Editor’s Note: Welcome to Seattle Dating Scene, featuring readers’ thoughts and stories about what it’s like to date in Seattle.

For our next feature, follow this promptIf you could change one thing about dating culture in Seattle, what would it be?

By Thursday, Sept. 3, please email your submissions to: dating@seattletimes.com or submit them via Instagram direct message to @dating_in_seattle, and they may be printed in a future edition of The Mix.

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COVID-19 has taken a lot away from us, but it’s also shown how important transparency can be, in order to make others around us feel comfortable and safe.

So with that in mind, what are the dos and don’ts of dating nowadays? Based on common themes I’m asked about most frequently, I broke things down into three categories of dating etiquette: conversation, attention and self-awareness. During these pandemic times, when first dates involve some level of distance and mask-wearing, it’s especially important to be conscious of how you present yourself.

Above all, remember that common courtesy, mutual respect and authenticity are all equally important when you’re trying to showcase the best side of yourself.

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To shed some light on what Seattle singles are thinking, I’ve also shared some tips from followers of my @dating_in_seattle Instagram account.

Conversation

  • Listen to understand, not to reply. Everyone has been there when someone is telling a story and your mind starts to wander. For example, a person is talking about Rome, so you immediately stop listening, and start thinking about what you are going to say next about your experiences in Rome. We can all improve our listening skills. Making sure your intention is to understand will do leaps and bounds for making your date feel appreciated. Also, DO NOT INTERRUPT.
  • It’s a two-way street. Ask follow-up questions based on what your date talks about. Learning to reciprocate in conversation is key. Be thoughtful and intentional. Don’t make it a job interview by drilling your date with nonstop questions.
  • Don’t use gossip as a bonding tool. It’s true that misery loves company, but it’s a terrible way to start a relationship. Remember to promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

Attention

  • Put your phone away. Looking at your phone too much sends your date the message that you’re not interested. Glancing at your phone or smartwatch is distasteful. Turn off your notifications, and if you must, check your messages in the bathroom.
  • Make eye contact. Your eyes can give a powerful signal. It can create a better connection and make you more honest and engaged while talking to your date. Body language like eye contact, keeping your arms uncrossed and toes pointing toward your date are all welcoming signs you may be more interested.

Self-awareness

  • You’re always responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel. We’ve all had bad days. But when you step out your door to meet your date, shake it off, take a deep breath and be present. Being transparent and letting them know you have been feeling off is great. But make sure you’re ready to give them the attention and respect they deserve.
  • Self-deprecating humor is funny when not overdone. Don’t put yourself down in order to be the butt of the joke or to make others feel better about themselves. Be proud of who you are and let others know you have confidence in yourself, it’s attractive!

Advice from followers

“Follow up. Whether it’s to ask for another date or to say, ‘Hey thanks for the date, but I didn’t feel a romantic connection.'” Tasmin, Seattle

“Just be kind, not only to your date but everyone you encounter on the date.” Cherie, Tukwila

“Offer to split the check, even if I’m going to say ‘Don’t worry, it’s my treat.’ Not offering is a big red flag.” Gonzalo, Seattle

“No phone out, be punctual, listen intently, make eye contact, ask questions” Will, Seattle

“Open the door for them. Don’t talk about exes. No politics on the first date.” Andrew, Kent

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“Go in with zero expectations. Be authentic. People can see through your performance, and keeping a facade benefits no one.” Mark, Seattle

“Make it a two-way conversation. Ask follow up questions. Be interested!” Ryley, Seattle

Here’s the monthly “Seattle Dating Scene” lineup:

  • First week: “Dating Question of the Month” — Readers respond to a dating-related question we’ve posed.
  • Second week: “Happy Anniversary, Tell Us Your Story” — Have an anniversary coming up this month? In under 500 words, tell us how you met your significant other, and send in your story and a photo.
  • Third week: “Best Date/Worst Date” — In under 250 words, tell us an anecdote from the best or worst date you’ve been on.
  • Fourth week: “Ask Marina” — Marina Resto, who runs the lively @Dating_in_Seattle Instagram account, answers reader questions about dating — or finds a special guest to answer the ones she can’t!
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