Apologies to Dickens.

But it feels right. These days, I don’t make dating the scary, life-consuming chore it used to be. I’ve come to a point in my almost-40 years in which I’ve finally made myself a priority and have lightened up on the whole idea of meeting a “soul mate.”  So, even if it’s the worst of dates, I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything. There’s always something you can learn from these experiences, even if it’s to not take everything so damned seriously. And this applies whether you’re like me and not looking for The One or if you’re ready to throw the bouquet/garter at your beautiful, perfect wedding.

In fact, simplifying your expectations on a first (or even second, third, and fourth) date is the key to putting the fun back into dating. It really is. Think about it: if you constantly have a serious end-goal in mind, you will most likely be disappointed. So, right here, right now, start managing your expectations. Zero in on one. And I mean a simple one. Here are some examples:

  • Make a new friend.
  • Practice my eye contact.
  • Work on not saying “um” or “like” after every word.
  • Enjoy the movie/dinner/alligator wrestling/whatever the date entails

Or, if you’re my girlfriends and me who made a fun little pact at the beginning of 2013 when we jumped on the dating sites:  get a free meal. Sure, it’s a little sexist — and I mean, who knows who pays the bill these days (we’re in the Wild West era of paying-the-bill, people!) — but it’s a low expectation we could have fun with.

What will yours be tonight?