Being a 30-year-old woman who’s experienced her fair (and sometimes completely unfair) share of dating, Match and I both knew we were the perfect, er, match. Writing for the world’s most well-known dating site has provided me with invaluable insight into the wide world of romance and relationships, but I’ve also garnered a large amount of my own firsthand experience from all the dating I’ve
done suffered through.
So, after extra careful consideration, a few heavy pours of red wine, and several trips down dating memory lane that I didn’t want to take, I’ve landed on these five crucial tips when it comes to dating.
Be Yourself from Moment One
At first, you might feel the need to downplay your strong personality. To act coyer, subtler, and more unlike you than you normally would. It’s natural to want to keep some mystery at first, but that doesn’t mean changing your personality entirely. Because here’s the deal: no matter how you are upfront, there are endless things to learn about each other. Getting to know someone is a mystery in and of itself; it’s naturally intriguing. So, playing the “chill” girl role when you actually have severe anxiety, wearing something you normally never would in hopes they’ll like it, agreeing to dine at a place you famously hate, or even changing the volume of your laugh as to not scare him off — it’s all stifling the real you because, somewhere along the way, you decided the real you isn’t worthy of being liked upfront.
Does this mean you should go into every date ready to spill the deepest details of your life to a potential partner? Definitely not (unless that’s your thing — then go for it!). It just means that you’re practicing self-disrespect by pretending to be anyone but yourself. So, be you upfront. That way, your date won’t be confused upon learning that you’re prone to panic attacks, actually hate wearing dresses, don’t like craft beer, and have a laugh that can be heard from 20 miles away. They’ll dig everything about you because they knew what they were getting from day one.
Date Smart by Dating Around
This is something my friends, family, and even therapist have told me for years, and I always wanted to listen but never did. Hopeless romantics and girls who are just so ready for the real deal will agree that the idea of spreading your intense, lustful emotions even thinner by divvying them out to more than one guy at a time seems exhausting and impossible. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not! In fact, it’s invigorating and very doable. When pickings seem so slim and you feel (what seems like) a very real connection with someone, it’s human nature to want to dive in head, feet, and whole body first. Hell, you’ll even belly flop.
However, for as many times as you’ve taken this all-in approach, has it worked out well? The idea behind dating more than one guy at once is to keep your options open, not be so available and, most importantly, buy yourself time to figure out which guy is truly worthy of all the attention you’re ready and willing to give. More than that, it’s giving so-so first dates the chance to turn into amazing second, third, and fourth dates. Or, on the flip side, giving amazing first dates the chance to show their true colors on a so-so second date, bad third date, and downright nightmarish fourth date.
Know Your Non-Negotiables
In today’s dating climate, we can be quick to forget what we will and won’t stand for when it comes to finding a potential partner. Sometimes, against our own best judgment, we choose to ignore yellow, orange, and blazing crimson flags at the off-chance that maybe they aren’t what they seem. This is why non-negotiables (the qualities and characteristics someone must or must NOT have in order for you to feel extra great about dating them) are so important at the offset of any date. Having a well-crafted, thoughtful collection of attributes you either require or know don’t mix well with your own isn’t being picky — it’s an effort to not settle for less than what you know you want and what works best for you. Any time you’re flirting with the idea of wavering on your non-negotiables, remember this: Habits can change. Character can’t.
Trust Your Gut (Even When You Don’t Want To)
You’ve heard this piece of advice a hundred different times in a hundred different ways, but it’s repeated over and over because it’s so essential. The concept itself seems simple — “Trust myself. Cool. Got it.” The problem, however, is that so many people don’t trust themselves. The average human doesn’t come without their own custom set of insecurities, no matter how massive, microscopic, or mediocre those self-doubts are.
That said, it can take years and countless experiences to trust the idea of trusting your gut. But, as a seasoned dating vet, let me assure you that your gut is absolutely, unequivocally always right. If you get the feeling that something is off, listen to that feeling. The human mind and body can work together in mysterious ways when it’s trying to protect you. So, next time you’re on a date or dating someone and get that unmistakable feeling in your gut, pause and listen to what it has to say. Trusting your gut could end up saving you a lot of time, energy, and yet another dating letdown.
Good News Can Wait
Last but not least is yet another piece of advice it took me until my 30s to exercise. Even if things are going great and you’ve never felt like this before and he does everything right. Even when you’re literally bursting at the seams to shout “FINALLY! A GOOD ONE!” from whichever mountaintop is nearest your town — wait. In today’s world, it’s increasingly more difficult to keep things private. Social media is a place many go to share (and overshare) their every thought, feeling, meal, outfit, and sunset (I am the #1 offender of this, so I get it).
However, because dating is so delicate, I’ve found it’s much better to keep it sacred as long as you can. Not to hide it away or keep it secret, but just to make 100% sure what you’re feeling isn’t fleeting and who they are is true before you go sharing your newfound love with the world. You don’t need validation on your new relationship from your social media feeds. If it’s the real deal and long-lasting, you’ll have all the time in the world to post adorable selfies, first-trip pics, and #MCMs. For now, protect your feelings (and your new boo’s) by basking in the glow of what this could be and hop on social media about it later.
Discussing Exclusivity is Necessary
I learned this the hard way several times but, in today’s dating world, no relationship is official or exclusive if it’s not explicitly stated by both parties to one another. I know — it sounds so… legal. But we’re living in non-committal times, and people are perfectly happy to avoid the “What are we?” question in an effort to keep things casual and their options open. So, the next time you’ve met someone you really like and really want to make sure they’re all in and only have eyes for you, discuss it. The worst that can happen? They back out with an I’m scared/not ready/not as into you line, and you know what we say to that? Good riddance and thank you for not wasting my time.