Starting a new relationship can be risky business. When you aren’t romantically involved and you are looking to meet someone you might be inclined to act in ways that you would otherwise think are less than rational. It is easy to get caught up in what we think is expected of us or how we think the other person wants us to act and the result can be a relationship that is built on a foundation that neither party is comfortable with over the long-term. Will that in mind, consider these simple tips as you meander down the path to dating and kissing and stuff.

Do Show Your Creative Side

One of the most commonly cited complaints about dating is the tedium of the whole enterprise. The start of every relationship involves the same basic steps. Go out to dinner, tell them about yourself, ask boring questions, go to the movies, awkwardly hug goodnight. It doesn’t have to be that way! On my first date with the woman who is now my wife we made nachos, rented the movie Shoot Em Up, and played Jaws Unleashed for Playstation 2. It should be noted that, at the time, Playstation 3 was already 2 years old. The point is, you should challenge each other’s notion of what a date should be. Have fun and think outside the box.

Don’t Overwhelm Them

While most people know that the rules you hear in movies about guy’s not calling the day after a date and similar nonsense do not apply in reality, we all also know that there is a line of pestering that must not be crossed. You don’t want to be texting each other 100 times a day, as much as you might want to. It is easy to become obsessed when you are starting a relationship, but if that happens you risk ignoring the other parts of your life that make you who you are. You also might drive the other person crazy.

Do Treat Them Like One of Your Friends

One of the easiest traps to fall into at the beginning of a relationship is being too formal and polite with the other person. If you’re dating a debutante that might be okay, but most people are pretty casual in their everyday lives. To the best of your ability, treat your new partner like another one of your friends. Joke around, poke fun at them, laugh like an idiot. You are never more yourself than you are with your closest friends and you definitely want the person you are dating to know the real you, so relax.

Don’t Overlook Red Flags

Another risk that goes along with falling into obsession is that you might choose to overlook some serious negative qualities in another person just so you can continue with your new relationship mood boost. Don’t let this happen. If you notice the other person has a temper, that they are jealous, or if they are sincerely superficial in the first stages of a relationship, that stuff will only get worse with time. Try to pay attention to who you are dating.

Do Talk About the Future

If your goal is to be with someone for a long time, they should know your long term plan. Do you want to travel after school?  Do you plan to move across the country at some point? If your life-plan poses problems for the long-term prospects of your relationship it is only fair to let the other person know. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and see what happens, but you need to be honest about your ambition.

Don’t Start Planning the Wedding

It is important not to get carried away with talking about the future. If your plan is to settle down, have kids, and live happily ever after then say so, but don’t make it seem like you want to get started immediately. It is okay to say “Yeah, I’d like to have my own family someday.” It is not okay to bring a baby naming book to a second date.

There are plenty of other common sense rules to consider at you start a new relationship, but use these 6 to get you on the right track. Just remember to have fun and be yourself.