Polishing Your Social Self

In This Chapter

^ Getting out of the house ^ Making friends and charming people ^ Understanding yourself and what you want ^ Avoiding dumb activities ating is anxiety-provoking, exciting, common, and individualistic as well as potentially straightforward and simple. The best way to have a good time dating — not just on a date, but throughout the whole process — is to be relatively sane and happy before you begin. Notice, I did not focus on any particular date because you have surprisingly little control over that. After all, there is another person involved and lots of imponderables. I don't say this to scare you, only to prepare you for what you already know in other situations: Life is full of surprises, and even with great preparation, things can go wrong, and sometimes, with absolutely no preparation at all, things can go astonishingly well.

The point is not to throw up your hands in frustration, but to realize you do the best you can with what you've got and be prepared to go with the flow a bit, which gets us back to my first point: your initial state of mind and welfare. The happier you are, the more ready you are to date. (A contradiction you say? Nay, nay. To figure out the right and wrong times for dating, see Chapters 5 and 32.)

If your life feels terrific, but you'd just love to have a special someone with whom to share it — in other words, if your motivation is more focused whimsy than desperate need — you're prime dating material. Jump right to Parts II and III, where you'll find all sorts of tips and advice on making dates.

If you're unutterably lonesome, desperate, miserable, or need cheering up, this chapter is definitely for you. I'm gonna get you in shape to date. Just as an athlete prepares for an important event or the opening of the season, I'm going to coach you about how to prepare yourself to begin. Yep, that's right, this chapter deals with preparing to date, not actually dating. But don't get impatient. The mission of this chapter? Creating a person who is healthy and happy and okay, maybe a little excited, but under control and ready to put in the time to do the job right.

I've divided this chapter into terrific ideas and horrific ideas. These ideas are each given a rating, that is, a heart (what else would you expect in a book on dating?): the higher the heart count, the more important the idea and the more critical to your dating health and preparedness. A broken heart is self-explanatory: Don't go there, even if you're tempted, even if it seems logical; the disaster is predictable.

The ideas are presented in sequential order. To get the most benefit from this chapter, perform the suggestions in each section, in order. Begin with the three-heart ideas, move to the two-heart ideas, and finish up with the one-heart ideas. (Of course, avoid the broken heart ideas.) But even if you don't want to read this chapter from first page to last, you can still get a lot of good information by jumping around.

hhhThree-Heart Ideas

These tasks are the most critical to your personal understanding and dating well-being. They may seem like the hardest because they require that you get out into the world and make connections with other people. That can be a scary idea, especially if you're unsure of yourself or shy or have been hurt or just don't know where to begin. But the benefits derived by getting yourself out of the house and meeting new people are definitely worth it. No guts, no glory — and, hey, this is dating, not dental extraction.

Continue reading here: Taking yourself off house arrest

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