We all like to put our best foot forward while dating. But as we all know, our foot tends to go in our mouth more than it does any place else. There are some common mistakes guys and gals make while courtin’. Below are bits of advice from our freelance writers who have played the dating game—some more successfully than others.

Don’t ever assume anything about your date. “As a man, never assume the woman you are dating has any interest in the things that interest you,” Carey said. “Talk to her. Find out who she is, what SHE likes. I remember once, having asked this young woman out, I assumed she would enjoy the same smoke-filled blues clubs that I enjoyed. The resulting evening was no one’s fault but my own. She was miserable, I was miserable. There was no second date. I asked my next date where she’d like to go.”

Don’t accept invitations from someone you aren’t attracted to. Anne found this out the hard way on a date with a guy she wasn’t interested in. “A sweet southern gentleman, he took me out for a nice dinner, asked the typical first date questions (i.e. where did you grow up? siblings? favorite color?),” Anne said. “And all seemed to be going well, though I wasn’t into him, really. Then he switched from normal-guy mode into ‘I’m ready for a wife’ mode. For the rest of the date, I felt like he was gauging my soon-to-be-wife potential, with questions about how well I can cook, how many babies I want and when, et cetera. It got so intense that I had to bluntly tell him I was not interested in being his wife. Ouch. I wish I had waited until after he paid the check until I admitted this; I ended up paying for my half. Oh well. Lesson learned.”

Give yourself plenty of time to get ready. Margaret said her mistake was “not leaving enough time to get ready so I had the right-out-of-the-shower look. Upside was he got to see the ‘real’ me. Downside is the same.” Although your date will never be able to tell if you just got out of the shower or if you’ve been getting ready for three hours, you know the difference. When you feel good, it shows. Feel comfortable on your date.

Keep the compliments honest and simple. Dan said, “I once wanted to tell a girl she looked very cute and like a pixie with her shortly-cropped haircut. She had a cute button nose and big doe eyes. But what came out was, ‘Hey! You look like an elf!’ As John Mayer says, ‘My stupid mouth…’”

Use spiritual wisdom in your dating relationships. Think about the effects of dating a person who does not share your beliefs. Jesse shared his story: “I met a girl and totally fell for her, but she wasn’t a Christian. Eventually, she did give her life to the Lord, so we began dating regularly. Unfortunately though, it was a bad relationship almost from the start. It was just a bad mix. As our relationship quickly deteriorated, so did her walk with God. I basically realized that her faith was strongly connected to me. As I moved away from her and exited her life, her faith did as well. My advice is to meet someone who knows who they are and who is already walking with God before you meet them and then go from there. I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions, because I’ve heard tons of stories. But from my personal experience, it brings more damage than it does good. Keep things in line. If you really love the other person, encourage them in their walk with God. Don’t be selfish and screw things up just because you want a boyfriend or girlfriend and think they’re cool. Help set the stage for them to encounter God.”

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