Ever since I was a kid, I have been trained to believe the process of dating was an essential part of getting to know someone, and certainly the precursor to relationships and sex. As I got older, I realized that early relationships were about exploring each other’s bodies, fumbling around in dark, parked cars and praying not to get caught by the cops. Once I got to college, the remains of the childhood fairytale of dating had been dashed and replaced by drunken hookups coupled with forgotten names and awkward sober run-ins on campus. Alas, it is our generation that has witnessed the death of the age-old tradition of dating. However, if you’re down for more than just sloppy sex with forgettable faces, there are ways to turn dating from an ancient ritual into a common practice in your life – and let’s face it, emotional fulfillment aside, the sex is just better when it’s with someone you like. End of story.

First of all, if you’re interested in dating someone, it is imperative to let them know. Say you hit it off with someone and you decide to take them home to do the horizontal tango. Many people believe that sleeping with someone the first night kills any chance of a future, but I think it is less about what you do physically and more about how you choose to carry and portray yourself overall. I have slept with guys on the first night who have ended up becoming my boyfriends. I have also held out for guys who have ended up blowing me off, leaving me with no sex and no relationship – what gives? If you sleep with someone you feel a real connection with, do not awkwardly sneak out in the morning. Suck up whatever embarrassment you may feel and casually let them know that it would be cool to hang out again. If they get weird, then it’s their loss. You don’t want to be fucking someone who won’t take you out in public anyway. If you never express yourself any differently, the people you fool around with will naturally assume you’re down for late-night drunken sex, and most certainly take advantage of that situation and ball you up only after a night of heavy drinking, never to catch a movie or a nice dinner.

Next, you need to follow a few date rules so you do not blow your situation and never have a date again. Ladies, you must always offer to pay for at least half of dinner. We’re all in the same broke-ass situation of living on ramen noodles and spending every dime we have on drinking at bars, and guys should not be expected to constantly foot the bill. That said, guys you must never let a girl pay for the first date. Dating and chivalry may be dead, but that’s not to say that they cannot be revived and make a significant comeback. Plus, it is a little known fact that good food is not only the way to a man’s heart, but also to a girl’s panties.

However, dates do not have to max out your credit card – going to dinner in Isla Vista certainly counts as a date, as long as it is not Freebirds at three a.m. and you “accidentally” forgot your wallet and needed to borrow some money for those delicious nachos. Grabbing a bite to eat, even casually, can allow two people to get to know each other in a sober setting and determine whether or not the chemistry is there. Once you start dating someone, it is important to take your significant other downtown for a nice date at least every once in a while. It is certainly permissible to make this date on a Thursday night, so that drinking at dinner may simultaneously be classified as pre-drinking before hitting up the bars. My personal favorite Thursday date is now dinner and comedy night at Bricks CafŽ on State Street. Good food, good drinks and slapstick humor sets the perfect tone for a night downtown. Plus, getting heckled together forces you to band together, acting as a bonding experience.

The death of dating does not have to be a permanent installment in our generation. Take a chance on dating someone, and you may find a situation where your partner won’t be the only thing that came out of nowhere.