Dating is the most important part of getting to know a potential mate; unfortunately, it can often be the most awkward. As a pivotal point in your budding relationship, you want it to go as smoothly as possible. What do you need to avoid?

What not to do/say:

1. Don’t talk about your ex
If there is one definitive rule on a date it is not to talk about past relationships. “My ex is a raging psycho who wants to kill me.” Even if this is true, don\’t share this on the first date. Unless you absolutely do not want to have another date with this person, avoid this as best you can. If asked about your ex, get off the subject as quickly and nicely as possible.

2. Don\’t admire yourself in the mirror
Double check your look before you leave, but your love affair with the mirror when out with a date is just plain creepy. Certainly, check the mirror to make sure you haven\’t got broccoli between your teeth, but if you can\’t get enough of yourself in the mirror, chances are your date quickly will.

3. How many sexual partners have you had?
This question sometimes comes up between the newly-dating. If this comes up, it will probably make your date uncomfortable, and it\’s doubtful you will like the answer.

4. “My boss sucks, my job sucks, my life sucks, etc”
If you\’re having that bad of a day, cancel the date. If you naturally complain a lot, work on that; it is a turn-off to the opposite sex.

5. Avoid religion and politics
Stay away from serious subjects early in dating. Keep it light. As you get to know each other\’s positions on religion and politics, these may end up being topics of common ground or friendly debate, but until you know, don\’t go there.

6. “My child/pet is the smartest. My child/pet is the best?”
Go easy on the kid/pet stories. Unless your date talks as much about their child or pet (even better if it\’s the same species), you should keep to the facts and leave the feelings out of it. Otherwise you\’ll be telling proud-parent stories all night.

7. “What kind of books do I read? Umm…”
If asked, your date probably likes to read. Better to say you\’ve been too busy lately and haven\’t had time to devote to reading. Or be honest but try to suggest some other intellectual or similar activity you enjoy.

8. Don’t talk about just yourself
A date is the getting-to-know-you and not a getting-to-know-you-and-only-you phase. Conversations must be a two-way street, a mutual exchange of stories, ideas and feelings to discover common ground. Conversation is a way for you to know if you and your date click. And, if you talk nonstop about yourself, your hobbies, your likes, they’ll end up getting bored and, worse – hating you and the date.

9. Don\’t answer your cell phone
If you are on a date it is pretty rude to pick up your phone unless it\’s for one of the following reasons: A. you pick up to say you\’ll call back later, or B. its your babysitter and there\’s an emergency having to do with your kids. It\’s best to leave the sitter the restaurant\’s (or wherever you\’ll be) phone number and turn your phone off. That\’s what voicemail is for.

10. How much money do you make?
Ask about salary and you will be thought of as a gold digger or a free-loader. And it will be very hard to change that label once it\’s there. Also, it\’s just plain rude to ask. It\’s nobody\’s business and will likely come up as the relationship grows.

There are many more dos and don\’ts, some specific to men, and others to women. To be on the safe side, don\’t do or ask anything you would not want your dating partner to do or ask.