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The Facebook Dating Project has taken me on some interesting blind dates, and I’ve been on enough to offer some concrete dos and don’ts for men and women. My first dates have ranged from sporting events to afternoon drinks to unfortunate booze fests. Here’s what each of them taught me.

Keep it to two hours or less. If you’ve never laid eyes on the person, then there’s no need to pursue a relationship on the first date. You’ll know within 30 minutes whether or not you want to see this person again. If you’re having a great time, you’ll both want more and a relationship can unfold. If you’re having a terrible time, be out in an hour — no harm, no foul. My ex-boyfriend and I had a phenomenal first date. We never stopped talking, and I wanted to make out with him in the middle of the Farmer’s Market. But I was having dinner with my cousins so I had to go. He called the next day and asked me to dinner.

Don’t spend a fortune. I have an adorable single guy friend who felt it was his duty to take a woman out to dinner on the first date. But sometimes he did that three nights a week — on an assistant’s salary. There’s no need to sit through, or pay for, a meal on a blind date. Coffee or drinks at a bar are far less expensive. Or do an activity for free. Go on a hike, see an art exhibit, or better yet, volunteer. If you’re digging it — get coffee afterwards. The bottom line is this: If you’re on the dating scene, you’re going to be dating often. It doesn’t have to burn a hole in your wallet — especially if you’re never going to see this person again.

Stand out. I went on a date last week via the Facebook Dating Project and he had a great idea. He wrote in an e-mail, “We each have to bring an item stolen from work (something inexpensive no one will miss) and give it to the other person.” I thought that was hilarious and unique, so I spent three days trying to come up with something funny. (I ended up with a spilled box of individually wrapped Ethernet cables. Unfortunately, my date left his at home and bought pencils and erasers in Japanese packaging). This was a great, fun, and free way to get to know me. And it had me guessing in advance.

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Don’t get wasted. It seems so simple, but this is a tough one. Say you’re having an amazing time and you’re talking and losing track of time — two hours just came and went like that — and you just keep ordering. OK, so some of us screw up and hook up the first date. I’ve done it twice and (shocker) they never turned into relationships. The guy can’t follow his natural chase instinct when you’ve given it all away upfront. If you’ve turned a one-night stand into marriage, I’d love to hear your miraculous story. In my case, both these guys said, “You’re really cool, can we just hang out and be friends?” But no, no we can’t.

Have fun. For God’s sake, if you’re single and going through endless set-ups like I’m subjecting myself to, have a good time. In the end, this is about meeting new people, expanding your network, practicing your dating (aka sales) skills, and hopefully one day finding Mr. or Mrs. Right.

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