In the following slideshow, you’ll find some of the best advice available for meeting and dating today:

Always keep a sense of humor.

Laurie Anderson/Flickr

Looking for a partner should be fun—you shouldn’t need to take yourself too seriously.

Wise words from Heather McAndrew, author of Introducing the Man of Your Dreams: From Dating to Marrying (Little, Brown, 2008). She says that if you go into a date with a set agenda, you are setting yourself up to fail.

Rather, she says, “Be playful.” Go with the flow and have fun—even the first date should be enjoyable.

Take note of the other person and let your personality shine through.

“When you’re with someone, you become the subject of everything you do,” explains McAndrew. “You laugh at their jokes, comment on the shape of their nose, and ask about their love of karaoke or soccer. It’s easy to put too much weight on yourself and forget that, in that environment, you’re an object of interest for the other person, too.”

Remember that you’re just a profile pic away from a good connection.

Be willing to try new things.

Katheryn Michael/Flickr

According to McAndrew, being adventurous is attractive.

“This is particularly true if you really like this person,” she says. “If you are out to try new things, whether it’s a restaurant you’ve never been to before or a new karaoke place, a thing about you that may be considered ordinary is turned into something exciting.”

It’s not only acceptable to try new places—it’s a good way to get to know someone, since you won’t always have the opportunity to do so.

“If you try to find love in one place and you simply don’t get it,” she explains, “You should be okay trying something different. But if you’re still not getting it, it may be time to move on to other things.”

Take an interest in what other people like and dislike.

Nick Thurburn/Flickr

“It can be fun,” says McAndrew. “If you are trying to impress the other person, that may not be the best approach.”

Instead, she says, “Be bold. Remember, the goal is to find someone who feels like a partner, not someone who finds you interesting. So
Dating is, first and foremost, about expressing who you are to someone, and this can be as easy as picking a flattering picture and/or profile from a dating site or as complex as sending a message to an intriguing persona. There’s a lot to keep in mind, and relationships take work. If you’re just getting started, read through these recommendations, and come back as you develop your strategy.

Photo by qwelty

Photo by mitrb26

Respecting The Other’s Time

Everything from the length and frequency of your interactions to what you say or don’t say depends on you. However, there is one thing you cannot compromise on: respect for the other’s time. Don’t text someone while they’re asleep, and don’t assume they’ll reply any time soon when you have a conversation in mind. Keep in mind that if they don’t respond in a reasonable amount of time, you’ll start to feel obligated to respond on their behalf, and this is pretty much a guarantee that the feeling won’t be mutual.

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Having a Conversation About The Other Person

Don’t come across as too superficial if you don’t know what you want. Think about what you like, interests, and hobbies, and tell your prospective match. Include details about yourself that aren’t common to all of your Facebook friends, and talk a little about your career—you have a career!

Remember, you can be as vague as you’d like to be about who you are or what you’re doing. You don’t have to be as detailed as you would on a job application, and, in many cases, you shouldn’t be. If you can, do what you can to get to know each other without sounding like you’re doing it on a date. If you feel you can’t get to know someone without talking about yourself, the option to get to know them without talking about yourself is up for discussion.

Being Straight With The Other Person

There’s something to be said for being up front when it comes to the other person’s expectations of you and what you want from them. If you’re meeting someone, tell them upfront how old you are, and if they’re age-appropriate, what kind of relationship you’re looking for. If you’re meeting someone online, tell them your age, what kind of relationship you’re looking for