Dating can be nerve-racking because it can leave us vulnerable to potential rejection and heartache. But as with many things in life; with great risk often comes great reward, and this can be true of the dating world too. By putting ourselves out there and taking a chance with our feelings, dating opens up the possibility of finding great love and companionship in others.
So whether you’re new to the world of dating, are looking to date for the first time in a while, or have so far been unlucky in love, we’ve put together 11 dating tips that’ll hopefully help you search for a lasting relationship. We hope you find them useful.
1. Know your worth
Having a strong sense of self-worth allows us to believe in ourselves, go after what we want, and reach our full potential. None of us are born doubting or questioning ourselves, but as we move through life, certain attitudes, experiences, and expectations can impact how we see and feel about ourselves. Building self-esteem back up after a knock can feel tricky – maybe even impossible – but there are steps you can take to make it a little easier.
Knowing your worth is important for life in general, but when it comes to dating and relationships, it’s especially important in helping you to know exactly what you deserve out of a partner. Everyone is unique and has something special to offer, so we each deserve equal respect and appreciation – and it’s important not to settle for anything less.
If you’re looking for ways to rebuild your self-esteem, first think about your own attitude towards yourself. The way you perceive yourself has a direct impact on your sense of self-worth, and you’re unlikely to get anywhere if you’re constantly putting yourself down. When you find yourself having negative thoughts about yourself, first acknowledge them, and then try to challenge them with an alternative point of view. One way of doing this is by reality testing, which means reminding yourself that your thoughts are based on interpretation rather than fact. This can help to bring things back into perspective. And remember, it’s not about being egotistical; there’s a big difference between arrogance and practicing healthy self-love.
Another great way to start improving the way that you perceive yourself is to practice gratitude. Studies show that practicing gratitude can enhance positive emotions, increase self-esteem, and improve romantic relationships (to name just three out of the many benefits). You can find out more about this in our article; How practicing gratitude can lead to a happier life.
One effective way to practice gratitude and increase your sense of self-worth is through journaling. For example, consider writing down three things you like about yourself or that you’re proud of yourself for at the start or end of each day. This will give you time to draw your mind to all the great things you have to offer and that you’re grateful to yourself for – plus, you’ll have something to look back on if you ever have a moment of doubt. You can find out more about the power of journaling as a life habit here. And if you’d like somewhere to start recording your thoughts, there are plenty of gratitude journals available to buy on Amazon.
For more advice on how to boost your sense of self-worth, consider taking a look at our article 16 ways to improve your confidence and self-esteem.
2. Try to remain open-minded
A lot of us have underlying expectations about relationships and about what we’re looking for in a partner. More commonly, this is known as having a type. If you’ve classed yourself as being unlucky in love, then it can be helpful to reflect back on your dating history and ask yourself: have you only ever dated the same type of person? Many of us feel that we have a type, or at least specific attributes that we’re attracted to. However, Psychology Today has suggested that by only going after a specific type, people can significantly narrow their options and fall into a pattern of consistently pursuing people who aren’t necessarily the best match for them.
It’s natural to seek certain traits in a partner, for example, someone who’s funny or a good listener – but if your type is too specific then you risk limiting your options, and reducing your chances of finding the right person for you. So next time you have the opportunity, consider striking up a conversation with someone who isn’t your typical type and see what happens – you might be pleasantly surprised. After all, if you’ve been disappointed after going after people of a similar type so far, then what have you got to lose in taking your search for love elsewhere?
Try to keep an open mind and remember that having different interests doesn’t automatically equal incompatibility – there are plenty of perfectly happy couples who are great examples of the ‘opposites attract’ theory. You can read more about the benefits of dating people who aren’t your typical type in this article by TIME.
3. Try not to take rejection on dating apps personally
More and more people have taken their search for love online, and dating apps are now the starting place of many successful and happy relationships. They offer many benefits including connecting us with people who we would likely never meet otherwise – but they can sometimes be problematic too. Online dating platforms have added a new dimension to rejection, as people sometimes hide behind their screen and cut contact without having to provide an explanation as to why. In fact, on some dating sites you’re able to reject others with a single swipe.
While this may initially seem great (it adds efficiency to the dating process, right?), if you’ve ever been cut off by someone you thought things were going well with, then you’ll know that this can be very disheartening. Having someone cut contact with you very abruptly can leave you feeling self-conscious, while you spend time mulling over what went wrong. Due to the lack of explanation – and therefore closure – these types of rejections online can sometimes feel even harder to process than when it happens face to face.
But as difficult as it may feel, it’s important to try and not to take this kind of rejection to heart. The truth is that this kind of behaviour is a reflection of the other person, and not yourself. It reflects a certain cowardice, laziness and/or lack of respect on their part. If you think about it, rejection is often uncomfortable for people on either side of it, so unfortunately it’s no wonder that many people jump at the opportunity to avoid it altogether online.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, then try not to take it to heart, or let it knock your confidence. And most importantly, don’t let these experiences put you off dating apps altogether because they can be a great place to meet real and genuine people. It’s just best to be aware that this can happen. Try and allow any rejection experiences to make you stronger, so you’ll be ready to move onto bigger and better things.
4. Always be yourself
When we meet someone that we like and are interested in romantically, it’s normal to only want to show the best version of ourselves. Especially since, these days, the nature of online dating sites and the abundance of people signed up to them can sometimes create pressure to be perfect. In order to try and meet such unattainable standards of perfection, some people might feel they need to hide certain parts of themselves. For example, they might avoid speaking about a topic or hobby they’re passionate about for fear of being rejected.
But at the end of the day, if you’re looking to find a happy and successful relationship, it’s vital that you remain true to who you are. While it’s perfectly natural to want to show your best self to someone you’re interested in having a relationship with, you shouldn’t feel as though you need to maintain this 24/7. Otherwise, this could lead to problems further down the line, such as feeling lonely in a relationship because you can’t truly be yourself or share certain things with your partner. Remember, the right person will love you for who you are.
5. Take things slow and steady
It’s unsurprising that new relationships can sometimes pick up speed quickly, because connecting with somebody new can inspire hope and excitement at the prospect of a future together. If you have a great first date, it can be tempting to quickly become very invested in that one person as you start planning the next date, the one after that, and beyond.
This initial period of dating – often referred to as the honeymoon period – is typically filled with lots of thrill and adventure as you get to know each other. And while this time is to be enjoyed, it’s important to maintain perspective and make sure you’re not moving too fast – as the enthrallment of a honeymoon period can sometimes be infamous for clouding our judgement. You might want to read more about staying realistic during the honeymoon period in this article from Stylist.
As the name suggests, the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever, so it’s important to be sure of any decisions that you make in this initial phase of a relationship. This will help you avoid having to look back a few months down the line, and regret having fully committed yourself to a person who initially seemed great, but now you’re not so sure.
Before you take any big steps together, make sure that you’ve given it proper thought and are entirely comfortable. By taking time to slow things down, you’ll also be more likely to appreciate every new stage of your relationship, instead of rushing through.
If taking things slow is something that you struggle with, a useful tip is to try speaking to yourself as though you were a friend giving yourself advice. Observing the relationship from an outside-in perspective can help you compartmentalise your feelings and make clearer decisions based on what’s really best for you.
6. Try to take an optimistic approach
Whatever your reason for wanting to give dating a go, it’s rare not to feel nervous. Opening up to others and to the prospect of a new relationship can leave us feeling vulnerable because it opens us up to having our feelings hurt. For some people, the thought of this on its own can be enough to put them off dating altogether. But the good news is, there’s no need to put any pressure on yourself because you’re in control and dating is supposed to be fun.
Altering your mindset and taking an optimistic approach can be a powerful tool in overcoming fear. To begin with, instead of thinking about dating as a scary situation where your feelings are put at the mercy of others, try and view it instead as an exciting opportunity to connect with others and maybe even find love.
Small steps can get you a long way, so if you’re just looking to dip your toes into the dating pool, then that’s fine too. To get a taste of online dating, you could try dating sites such as Match.com, eHarmony, or Our time – or sign up to our own Rest Less dating site. These are all popular and reputable sites and while you’ll need to pay a fee to begin swapping messages with other users, you’ll be able to get a feel for the sites and the type of people that are on them for free. There’s nothing to stop you from changing your mind if you decide that it’s not for you. Testing the dating scene doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing situation.
7. Keep your priorities balanced
When you’re in a new relationship, or meet somebody that you really like, it’s natural to want to dedicate all of your time towards getting to know them. This is understandable, because the start of a new relationship is an exciting time, but it’s also important not to lose sight of everything else in your life, or push other priorities to one side. This means taking time to invest in relationships with family and friends, as well as other activities or hobbies that bring you joy. A key aspect of any healthy relationship is allowing each other the space to grow independently, as well as together.
Another reason that it’s a good idea to make time for other things in your life is that if your relationship doesn’t work out, you’ll still be a strong and independent person with a life outside of your relationship to keep you going. This will be a major factor in helping to ease the discomfort of any breakup process.
8. Try not to let past experiences hold you back
If you’ve been hurt in the past as a result of a relationship that turned sour, the thought of dating again may make you feel anxious or fearful. After all, no one wants to feel the pang of heartache again. However, a deep and fulfilling relationship requires openness and vulnerability, so if you’re still carrying wounds from your past, then it’s best to deal with these first before searching for a new partner.
To begin with, it’s important to understand that one bad relationship doesn’t dictate the same fate of any future ones you may have. However, if you’re struggling to let go of the past, there are some things you can do that might help. Consider talking through your thoughts and fears with a trusted family member or friend; often a problem shared is a problem halved and they’ll likely be able to offer you comfort and reassurance.
If you don’t have this option, you might find some useful ideas in this article from Psychology Today: Three ways to break free of your past relationship baggage. Think of it as though you’ve dressed yourself in protective armour to avoid getting hurt again. If you don’t shed that armour, the relationship you deserve may struggle to find you.
9. Avoid getting hung up on the perfect ‘how we met’ story
Dating apps have grown tremendously over the past few years and it’s now very common for couples to meet online. And with the impact of the recent pandemic, this is only expected to increase. In fact, dating app eHarmony has predicted that by 2031 just over half relationships will have started online, meaning it’ll be more common for people to meet a partner online than offline.
Nevertheless, despite their growing popularity, there’s still a stigma that sometimes surrounds dating apps and relationships that start online. Some people view the process as inauthentic or unromantic, and this can lead to a fear of judgement from relatives or other people in their social circle. This can be especially true of older generations who didn’t grow up with dating apps. This 2020 study from YouGov showed that 1 in 5 people aged 50 to 64 met their partner by chance while out and about, whereas for those aged 20 to 29 this was much more rare, with it only happening to 1 in 20 people. It’s understandable then, that the concept of online dating might just take some time to get used to.
But really, with the same end goal in sight, does it really matter how you met your partner? If you’re happy, then the judgments of others are irrelevant, so try not to get caught up on what others might think.
If you’re thinking about taking your search for love online, but are unsure where to start, you might like to have a read of our beginner guide to online dating over 50. Here you’ll find out some of the benefits of online dating, what to look out for, and some tips on how to get started.
10. Make sure you’re ready to find love again
If you’re looking to return to dating, or try it for the first time, it’s important to consider your motives. Sometimes, people look to new relationships and dating to fill certain voids in their life. This might be to cover the heartache left by a recent breakup, to escape loneliness, or to seek validation from someone else to cover self-esteem issues. But the best ground on which to build a strong and healthy relationship is one where you’re totally ready for love, and are happy in your own skin. So if you feel you need to spend more time working on yourself, remember that there’s no rush and you should always do what’s right for you.
If you’re toying with the idea of dating again but still feel unsure as to whether you’re ready, then you might find our article 8 questions to help you decide whether you’re ready to date again useful. And on the other hand, if you’re struggling to come to terms with the end of a relationship and are seeking inspiration to help you move on, then you might like to have a read of our article: How to cope with the end of a relationship. Remember, it can be a rocky road to finding love, and it’s fine to take as much time as you need.
11. Don’t shrug off red flags
It’s important to remain open minded when dating somebody new, after all, nobody’s perfect. Perhaps you don’t like how your partner leaves the dishes out on the side, or maybe they constantly leave the toilet seat up, or always forget to take their shoes off when coming into the house. But these aren’t exactly what you’d call deal breakers. Rather, these are minor issues that simply require a little discussion and compromise.
Red flags, however, relate to more concerning habits that you shouldn’t dismiss or excuse as personality traits. For example, have you been dating somebody for a while, but they still refuse to put a label on your relationship, or introduce you to any friends or family? Do you feel as though it’s only they who decide when you will or will not see each other? Or perhaps they’re always busy, but the reasons just don’t quite seem to add up. These could be red flags that you shouldn’t ignore, because they can be pre-warning signs of negative behaviour to come.
A key part of having a happy and healthy relationship is feeling appreciated, valued, and respected by your partner. So if you’re dating someone who constantly leaves you doubting yourself, then you should address it. First try talking to your partner about how you’re feeling; as they might be able to provide you with a perfectly valid explanation, which you can then work through together. But if not, remember to trust your gut; if something doesn’t feel right or isn’t quite adding up, look out for yourself, and don’t dismiss the feeling.
Dating can be nerve-racking and emotional, especially if it’s the first time trying since a previous relationship. But by staying open-minded, being yourself, and knowing what you deserve, you’ll be on the right track to seeking out a happy and lasting relationship.
Remember, love isn’t always simple and it might not happen right away – finding the right partner can take time. But when it happens, it’s often well worth the wait. For now, don’t ask too much of yourself; just sit back and enjoy the dating experience.