Inexperience, negative experiences, or low self-esteem both make it difficult to jump back into the modern dating landscape. Whether you’re newly divorced after years of marriage, haven’t been successful yet, or are new to dating, navigating dating apps, blind dates, and speed dating apps are all options.
Is there a right or wrong way to get started or jump back in? How do you approach dating today without putting yourself at risk of disappointment or, worse, in a harmful environment? These tips from a professional dating coach help you learn how to dive back into the dating scene.
Tips for Finding Dates and Starting Your Search
Finding someone to date proves challenging for many people. Sure, there are plenty of dating apps, but you don’t know where to get started or which app is best. These tips help you navigate where to find dates and how to narrow down your choices.
Explore What You Most Want in a Relationship or Partner
Before you do anything else, jot down a list of what you want from a partner and the relationship. You need to do a deep dive into things like if you’re looking for children and a life partner or someone with the same adventurous spirit. Do you want someone interested in traveling the world or a homebody who prefers lazy weekends at home watching movies?
Some of the biggest issues that lead to break-ups include:
- Failure to communicate
- Lack of support
- Uneven balance of responsibilities or effort
A comprehensive list of the things you do and do not want from a relationship helps you narrow down the type of person you want to meet. It ensures you’re not starting with the wrong person.
Don’t Portray Yourself as Someone You’re Not
Make sure you’re not lying about who you are and what you believe. If you’ve seen the show “Catfish” at all, a lot of issues arise when someone suffers from low self-esteem and uses a fake picture to draw others in. Lying gets you nowhere. No one is perfect, and it’s not a bad thing. We all have imperfections that may not appeal to someone, but others may find that’s what they love most about you.
When you’re honest about who you are, what you believe in, and what you like and don’t like, you’ll find someone who supports the real you, and that’s key to a positive, lasting relationship.
Believe in Yourself
Honesty is important, and so is believing that you are attractive inside and out. You are worthy and the right person is out there. Believe that you can find, get to know, and hold on to that person. The right match will last a lifetime if you put the energy and care into nurturing that relationship.
Have Realistic Expectations
As you search for people to get to know, make sure you have realistic expectations. There is no magic number for finding the right person. Some people meet their soulmate instantly and others wade through dozens of less-than-perfect dates first. Don’t expect to fall head over heels with the first person you meet.
Tips for Getting to Know Someone New and Setting Up the First Date
You’ve navigated apps or attended social events and have a few people on your shortlist. Don’t rush the first in-person meeting, but don’t keep putting them off, either. It’s recommended that you chat, and talk in person on the phone and by video chat. Once you’re comfortable and eager to talk to this person every day, set up a first official date, but follow these guidelines.
Don’t Give Out Your Address
You do not and should not give your address to a new date. That can come later. Agree to get to the chosen location on your own.
Meet in a Public Location
Always meet in a public location. You don’t want to be somewhere remote and put yourself at risk. Meet for coffee to start. If that goes well, progress to lunch or dinner. When you start with coffee, it’s easy to walk away if you don’t mesh.
You also want to keep distractions to a minimum. If your first date is a movie, your attention is focused on the screen and not your date. It’s hard to get to know someone without having ample opportunity to talk.
Know the Dating Red Flags and How to Handle Them
Make sure you know the dating red flags. These don’t necessarily have to be deal breakers, but you should know how to handle them. Things to watch for are:
- A tendency to be controlling
- Constant jealousy or possessive behaviors
- Dominates the conversation
- Lying or using manipulative behaviors that get you to question yourself, aka gaslighting
- Making you feel uncomfortable
- Non-stop complaints about an ex
- Pushing your boundaries
- Refusal to compromise
- Rudeness with waitstaff or baristas
- Too fast or too much, too soon
If your date is doing anything on this list, call them out. Sometimes, things like dominating a conversation can be a nervous habit. If you do mention it, give your date a chance to change. Trust your instincts, too. If something seems off and makes you uncomfortable, it’s better to cut the date short.
Do Not Rush to Judgment
Remember that everyone is nervous and not always the same person as they’ll be once they’re comfortable. Don’t rush to judgment if a date is nervous and awkward, that can just be first-date jitters.
Don’t Dominate the Conversation
Anxiety and nerves can make it hard to keep a conversation from flowing smoothly. Try to check that you’re not dominating a conversation and keeping your date from wanting to talk. If you find you’re talking too much, as a leading question that can’t be answered with a yes or no.
Instead of asking your date if they like to read, ask your date about his or her favorite author. Follow that with what book they’d recommend you start with and what makes it so special.
If your date is dominating the conversation, feel free to say so. Again, it could simply be a nervous habit and they don’t realize it.
Don’t Feel Forced Into Intimacy
There is no hard, fast rule on when you have to kiss, hug, or become intimate with someone. If it’s not time, don’t feel forced to kiss your date or head home together to see where things go. When it’s time and you’re ready, you’ll know it. If your date doesn’t understand that, that’s not your problem. Pressure should never be part of a quality relationship.
Post-Date Tips and Where to Go From Here
The first date is over, so what comes next? If it went well for you, remember that there is a chance your date didn’t feel the same. Don’t let that get you down. It happens and is just part of dating. Move on to the next person and see what happens. Here are the things you need to focus on.
Take the Time to Reflect and Recognize What Went Right, and What You’d Change
Reflect on the entire date, not just the moments that were positive. If there were downsides, you need to consider them. How would you change that to become positive? If there is a second date, you have areas where you can make adjustments and see if things are even better the second time.
Realize the Importance of Growth
It’s important to assess your behavior and actions on the date. You’ll only grow in a relationship by knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Again, no one is perfect, but you can start to look at yourself and realize where you can become stronger, more assured, and the person you truly are.
Navigating the dating world can be tricky, but it’s not something to avoid. You have the power to find someone special, even if you don’t realize it yet. The Relationship Expert’s professional date coaching helps you assess your past, prioritize how to sell the real you to potential dates, and have the best possible experience as you navigate the dating world.