy to say hello.

Truth be told, deep down, dating is a numbers game. You will most likely have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a real princess or prince. Your first love will most likely not be your last. Therefore, the more comfortable you are being social, making acquaintances, and facing rejection – the more likely you are to get the love you’re after.

Overall, dating success is a direct result of how courageous you are. Learning to face rejection, approach others confidently, and date without fear are all key. Even if you are looking for “one and only”, you will most likely sift through many to find them in the process. So, it can be beneficial to get out there and be social.

For more on this topic, see:

5) Ask for What You Want

Whether it is the first date, or the 100th, you have a better chance of getting what you want when you ask for it. However, many people sit around and passively hope. They hope someone will notice them. They hope someone will ask them out. But, hope is not influential, persuasive, or even very effective.

Ironically, asking is VERY effective. For example, one study found that 68% of single men and 43% of single women said yes when they were asked on a date by a stranger of average attractiveness. Others have confirmed this finding.

This approach can be particularly helpful to women, who often resort to a more passive role in dating. Again, studies show that they meet with success the majority of the time, if they simply ask for what they want. So, don’t be a wall-flower. Ask…and you might just receive!

For more on this topic, see:


Dating doesn’t have to be a mystery. It doesn’t even need to be complicated. It just takes a bit of thought and effort – and a touch of courage too!

So, if you’re struggling with dating, or are making it far too complicated, just follow the steps above. Keep it simple. Go be social. Offer and expect a fair trade. Ask for what you want. With a little effort in those areas, you will be pleasantly surprised…

Please leave me your thoughts. Share, like, tweet, and comment below.

Until next time…happy dating and relating!

Dr. Jeremy Nicholson
The Attraction Doctor

Photo: Love by catlovers at

© 2011-2012 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.

About Dr. Jeremy Nicholson

My name is Dr. Jeremy Nicholson. I am a Doctor of Social and Personality Psychology, with a research and writing focus on influence, persuasion, dating, and relationships. I also hold Master’s degrees in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Social Work. I currently lives in Boston, Mass.
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