The Valentine's hiccup
The problem? He's shown up with a heart-covered card and a bunch of red roses. You've shown up empty-handed.
The solution: Be grateful, not guilty. 'Show your genuine excitement and appreciation for the flowers and card,' says life coach Olga Levancuka. 'There's no need to apologise for not getting him anything. He may try to make you feel better by offering you the chance to get him something later – and then it can get awkward if you don't feel you should get him anything. Always be honest about your feelings.'
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'It's me – or the cat'
The problem? He's come to your home for the first time – and it soon becomes clear that your new partner and your pet have taken an instant dislike to one another.
The solution: Give it time. 'This is a hard one,' admits Levancuka. 'Pet-owners can have strong feelings about the way others react to their pets – but it's important to establish the reason why they're not getting along. If he suffers from an allergy, that's one thing. But if time progresses and he really can't respect something that's so important to you, you may have to ask whether he'll truly be able to love you and understand your priorities.'
Find out about the relationship red flags to beware of
The mutual acquaintance
The problem? In the course of general chitchat, you realise you have a mutual 'friend' who one of you likes and the other one can't stand.
The solution: Move the conversation on. 'It's so tempting to get caught up in an argument, trying to prove why your opinion is the right one,' says Levancuka. 'Stop and rewind: this isn't about anyone but you two. So put it to one side, change the subject and focus on getting to know each other better instead of arguing about other people.'
The miscalculated lunge
The problem? At the end of a lovely evening, he moves in for a 'proper' kiss just as you offer him your cheek.
The solution: Don't be embarrassed – and follow your heart. 'If you've enjoyed the date and want to see him again, of course it's fine to communicate this with a little kiss,' says dating coach James Preece. 'But if you aren't ready for a full-on kiss, just say so. Don't make a big deal out of it. Simply tell him you like him, but want to take things slowly. If he genuinely likes you, he'll accept and understand this.'
Somebody mentioned Brexit
The problem? You discover you disagree over Brexit – and you're wondering if you're ever going to be able to move past this.
The solution: Agree to disagree – for now. 'Politics is often a touchy subject in relationships, but it doesn't mean things won't work out,' advises Preece. 'Rather than argue, respect the fact you both have your own opinion. In the early days, it's always best to keep to lighter, positive topics anyway. If you talk about fun things, he'll associate you with them. So save the deeper chats for further down the line.'
Find out about the five things you should never ask on a first date
The great bill-dividing dilemma
The problem? He suggested the restaurant for your first date and it's gone really well – but the bill's been sitting in the middle of the table untouched for some time now...
The solution: Wait it out. 'Once he's – literally – picked up the bill to take a look at it, you can offer to go halves, but don't jump to get your purse out,' advises dating coach Jo Barnett. 'If he suggested the venue and booked it, let him treat you this time. Say “thank you” and move on.'
'No – let me get this...'
The problem? He insists on paying for everything all of the time – which was nice at first...
The solution: Get the balance right. 'If a man insists on treating you, he's demonstrating he's willing to look after you,' says Preece. 'But if it continues, you might start to feel more like a commodity than a person. The easiest way round this is to insist you want to treat him for a change. Arrange something you know he'd like as a surprise. This makes it clear you love spending time with him, but you're equal partners.'
The unscheduled interruption
The problem? You're on an early-days date when an old friend walks into the venue and clearly wants to be introduced and find out what you're up to.
The solution: Show who's in control. 'You can introduce your date by his first name and leave it at that,' says Barnett. 'If you need to excuse yourself, just give a big smile and say something along the lines of, “Lovely to see you but I must get back to my friend now – take care”. Be strong and assertive then switch your attention back to your date. People are nosey, but only until you take control of the situation.'
'That's lovely, Dave... I mean Steve'
The problem? You've just accidentally called him by your ex's name during an otherwise-perfect night out.
The solution: Laugh it off. 'Remember, you're only human – and these things happen,' Barnett reassures us. 'I would laugh, apologise, call him by his correct name and maybe jokingly put it down to “brain freeze”. He won't mind, and may well do something similar himself at some point. Never be embarrassed about this kind of thing. Your date will feel more comfortable if he knows you're not perfect and can laugh at yourself.'
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