Erika Ettin column: 25 dating tips you can use today

Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.

Dating can be hard. There’s no disputing that. But, it doesn’t have to be as hard as you make it. Let’s look at these 25 dating tips to make the world a better place. Some are intuitive, and some may make you scratch your head. Regardless, even if you pick up a few new pointers, it’ll be worth it:

1. Focus on today, not tomorrow.

So many people are more focused on what else is out there rather than what’s right in front of them. Enjoy the dates you have before you worry about who else is in the queue.

2. Show up for your dates.


The number of clients who either are stood up or who have been canceled on within an hour of the date is astonishing. Be an adult. Keep your plans.

3. Be present, even if it’s not a match.

Sometimes you walk into the bar and just know it’s not a match, and then you turn off, like a light switch. You might be thinking of your grocery list, your date tomorrow night, or your puppy at home. As tough as it is, try to remain present for the remainder of the date. You’ll never know what you might get out of it — a friend, a colleague, a new fun fact — if you’re ignoring the other person.

4. Thank your date.

Maybe you paid. Maybe your date paid. Either way, thank the other person for his or her generosity and time. Men’s biggest pet peeve when they treat on a date is when someone doesn’t appreciate what they’ve done. A sincere “thank you” goes a long way.

5. Be kind to people.

I don’t care whether it’s a server, a stranger on the subway, or a homeless person. Be kind to those around you, for both you and your date’s sake.

6. Stop ghosting people.


If you don’t like someone after a couple dates, own up to it and tell the person that you’re not feeling a spark versus letting him or her wonder why you haven’t returned a text. Take the two seconds to end things tactfully and maturely.

7. Be yourself.

Don’t gloss over your real personality on the first date. Someone is going to have to get to know it eventually, so it might as well be sooner rather than later!

8. Try only using two online dating sites.

Just like when you have too many cooks in the kitchen, you might have too many online dating profiles up and running. When we spread ourselves too thin, we rarely do anything well. Try sticking with two sites and focusing on using them both to their fullest.

9. Speak up.

If you have an issue, speak up. One of my clients keeps going on these dates and then complaining to me that she’s hungry when she gets home. I told her to either eat a snack first or suggest getting a nibble on the date. Say what you need, especially when it’s as simple as ordering an appetizer.

10. Remember that no singular person represents all of online dating.


Everyone knows someone who has either a horror story or a love story — or both — with someone from an online dating site. Remember that no singular person could ever represent the entire world of online dating.

Now for the rest:

11. Notify your date if you’re going to be late. Don’t just show up late.

12. Smile. Studies show that smiling can actually make you happier.

13. Greet each other with a small hug. Handshakes are for business meetings. (Caveat: During COVID times, ask permission before hugging someone. People have different comfort levels.)

14. Ask questions. Don’t talk about yourself the whole time.

15. Don’t talk about your ex. Positive or not, it looks like you might still be hung up on this person … or bitter … or both.

16. Don’t talk about your divorce—especially a contentious one—or custody battle. You’re just learning about each other. Don’t dump all of this (often negative) information on someone you don’t know yet.

17. Treat each new person as an individual rather than comparing to other dates.


18. Try to find the positive in people.

19. Sit next to each other or catty-corner to make talking easier.

20. Give it a second chance if you’re not sure yet how you feel.

21. Start with a drink or coffee. You can always add dinner, but you can’t take it back.

22. If you want something, ask for it. If you prefer that someone calls you to confirm the next date, politely mention that. People are not mind-readers.

23. Don’t make someone prove he or she is wonderful. Assume this person is wonderful until he or she shows otherwise. Innocent until proven guilty.

24. Everyone has perceived flaws. It’s just a decision of which ones you can live with and which you can’t.

25. Most important is how someone makes you feel about yourself.


Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating.

What To Read Next
Get Local