Here, we’ll walk you through a variety of methods you can use to get started on the right foot, from the food you bring to that first date (and the first date itself), to Internet etiquette, and everything in between.

We’re focusing primarily on people who want to date or are looking for love, but if you’re just looking for a good time, check out our list of other awesome ways to get off the dating grid.

Get to know your dinner guest/date. This may seem silly, but if you want to make your date feel comfortable, keep in mind that they have just as much to feel comfortable about as you do. Get to know your date. Ask them a little about themselves. Ask them about the date itself, things they love about each other, and if you’re really good at it, ask them about the other people in your life who you know they really like.

The more you get to know a person, the more you will show interest in them and the more they will feel comfortable with you. Plus, if you choose not to go on a second date after the first, it’s generally nice to know a little more about your date before you part ways.

Check your manners. It’s a given that some people have no manners, but when you are out on a date you want to at least appear to be aware of how you’re coming off. If you’re on a date that could be a first date, put on your best side—don’t make a joke about anything that could be misconstrued as a bomb and don’t be too loud. Keep your voice down and you can even turn down the music if you’re the type to make a lot of noise.

Whether it’s your first date or you want to ensure you have a good time, you’ll want to check the following:

– Remember to introduce yourself. Whether you know the other person personally or not, saying hi can be a great icebreaker.

– Arrive at the date on time. Even if you have extra time to kill, it’s good to show respect for the other person and arrive on time.

– Don’t leave the conversation. If there is an extended silence, don’t assume the other person is boring you. Ask questions or say something funny or interesting, so the other person doesn’t feel left out.

– Don’t drink and drive. It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law
The following is a guest post by Jessica Treadway, a marketing strategist and dating coach who helps clients navigate the sometimes-messy world of modern dating. She wants to be clear: this post isn’t meant to push you into a relationship against your will, nor is it an all-encompassing guide to your dating life. We just wanted to offer some valuable tools to help you navigate the dating world a little more confidently.

How to make the most out of your dating experiences

1. Learn to love yourself.

You can’t learn anything else if you don’t know where you fit in the grand scheme of things.

2. Be honest with people in your life.

What you hear can be just as important as what you see. It’s all about paying attention.

3. Don’t wait to learn as you go along.

Don’t wait to take risks or to learn. We all experience things differently, so don’t wait to learn something about yourself or about others.

4. Be authentic.

There are going to be situations where you have to choose between who you want to be and what you want to be. Every relationship has a story.

5. Treat dating like a business.

Plan out what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. What you and your date are about to do is a business transaction.

6. Start out friendly and open-minded.

Open-minded people are more fun to be around and to learn from, and they’re also more fun to date.

7. Don’t overthink a relationship too much.

And if you do, try less often!

8. Be patient.

As boring as this sounds, the truth is that getting to know someone takes time. If you’re really taking time, a lot of it will be done in the background.

9. Have fun.

Let it all hang out. Have fun!

10. Feel free to overshare.

What you’re doing in a relationship with someone new can be some of the best therapy you’ll ever have, and it’s a whole lot easier than having therapy.

Do these things and you’ll find that the dating world is less intimidating. You’ll also find that you’re a lot more comfortable being yourself, which makes it easier to be approachable and to make yourself more approachable.