Dating can be nerve-wracking. It leaves us vulnerable to the possibility of rejection and heartache, which is enough to put some people off. But like most things in life; with great risk often comes great reward.
By putting yourself out there and taking a chance with your feelings, dating opens up the possibility of finding great love and companionship.
So, whether you’re new to the world of dating, looking to date for the first time in a while, or have just been unlucky in love so far, we’ve put together 11 dating tips that’ll hopefully help in your search for a lasting relationship.
1. Know your worth
Having a strong sense of self-worth is what allows us to believe in ourselves, go after what we want, and ultimately 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 perceive ourselves.
While knowing your worth is important for life in general, it’s especially key in helping you to know exactly what you deserve out of a partner. Everyone is unique and has something special to offer, and we each deserve equal respect and appreciation, so it’s important not to settle for anything less.
Building your self-esteem back up after a knock can feel tricky – maybe even impossible – though there are steps that you can take to help make it a little easier.
Identifying self-limiting thoughts
For example, it can be helpful to first think about your own attitude towards yourself, and to consider whether self-limiting thoughts could be impacting your happiness.
It’s important to acknowledge any thoughts that are framing you negatively, so you can try to challenge them with an alternative point of view.
One way of challenging these thoughts is by reality testing. This means reminding yourself that your thoughts are based on interpretation rather than fact, to help bring things back into perspective. Remember, it’s not about being egotistical; there’s a big difference between arrogance and practising a healthy level of self-love.
You’ll find plenty of other ideas of how to boost self-worth in our articles; 16 ways to improve your confidence and self-esteem and 7 powerful ways to conquer self-limiting thoughts.
Try practising gratitude
You could also spend some time learning to practise gratitude. Studies show that practising gratitude can enhance positive emotions, increase self-esteem, and improve romantic relationships. You can find out more about this in our article; How practising gratitude can lead to a happier life.
One effective way to practise gratitude and increase your sense of self-worth is through journaling. For example, you could consider writing down three things you like about yourself or that you’re proud of 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.
For more information, have a read of our article; The power of journaling as a life habit. And if you’d like somewhere to start recording your thoughts, there are plenty of gratitude journals available to buy on Amazon.
2. Remain open-minded
Lots of us have underlying expectations about relationships and what we’re looking for in a partner. More commonly, this is known as ‘having a type’.
However, if you’ve classed yourself as being unlucky in love, it can be helpful to reflect on your dating history and ask yourself: have I 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. But Psychology Today has suggested that, by only going after a specific type, people can significantly narrow their romantic 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, you could risk limiting your options and reducing your chances of finding the right person for you.
For this reason, it’s generally best to keep an open mind and to 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
So, next time the opportunity presents itself, consider striking up a conversation with someone who isn’t your usual type and see what happens – you might be pleasantly surprised. After all, if you’ve been disappointed going after people of a similar type so far, then what have you got to lose by taking your search for love elsewhere?
You can read more about the benefits of dating people who aren’t your type in this article from TIME. You might also want to read Mairi’s story about how going for someone who wasn’t her type helped her find love after 50.
3. Try not to take rejection on dating apps personally
These days, more and more people are taking their search for love online, and dating apps are now the starting place for many successful and happy relationships. But while online dating can offer many benefits – including connecting us with people who we would likely never meet otherwise – it can sometimes be problematic too.
Unfortunately, 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 (a behaviour that’s now called ‘ghosting’). In fact, on some dating apps and websites, you’re able to reject others with a single swipe.
While this may seem wonderfully efficient, if you’ve ever been cut off by someone you thought things were going well with, then you’ll also know that this can be disheartening. It can also leave you feeling self-conscious, as you spend time mulling over what went wrong. The lack of explanation in these types of online rejections can sometimes feel even more difficult to process than when it happens face to face.
However, as challenging as it is, it’s important to remember 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 in some ways, it’s no wonder that many people jump at the opportunity to avoid it altogether online.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, try not to take it to heart or let it knock your confidence. And most importantly, try not to let these experiences put you off online dating altogether because it can be a great place to meet real and genuine people. It’s just best to be aware that ‘ghosting’ can happen.
If you’re nervous about taking your dating search online, you might find some reassurance in our article, 10 tips for staying safe while dating online, or our beginner’s guide to dating online over 50.
4. Always be yourself
When we meet someone that we like and are interested in romantically, it’s normal to only want to show them the best version of ourselves. Especially since, these days, the nature of online dating creates a whole new pressure for perfection.
In order to meet these unattainable standards, 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 important to remain true to who you are.
While it’s perfectly natural to want to show the best version of yourself 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 – for example, feeling lonely in a relationship where you can’t truly be yourself.
Always keep in mind that 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. This is 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.
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 looking back a few months down the line, and regretting that you 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. This way, 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.
You might want to read more about staying realistic during the honeymoon period in this article from Stylist.
6. 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 vulnerable to having our feelings hurt. For some people, the thought of this on its own can be enough to put them off dating altogether.
However, 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 to view it 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 slowly dip your toes into the dating pool, 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 for our own Rest Less Dating service.
These are all popular and reputable sites, and while you’ll need to pay a fee to begin swapping messages with other users, you can still get a feel for the sites and the type of people using them for free.
There’s nothing to stop you from changing your mind if you decide that it’s not for you. Remember, 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 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 can be exciting. However, 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 can play a major role in helping to ease the discomfort of any breakup process too.
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, 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. But if you’re struggling to let go of the past, there are some things you can do that might help.
For example, you could 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 Psychology Today’s article; Three ways to break free of your past relationship baggage.
It can help to think of it as though you’ve dressed yourself in protective armour to avoid getting hurt again – and if you don’t shed that armour, the relationship you deserve may struggle to find you.
9. Avoid focusing too much on on the perfect ‘how we met’ story
Dating apps have grown tremendously over the past few years and it’s now become very common for couples to meet online. In fact, dating app eHarmony has predicted that by 2031, just over half of 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, which can lead to a fear of judgement from relatives or other people in their social circle.
Often, this can be especially true of older generations, who didn’t grow up with dating apps. This 2020 study from YouGov showed that one in five people aged 50 to 64 met their partner by chance while out and about.
For those aged 20 to 29, this was much rarer, with it only happening to one in 20 people. Therefore, it’s understandable that the concept of online dating can take some people a little while 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 – although we appreciate that this is sometimes easier said than done.
If you’re thinking about taking your search for love online, have a read of our beginner’s 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. Or, if you think you’re ready, you could consider signing up for Rest Less Dating.
10. Make sure you’re ready to find love again
If you’re looking to start dating, it’s important to consider your motives. Sometimes, people look to new relationships and dating to fill certain voids in their life. This could be to cover the heartache left by a recent breakup, to escape loneliness, or to seek validation from someone else to tackle 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 happy in your own skin. So if you feel you need to spend more time working on yourself, remember that there’s no rush.
If you’re toying with the idea of dating again but are unsure whether you’re ready, you might find our article, 8 questions to help you decide whether you’re ready to date again, useful.
Alternatively, if you’re struggling to come to terms with the end of a relationship, you might find comfort in our article, How to cope with the end of a relationship.
11. Don’t shrug off red flags
It’s important to remain open-minded when dating somebody new. After all, nobody’s perfect and there might be little things that get on your nerves.
For example, perhaps your partner leaves the dishes out on the side, constantly leaves the toilet seat up, or always forgets to take their shoes off when coming into the house.
But, generally speaking, these aren’t exactly what you’d call deal-breakers. Rather, these are minor issues that are often fixed with 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 won’t see each other? Or perhaps they’re always busy, but the reasons for why 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, it’s best to address it.
First, try talking to your partner about how you’re feeling. They might be able to provide you with a perfectly valid explanation for their behaviour, which you can then work through together. But if not, it’s important to trust your gut too. 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-wracking 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 more tips and advice, you might want to visit the dating tips and advice section of our website.