By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
At one point, as a single woman, you likely met a handsome, charming guy on summer vacation. Then, when he asked you out, you had this debate in your head: He's cute. But I know zip about him. And that Natalee Holloway case really freaks me out. He's just so charming. And kinda looks like Brad Pitt. But, really, he could be a total creep. Decisions... decisions...
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To make sure we all play it safe this summer, we're going to follow these rules from Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (a.k.a. Dr. Romance), psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again. You should too.
1. Don't get hammered. On the more obvious--but ALWAYS worth repeating--side: Don't have more than a couple of drinks and don't do drugs. Good judgment is the most crucial thing you have going for you when you're going out with a guy for the first time... especially one whom you know nothing about. (OK, done lecturing).
2. Bring a friend along. Tell him you'll go, but only if your friend comes too. If it goes well and you and your pal both get a good vibe, then it's OK to consider a second solo-style date.
3. Go someplace safe. If you're in a foreign country, pay attention to the cultural rules. Do research in advance and don't let your date take you to seedy areas of town. You don't want to become a headline: "Girl lets her hair down on Thailand and winds up a sex slave--or in prison!" It sounds really alarmist and Debbie Downer-ish, but you can't be too careful in this respect.
4. Know your emotional limits. "If you're not the fling type, you'll just get yourself deeply hurt if you get involved with someone who's going to be gone when the vacation is over," says Tessina. "On the other hand, if you can have a fling and just be left with nostalgia, it could make a lovely memory."
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5. Don't look at yourself through your date's eyes. "No matter how excited, turned on, or thrilled you may be, listening to what he says, watching what he does, and understanding how he feels should be your primary objectives," says Tessina. "What your date thinks of you is not your business--your business is what you think of your date. If you spend your time trying to look at yourself through your date's eyes, guessing what he is seeing when he is looking at you, or hearing when listening to you, you'll miss what's really happening. You're supposed to be evaluating this guy, not evaluating yourself from his point of view. Pay attention so you know what YOU think of your date."
6. Look for integrity. "Anyone can talk big. Actually, some of the best people don't present themselves well. Don't overlook someone who is not gorgeous, charming and glib, but has all the qualities you really need in a partner."
7. Be very consistent and careful about your sexual safety. This may sound obvious, but it's less easy to acknowledge in the heat of the moment. No. Unprotected. Sex. Ever. Plenty of nice guys have STDs.
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8. Know the signs of emotional blackmail. Avoid guys who "demand" instead of "ask," who turn every discussion into a debate, or who put uncomfortable pressure on you.
Have you ever had a successful--or not so successful--summer vacay fling?
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Photo Credit: Condé Nast Digital Studio