The purpose of this guide isn’t just to make dating easy. These little tips, tricks, and tactics are designed to help you meet a handsome, funny man—or women—who might help you get over your weird weirdness, teach you how to keep your mouth shut when you are told something embarrassing, and help you break the ice with strangers—with minimal effort.

Do You Have Too Many Dating Apps?

We’ve been told for a long time that we should stop obsessing over online dating and make do with the real world. While this is absolutely true, it’s 2014, and you do have an easier time meeting people offline than you ever have in the past. Apps like Tinder and OKCupid have given us the convenience of talking to people online without the fear of rejection (if you’re looking to date, you have to put yourself out there in some way, any way). But if you find yourself joining every dating site under the sun, you might be missing out on your best shot at meeting people with whom you’re compatible.

Try meeting people in real life as a way of helping you weed out the guys who you think are perfect, but whom you just don’t think would ever talk to you on a dating app. Create a goal, and a strategy to hit it. Maybe it’s going to a First Friday art walk; maybe it’s going to an event you found out about through your sister. And if you end up meeting someone you really connect with at the event, you can say, “I found this out by attending [insert event].” But first, try to get out and meet new people in real life.

Is Technology Really That Important?

Let’s be real: you don’t have time for that crap. You need to shower, remember to wash your car, and stop watching Netflix when you have work in the morning. If technology is holding you back from meeting people—or making you feel like you’re too busy to meet them—then the answer is simple: turn it off. Apps like Grindr and Hornet make it way too easy to find people with whom you are interested in having sex, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure they can differentiate those people from the rest of the population. If you are looking to date, your phone’s location settings should be changed to Off.

And if you know someone who has a Grindr account, encourage them to turn it off, too.

Should You Share
Practice, practice, practice

You shouldn’t feel like you have to practice your seduction to the point where you’re ready for the bar scene in every romantic comedy. However, you should take some time to get out there—to meet people. A lot of people make the mistake of meeting people only by hanging out at bars, but that only gets you so far. You have to make it to every singles bar (or at least the ones in your neighborhood) and try to get a feel for how you’d do with the opposite sex. This will help you improve your conversational skills and give you the opportunity to practice flirting.

Start small

A first date can be overwhelming, but there are certain things you can start doing now to get you into the swing of things.

It’s recommended that you don’t take any pills or drink alcohol on a first date. Alcohol (and most pills) will make you feel more confident and relaxed than usual. On the other hand, they will also make you more likely to behave in ways you wouldn’t normally exhibit, such as acting aggressive or being loud.

Research both people

They say opposites attract, and it’s not entirely untrue. Try to pick a date that is similar to the kind of person you’re looking for. For instance, if you’re looking for a bad boy, try to do your best to pick a first date that’s as much like you as possible. However, avoid a date that’s too close to you—you could end up feeling smothered.

Dress the part

You should always have the best clothes you can, but remember to make sure they make you look your best. For instance, if you’re going for a nice casual date, make sure you’re wearing khaki-colored pants. If you’re going for a dressier date, avoid denim—it’s just not the best choice for a first date. When you’re trying to look more attractive, buy the right clothes to make you look your best. This can go a long way toward improving your dating experience.

Tailor your language

On a first date, try your best to let the person you’re out with know who you really are, not just what kind of person you think they want to meet. Keep in mind that first dates are generally not as formal as dates in the future. So don’t go on and on about all the stuff you did in college. Instead