When you’re ready to start dating, it can be tough to know where to begin. You have to consider many things once you get yourself out there, from setting your expectations realistically to maintaining your own identity.
If you want to lessen the pressure that comes with it, you can always get help from a professional matchmaking service. But these dating for first-timers can get yourself started in the right direction.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself
It’s a stereotype that all people who are single and looking need to be super outgoing, party-oriented socialites. This is very rarely the case, and most people would rather date someone who is comfortable in their own skin than some wild extroverted person who breaks out in hives at the thought of spending an entire evening alone with them.
But how do you show your authentic self? One of the best things you can do to help ease any anxiety you may be feeling is to relax. Deep breaths always help, as does spending a few minutes focusing on calming your mind and body.
Be honest. If there’s something you don’t like or that makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to speak up. Honesty is key in any relationship, and it’s especially important when you’re just starting out.
Be open-minded. Don’t be too quick to dismiss someone or write them off because they don’t share all of your interests.
2. Know Your Limits
Know what you’re looking for and be clear about what you want in a partner. If there’s something specific that’s non-negotiable, make sure your potential matches know it.
For example, “I’m not looking for anything serious right now” or “I would like to meet someone who shares my love of horror movies.”
You should also be up-front about the sorts of things you aren’t interested in. If one of these things is incompatible with your life goals, it’s better to find out early on rather than wasting time with someone who isn’t really right for you.
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries either. Being clear about what you will and won’t tolerate helps other people respect your space and feelings. If someone else says something or makes a move that bothers you, speak up!
3. Maintain Your Identity
You can’t expect someone else to love, care for, and support you if you don’t feel confident in yourself. This is why it’s so important to maintain your identity outside of any relationships you might have.
Be sure that you have plenty of time for hobbies that are just yours. If these are things that help remind you who you are on your own, having them around will allow you to feel more grounded when you’re not with anyone else.
It can be extremely beneficial to find some sort of exercise program or sport that has nothing to do with anything related to dating. Whether it’s taking an art class or joining a team at the local gym, this type of activity can play a big role in keeping you healthy and happy when not actively looking for a partner.
4. Keep Your Expectations Realistic
It can be easy to get carried away with the idea of finding love, especially if it’s been so long since you’ve been in a serious relationship that your standards have gotten higher than ever before. You may think, “If I only find someone who is perfect for me, everything will fall into place!”
Then reality hits. It can be disappointing to meet someone great but realize they don’t tick every box on your list. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them or that there’s no chemistry – it simply means that you’re not 100% compatible with them either.
That doesn’t mean that it’s time to give up. However, it does mean that you may need to rethink your expectations and what exactly you’re looking for in someone else.
5. Don’t Rush Into Something You’re Not Ready For
It can be easy to get swept up in the excitement of meeting someone new, especially when you haven’t been on many dates lately. Remember that feelings have a way of developing over time.
If things are moving too fast for your liking, explain this to your date or potential partner. If it’s not okay with them, then maybe it’s not meant to be. Just because they may not understand where you’re coming from doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. After all, everyone is entitled to their boundaries and opinions.
6. Know What Makes You Happy
This will come in handy later when you try to analyze how well different people fit into your life. Maybe a potential partner does well in one area but not so great with another. This can be a warning sign that there is some fundamental incompatibility with this person even if they are really nice or seem to fill certain needs for you.
Maybe you never date the same type of person more than once or find yourself picking partners who all have very similar interests and backgrounds. In this case, it’s helpful to think about what made these people stand out from the others and reflect on what might have been missing from their lives that prevented you from being interested in going further.
Finding love is a daunting task, but there are plenty of people out there who are ready to meet you. Take your time to explore them and enjoy yourself along the way. Don’t feel pressured into anything you’re not fully ready for, but if it feels right, then go for it.