You aced Dating 101. Yeah, you got game. Game enough to flirt your way into some digits. Game enough to dial those digits to get a date. And game enough to go on a date and not royally eff it up. Well now it’s time to step your game up … time for the advanced course in dating: Dating 201. Your professor: me, Tristan Coopersmith, author of the book MENu Dating: Taste Test Your Way to the Main Course, with some tips from my book.



1) Seriously, you need to shut up on your first few dates. Taboo topics include: soulmates/destiny/fate, upcoming weddings you are going to, ex-boyfriends/ex-girlfriends/number of people you’ve slept with.



2) Your padded bra will eventually come off so don’t bother wearing one. Don’t waste time chameleoning yourself into what you think your date wants you to be (i.e. pretending to like “Jersey Shore,” listening to Lil Wayne even though you live for Carrie Underwood). Instead of trying to be what you think they want you to be, play up who you already are.



3) A kiss is NOT first base. Face it, you’ve graduated high school so it is time to graduate your sexual game and mature daters don’t think of a kiss as first base, they think of it as the home run. That means taking your time.



4)
Scout outside the bar. Sure it’s easy to hookup at a bar. Drinks are flowing, inhibitions are loosened, rides leave people abandoned and desperate for shelter. But, there are plenty of other places to meet single somebodies – chemistry can spark anywhere from the laundromat to the car wash, the coffee shop to yoga class.



5)
Awesome attracts awesome. So, you need to go get an awesome life. Spend time making you as awesome as you can be – create a life you love because after all, a mate should be a complement to an already great life, not a solution to a broken one. And on dates, be sure to focus on the positive – no one wants to hear how your boss sucks, your roommate sucks or how your professor can suck it.



6)
Surprise! Guys eyes roll: when you wear the wrong shoes! Yes, heels are hot. However, there are occasions when it’s unacceptable to wear them no matter how fabulous, expensive or new they may be, such as dog parks, protests and sporting events.



7)
Surprise! Girls eyes roll: when you DON’T try to put the “moves” on her! Sure, they may push you away, give you the “I’m not that kind of girl” speech, or tease you til you need a cold shower, but try nothing and you are seriously screwed (and not in the good way).



8) Cooking for your date? Stir in one of these uncommon aphrodisiacs to elevate the mood in a way less cliché than popping in an Usher CD: olives, asparagus, almonds, avocados, bananas, pomegranates, saffron and agave.



9)
Shop for a good time, not a husband/wifey. The quickest way to not get another date is to start running to the altar. In the beginning, you have to live in the moment to keep your sanity and your potential future intact.



10) First impression dos: self-confidence, showing neck and shoulders (for the ladies), eye contact, genuine smile, balanced conversation, being nice to the wait staff, offering to pay (ladies), not letting her pay (guys).



11) First impression don’ts: using your cell, forced laugh, getting fall-down drunk, showing too much skin.



12)
Try something creative for your date like chocolate tasting or dressing up at a thrift shop.



13) Falling in like and in love (and sometimes into bed) is one fabulously flawed process. Like the weather and hair days, expecting everything to always be perfect sets you up for disappointment. Instead, approach dating as a journey of self-discovery filled with lots of highs and a few necessary lows (otherwise known as growing pains) too.



14) Got first date jitters? Remember that you make moments as awkward as they are going to be. Think of your date as a friend you’ve had forever instead of like an interview.