I’m about to turn 25, and turning a quarter of a century is a big birthday that causes a ton of self­ reflecting. Reaching this milestone means I have a little bit of wisdom when it comes to dating and relationships.

Like most 25 year olds in this day and age, I am unmarried. I have, however, experienced my fair share of dates, hookups, bad first impressions, nasty breakups, and everything else in between. Over the years, I have acquired some good experiences on top of the not so great ones – and I can without a doubt say I have learned from them all.

Here are some of the dating do’s and don’ts I’ve learned in my mere 24 years.

“Do”s:

1. Do play the field. While you’re still casually dating, explore all other prospects. This will only make you more confident in your decision when you decide to settle down with ‘the one’.

2. Do make sure you’re happy with yourself before starting a relationship. This is the most common piece of advice you’ll hear when it comes to dating. Unhappy people have negative energy, which over time will seep into the relationship. Be in a good place mentally, spiritually and emotionally before sharing your life with someone.

3. Do be picky. You know what you like and who your type is better than anyone else (short, tall, active, intellectual, etc). This will help you hone in on the ones who catch your eye and are worth your time. Being picky isn’t a bad thing.

4. Do let go of the stigma of promiscuity. I was always told to wait until marriage to have sex. However, I was never the super traditional type and I was often rebellious to say the least. Honestly, those one night stands and the flings were some of the best sex I have ever had. As long as there is respect and a mutual consensus who cares about labels?

5. Do focus on the other person. Listen to them and find out about what makes them tick, rather than going on and on about yourself.

6. Do practice good manners. It goes back to what your mother taught you: say thank you and you’re welcome. Being polite and courteous will always go a long way.

7. Do accept rejection. Just because it didn’t work out with one person doesn’t mean it won’t with another. It’s hard not to take things personally and blame ourselves. Just remember there is someone else out there for you, you just haven’t found them yet.

8. Do exude confidence. This means knowing yourself. Keep conversation upbeat and stimulating, and don’t make it one-sided where you come off self obsessed. When we are self-assured we don’t need reassurance from anyone else and that’s attractive.

9. Do eat what you want. Nothing is worse than going on a date an ordering a salad when you really want a burger. A guy appreciates a girl who can eat. But men please don’t pig out. Also if you want dessert – order it. You deserve it!

10. Do have fun. Don’t take dating so seriously. Make out with a stranger, go dance with the guy who’s been making eyes at you, or enjoy some scandalous sexting. The more fun you have the more confidence you’ll exude.

11. Do strive for honesty. Be honest and upfront about who you are and what you’re looking for. What if that first date leads to something serious, and you started it with lies? Now you’re having to work your way out of the lies you told to make yourself come off better. If you weren’t a straight A student, or an Olympic athlete, no one cares. Be you!

12. Do stay classy. Save the low­cut shirts and tight, short skirts for another night. You want the person to get to know you, without getting too distracted.

“Don’ts”

13. Don’t come on too strong. Watch yourself for behaviors that could come off as needy, clingy, desperate, unstable, or otherwise undesirable.

14. Don’t settle. When we settle, it’s usually because somewhere deep down, we believe what we want is unattainable. But the only way to discover whether it is attainable is to commit to finding it — and to believe you deserve it. So if the person you’re with doesn’t feel or seem right you’re probably onto something. Listen to the gut instinct. Don’t waste your time on someone who will cut it or is tolerable – you deserve so much more.

15. Don’t rearrange your plans for a date. You have a life of your own – keep it that way. If the person you’re with can’t understand that, they’re not for you.

16. Don’t keep checking your phone. This shows total lack of interest and disrespect to the conversation. If you check your phone you are clearly saying that your phone is more important than the person sitting in front of you. Prepare to not hear from them again.

17. Don’t get back together with an ex. There are some exceptions to this. I’ve known of couples who have broken up and run into each other years later and gotten back together. This is a rare occasion though. In general, getting back together with an ex erases the hard work you’ve done getting over them and usually leads in another heartbreak. 18. Don’t discuss past relationships. This subject can be mentioned and referenced but not elaborated on. Nobody wants to hear how much you loved your ex and how wonderful your life was with them. They are an ex for a reason. If you find yourself in this situation politely escort yourself home.

19. Don’t online-­stalk someone you are dating. If you met someone online don’t constantly check the last time they signed on and were online. It will drive you crazy and it’s not healthy. Facebook creeping is the worst – looking at old photos of exes is bound to cause jealousy issues right away. Focus on the two of you. If you’re worried down the road talk about it before jumping to conclusions.

20. Don’t hook up with the guy your friend likes. This is the cardinal #1 girl code rule. You just don’t do it (unless permission has been given or you want to lose that friend all together).

21. Don’t overstay your welcome. Nothing is worse than staying over at your partner’s house and not knowing when to leave in the morning, or not leaving at all. Even if you don’t have plans for the day – no one likes someone who lingers.

22. Don’t invade someone’s personal space. You may be reading the signs wrong, or it’s simply just too early to be touchy-­feely. Keep your hands to yourself until it’s clear to invade someone else’s personal space. The same goes for blowing up their phone. Just give them space.

23. Don’t be too serious all the time. The more invested you become with someone, the more serious topics will arise. Early on, it’s important to keep the conversation light and breezy. Ask about hobbies and passions rather than taboo subjects like religion, politics, or money.

24. Don’t go dutch. This is a touchy subject in today’s society. However, we still think chivalry isn’t dead and the guy should front the bill the first few dates. If you want to treat and show him a good time by all means ladies pay the bill! If he wants to pay, let him. Don’t emasculate him.

25. Don’t drink too much. Everyone thinks they’re more fun, charming, and better looking when they’ve had a bit to drink. In reality, they’re not. Chances are you’re just coming off as trashy and not put-­together. Don’t hide behind a cocktail glass – let your date see the real you.