I’ve gone on a lot of dates in my life. Day dates, night dates, day-to-night dates. Lunch dates, drinks dates, dinner dates, late-night dates, so-late-you’re-really-hard-pressed-to-call-it-a-date dates. Blind dates, legally blind dates and blind-drunk dates. Plain dates, fancy dates, dates with bacon-wrapped dates and dates with just bacon when I couldn’t bear to go on another date. Not that there weren’t a few good ones in there, but in general I’ve amassed a decent amount of knowledge about bad dates. And it’s only fair that I pass this information on so you don’t make the same mistakes as my ill-fated suitors. In short, don’t be any of the following guys.

Don’t be the guy who overshares. Don’t tell me before the appetizers arrive that you hate your parents “but of course appreciate” that they created you and so you “throw them a bone on Christmas.” And don’t be the cheap guy who invites me to order an entrée of equal or lesser value to yours because you have a coupon. Don’t come off as scarily close to your family and bring your sister on the first date (or the second through fifth dates), and definitely don’t tell me you share jeans with her. Don’t get intense and say you want to put a baby in me. Don’t say I have “baby-making” hips. Don’t tell me what you want to name your future babies. (Robot and Dead are the names one guy told me he was saving for his first- and second-born.) Don’t be the overeager guy who tells me he’s “randy, baby” or quote any Austin Powers movie no matter how randy you are, baby. Don’t be the weird guy who insists aliens are coming to Earth and could be at the very gastropub we’re eating in (apparently aliens like small plates). Don’t be the criminally weird guy and talk about how you “would have gotten away with it” in regard to any crime. Don’t talk about a crime you shouldn’t have gotten away with: “We just drove across the border with a garbage bag full of weed!” Don’t be religiously weird and talk for two hours straight about Buddhism and how it has really grounded you, then get into your Jag. Don’t be weird weird and tell me your three loves are (1) God, (2) family and (3) your cats (and I’m a cat person). Don’t at any point during our first meeting declare a thumb war. And don’t be the guy who talks about not wanting to be that guy but is 100 percent that guy.

As a rule, just don’t be that guy who’s weird about family, women, money, religion, sex, politics, pets or thumb wars. Okay. I know I sound a little bitchy, right? Don’t do this, don’t do that. But maybe I should be more specific. Don’t be that guy…at least not right away. I cringe when I think about some of the things men have told me on dates or even in texts leading up to dates (some things even an emoji can’t make better). But the truth is, we all have bad/weird quirks. We’re all that guy or that girl on some level. I’m that girl who will try any weird spiritual stuff at least once and went to a past-life-regression therapist. (I experienced rebirth in a crappy studio apartment in West Hollywood.) And I’m that girl who’s obsessed with her pets and once owned a stroller for her cat. It’s endearing to my guy now, but I think if I’d rolled out that rebirth story or my actual cat on our first date, I’d be in his dating graveyard right now, next to That Girl Who Adopts Every Stray Animal She Sees and That Girl Who’s Always on a Strange Diet.

I’m not advocating that you hide who you are; I’m just suggesting that you delay revealing it. I know that coupon might be burning a hole in your pocket, but if you must use it, use it on a friend of equal or lesser value. Because when a girl meets a guy, she’s looking for reasons to say no. Too jerky. Too nice. Too emotional. Too unemotional. Too into games. Too into Game of Thrones. Too into thrones. (Hey, that could happen in Europe.) It’s like taking one of those eye tests where you hit the button every time you see something appear. We’re waiting with our little buzzers, ready to identify any warning signs. But once we’re in, we’re looking to say yes. The things that might initially have been arm-hair-raising, like you waxing your arm hair, are now cute, funny things I’ve discovered about you. Maybe you do hate your parents, but let me hate your parents first, and then maybe we can hate them together. Wouldn’t that be more fun? Let me learn over time that you pee in your sink to save water and masturbate to Gilligan’s Island reruns. I will buy you all the Mrs. Howell paraphernalia I can find on eBay, as long as I get to discover your weirdness. Rest assured we can all eventually be that girl or that guy in our relationship, but my advice is to keep your weirdness tucked in for at least a little while. And when the time is right, you can let it all hang out of those jeans you share with your sister.