Let the dating begin!
10 Common Sense Rules for Healthy Dating

Determine COMPATIBILITY before making a sexual or long-term

*Dating is defined as the information gathering stage of an adult relationship designed to determine the overall compatibility of a potential life partner.

1. Avoid alcohol and substance abuse. Getting drunk or high on a date is like attending a job interview intoxicated. Alcohol abuse and illegal drug use sabotage healthy relationships.

2. Use dating as a fact-finding mission. Follow the same advice you would give a friend. Go slowly and proceed with caution. Get to know your date based on his or her actions, values and character. Do not let appearance, sex appeal or sweet talk distract you from seeking the truth. Words can promise anything, behavior tells the truth.

3. “Keep it real” as you date. Speak your mind, be yourself. The only way to discover if your date really likes YOU, is to be yourself.

4. Establish compatibility BEFORE commitment. Determine if lifestyles, character, goals, values, hobbies and interests are compatible before committing to a sexual relationship. Read Steve Harvey’s “90 day rule” described in his 2009 book “Act like a Lady, Think Like a Man.”

5. Expect respect. No name-calling, threats or violence of any kind. Jealousy is not love. Hot tempers and jealousy are issues of insecurity, immaturity and control. If your date’s temper frightens you or s/he treats you disrespectfully, stop dating!

6. Understand that dating is an “as-is” agreement. Do not try to rescue, fix or improve your date. Hoping for change indicates current incompatibility and unrealistic expectations. Familiarize yourself with Alanon if you are hoping your date will clean up, sober up or grow up.

7. Discontinue dating if you discover that either you or your date is seriously pining after someone else. No one deserves to be the “rebound” the “substitute,” or “better than nothing.”
Remember that “separated” actually means “still legally married.”

8. Maintain independence. Do not abandon your hobbies, family or social life simply because you are dating someone new. Do not co-mingle funds, co-habitate for financial reasons or serve as your date’s bank or lending institution. Financial “help” creates a dependent relationship.

9. Caution! “Love is blind” but your valued friends and family have their eyes wide open. If the people who you respect most in the world criticize your choice of partner, pay close attention! Ask yourself, “Would I approve of my son, daughter, sibling or best friend dating someone exactly like the person I am dating?”

10. Consider the “one year” rule. Date for a minimal of one full year before deciding on engagement or cohabitation. Infatuation fades with time. Winter personalities may differ slightly from summer personalities. Minimally, see your relationship through all four seasons before deciding to build a future together. What’s the rush? Use your full year of dating to practice positive communication skills and to establish great conflict negotiation strategies.

Author's Bio: 

Telka Arend-RitterA.C.S.W., a graduate of Michigan State University, is a licensed Social Worker for the state of Michigan. Telka has been providing cognitive- behavioral, solution-focused services and facilitating workshops, seminars, and classes since 1984. A former part-time faculty member of Lansing Community College, Telka owns a private practice in East Lansing where she specializes in short-term cognitive behavioral treatment. Telka's "Life Solutions" program was approved in 2007 as a 22-credit Social Work continuing education series.
This program, based on her book "Change Your Thoughts, Heal Your Life, An 11-Week Self-Help Workbook", (2012 revised edition) is an 11-session therapy program covered by insurance for the treatment of stress, anxiety, depression and relationship problems.