As a 27-year-old who has been in the dating game for a while, there have been a lot of things I’ve picked up through going on dates, surfing apps, getting into long-term (and short-term) relationships, and all-around having romantic ventures.
While there are no hard and fast rules for how to tackle the dating world, I’ve personally found that certain strategies make navigating dating and relationships a little easier.
Take A Mental Note About How Much Each Of You Talk On A First Date
While on a first date, I consciously think about how much I’m talking vs. how much the guy is. Is he talking more about himself? How many questions does he actually ask me? If the conversation seems to skew towards him just rambling on about his own life without really wanting to know about mine, there isn’t a second date.
Don’t Feign Interest To Be Polite
As people, but especially women, we are often expected to be polite and accepting of someone’s advances. However, if you really don’t reciprocate their feelings, don’t even try to. My two worst relationships were a result of me giving in to guy’s requests and giving them a chance despite not really being into it, and both ended in bitter resentment.
Do A Coffee Date First—Not Drinks
Even though you might find yourself a little less tightly wound after a drink or two, your perception gets a little clouded, and you might find yourself thinking you enjoyed hanging out with this person more than sober-you would have. Just stick to a coffee date to get to know someone—drinks can come later.
Don’t Trust Dating App Profiles With One Photo Or No Description
I will instantly swipe left on any dating profile that only has a single photo. I mean, if someone can’t muster up more than a single picture in the era of phone cameras, something just feels off. Additionally, I don’t match with anyone without a bio of some sort—I need a general idea about someone’s personality if I’m going to put in any effort.
Dumping Information On You Doesn’t Equal Vulnerability
Early on in seeing someone, they might tell you all about their past mistakes or struggles. Of course, opening up is a good thing, but having someone dump all their baggage on you isn’t always a show of vulnerability.
I’ve had past partners drop information on me so that they could say they “warned me about their negative behaviors before so I shouldn’t be surprised,” or use my compassion as a means to absolve themselves of feeling like they did anything wrong. I’m not saying you should be guarded, but you should consciously think about someone’s intentions when sharing with you.
Don’t Let Your Friends Set You Up On A Blind Date
Maybe your friend has a friend of a partner/coworker/any-sort-of-connection they think would be a good match for you, so they want to set you up with them. While good in theory, I find there’s too much pressure on blind dates, and if things are bad, I feel awkward about leaving because of our mutual connection.
Instead, if your friend is insistent, push for a more casual way to meet the person instead (e.g. a games night, drinks, party, etc.).
Bring Up Things You Can’t Compromise On Early
If your stance on having kids, staying in/leaving a certain location, or anything else is something uncompromisable for you, bring it up early. If they’re on a different page, you can avoid getting tangled in a relationship with no future.
Within the first two months of dating, I make sure to have discussed career goals, if I want kids, religious views, and political views.
A Red Flag Is A Red Flag—Don’t Justify It
If someone exhibits an intense red flag behavior toward you, don’t try to excuse it. Instead, bring it up with them and try to talk it out. If they aren’t receptive to discussing your concerns or feelings, that’s a red flag in itself, and you should let them go. Every time I’ve tried to give someone the benefit of the doubt over a red flag, I’ve ended up regretting it.
Use Dating App Filters
No, it’s not shallow to use filters to limit the profiles shown to you. You can easily eliminate options that have lifestyles, values, and characteristics that you don’t find compatible and instead focus your time and energy on profiles that might actually interest you.
You Are Not A Therapist!
There is a difference between being supportive of a partner and being THE support for them. You aren’t supposed to manage all of their emotional problems or fix their life; you should be empowering them to do it themselves. If a partner starts to treat you as a therapist, it’s a problem.
Be Honest About What You’re Looking For
If you start seeing someone and they’re looking for something you’re not—for example, they want to be casual, but you want something more committed—don’t pretend you’re okay with a situation you’re not. You’re only going to resent each other for not being what the other wanted.
Pay Attention To How Men Talk About Their Exes
In general, I think the way men talk about women is very telling, but it’s especially true for exes. I find that men who are worth dating will often talk about their past partners in a respectful manner even though things didn’t work out.
Most times, if a guy consistently calls an ex a “crazy b****” or degrades her based on her sexuality or appearance, he won’t treat you respectfully in the future.
Figure Out How You Connect With Others
While some people are good at feeling connected over text, I personally recognize that I need in-person interactions to actually feel connected to a romantic interest. Set up scenarios where you can play to your preferences, such as agreeing not to talk over text much before meeting for a date.
Don’t Lie About Your Interests To Sound Cooler
Everyone loves to say they like adventures, going hiking, and trying new foods, but do you actually? Stop basing your profile on what you think people want from you, and instead, just be yourself. Put the weird stuff up there—you’re more likely to meet someone who’s really interested in you.
Try Not To Get Naked Right Away
I’m not coming at this from a moral standpoint, but from the position that physical intimacy can make you feel closer to someone emotionally than you really are—especially if the physical aspects are good. Figure out how you actually feel about the person before hopping in bed.
Look For Balance (Or Imbalances) In Relationships
As in any relationship with anyone, there are times where one person needs more support than the other and vice versa, but if you find you’re giving more and they are constantly taking, there’s a problem. Over time, things should balance out, not be one-sided.
If you find yourself taking more than you give, ask if you’re really invested in the relationship or if you should let them go.
Listen To Friends, But Don’t Take Their Advice As Final
I love to talk to my friends about my relationship and dating issues and ask them for their advice just as much as anyone else, but remember that your friends only have a limited view of your relationship. Listen to them, of course, but don’t let their opinions sway you too much. Focus on how you feel.
Be Honest With Yourself About How You Feel About Someone
Sometimes I catch myself wanting to like someone so much that I’ll ignore my negative feelings toward them. Sometimes I catch myself trying to deny feelings because I’m afraid it’s not reciprocated. It’s important to check yourself and really get to the root of your feelings in every situation.
Be Honest With Yourself As To Whether You Want To Date At All
You might think and say that you want to be in a relationship, but do you actually? Sometimes, our actions tell us more than our thoughts—I occasionally catch myself sabotaging relationships or finding excuses to stay single. At times, I’m not ready to date—and that’s totally fine—but I need to be honest with myself about it.
Dating can feel a lot like casting out fishing lines on a daily basis and only catching catfish, ones you want to toss back, and sometimes nothing at all. It’s easy to get disheartened and frustrated about the process, and it’s fine to feel that way for a while, but stay optimistic for the long run—the right person will eventually turn up.