Five convincing reasons to throw out the dating rule book and do things your own way…

Rule 1. Never mention your ex
Dating gurus would have us believe that mentioning an ex on a first date tantamount to suicide, sending out all the wrong signals to your prospective partner. We’d say they’re only right to a certain extent. While badmouthing your ex or making them the soul topic of the conversation is a definite no-no, cutting them out of the conversation altogether can seem unnatural and make for a very stilted conversation. Instead of holding back completely, allow yourself a passing mention or two. Your date isn’t expecting you not to have a past so if you’re talking about places you’ve travelled to for example, it’s fine to casually throw in that you were there with your ex, without causing alarm. Interestingly there are many couples who’ve ended up bonding over ex partners who’ve done them wrong too. Take your cues from the person you’re with and steer the chatter in a way that feels natural not guarded.

Rule 2: Women should never make the first move
Received wisdom says that men feel less manly when they don’t have the opportunity to play the part of predator in the dating game. We reckon this notion is about as outdated as it gets. In fact, the majority of men find it flattering as well as extremely attractive when a woman makes the first move. And for many it’s a relief not to have to do all the hard work for a change. Would you rather be a wallflower all your life or take a risk and approach the man of your dreams? Think of it this way, if he seems frightened off by your forwardness, he might not be the man for you, so there’s really nothing to lose.

Rule 3: Don’t have sex on the first date
Contrary to popular belief, a relationship is not doomed if you end up in bed together on the first date. It’s a fact that a lot of long-term loving relationships started out this way and there’s no substantive proof that a guy or girl will lose respect for you if you hop into bed too soon. A lot of people just like to get sex out of the way early on because they’d rather not waste time dating someone with whom there’s no sexual chemistry. You should never feel coerced or manipulated into sleeping with someone though. A better rule is never to do anything you don’t feel a hundred percent comfortable about doing. If you feel, ready and above all willing, then there’s no reason to deny yourself as long as you’re not assuming a full-blown relationship will naturally follow.

Rule 4: Never date a colleague
We understand why dating in the work place could be a tricky business – there’s nothing except a bad reputation to be gained by treating the office as your personal harem so you do need to exercise a little tact and be cautious. But we all know of happy couples who met at work. People in similar professions are quite often similar in personality too so it follows that they’d make excellent partnerships together. So as long as your office guidelines don’t prohbit inter-employee relationships feel free to try it. After all, think about how much time you spend with your workmates already. This gives you a distinct advantage as it makes it much easier to gauge their personality and work out what they’re like just from the way in which they interact with others and treat their fellow colleagues. If attractions form and flirtations begin, you’d be crazy not to give things a go. Providing they’re not already married of course!

Rule 5: Avoid contentious subjects politics or religion
The reason the experts advise you stick to safe conversational topics like travel and the weather is because expressing strong views on meatier issues like politics or religion could end up causing offence or even an argument. But on the flipside, isn’t it just as important to broach some of these less comfortable topics early on too? They could reveal opinions and attitudes that might end up being deal breakers further down the line. Conversely, you might both find that you’re both passionate about something and that could be what brings you closer together.