dating tips that will transform your love life
1. Date multiple people at once.
Yes, you heard me! Before you enter an agreed-upon monogamous relationship, do yourself a favor and play the field. Because here’s what’s most likely to happen if you don’t: You meet someone you really like, you go out with them again, things escalate, and then—bam—they either pull away, ghost, or tell you they’re not looking for something serious. Now you’re crushed because you’re emotionally invested in them—but they haven’t invested at all in you. When you’re even the slightest attached to a person, the disappointment stings. Spare yourself the hurt by putting a metaphorical egg in several baskets.
2. Keep dates short.
I like to tell my clients not to let dates go on for more than 90 minutes. Why? That’s enough time to get to know the person on a surface level and (hopefully) feel a spark, but not long enough that your brain starts getting carried away with the excitement of the potential. Dinner dates that spontaneously turn into a five-hour bar crawl or movie night can be incredibly fun, but they can also leave you in a state of confusion and despair if nothing develops from the marathon outing afterward.
3. Be upfront about wanting a relationship.
If, that is, indeed what you want. There’s nothing to be gained by hiding the fact that you’re ultimately looking for your forever person, but there’s a lot you can lose by it. For one, your emotional sanity when the person you’ve been dating digs their heels in keeping things casual, and two, a lot (sometimes a LOT) of time.
If you’re worried that telling a potential partner you want a relationship (in general, not necessarily with them) because you think it’ll scare them off or make you seem desperate, let go of that idea. Anyone who bails when you’re honest about your intentions isn’t someone who would stick around in the long run, anyway, so you’re doing yourself a solid.
4. Avoid talking about exes on early dates.
An oldie but a goodie dating rule, for a reason: Talking about past relationships and breakups gets heavy fast, and the first few dates should be light and easy. Sure, finding out how someone’s last few major relationships ended—and opening up about how yours did, too—is a great way to learn about the person and connect on a deeper level. But there’s plenty of time for that later, so hold off for the first handful of dates.
If they bring up the ex convo, divert it with something like: “I’d be happy to tell you about that stuff when we get to know each other a little better, but for now I’m really enjoying hearing about XYZ.”
5. Pay more attention to follow-through than advanced planning.
I totally understand why some women might not want to accept a last-minute date (or have a Three-Day Rule, or some such), but I wouldn’t write off someone based on how far (or not far) in advance they initiate a date. Some people are just not great planners! And everyone knows how hectic life can be.
I would, however, notice if they mention plans and then don’t follow up on them when the day comes—you want a mature adult who’s willing and able—not to mention, interested enough—to make things happen.
Of course, if you feel like they habitually hit you up out of convenience or they rarely make an attempt to show you that they’re thinking about you, then you should feel free to let them know…or lose their number entirely.
6. Don’t feel obligated to send a thank-you text.
Oh man, the thank-you text. Is there any text more debated and controversial than the one that directly follows the first date? I know some people think the woman absolutely should send one shortly after the end of the first date to let the other person know that she’s interested, and then others think it should always fall on the guy (assuming you’re pursuing a male prospect).
I’m sort of old-school when it comes to pursuit dynamics, which evolutionarily speaking, tend to be led by the male. As long as you thanked your date warmly and sincerely in person before parting ways (which, btw, you absolutely should do whether you’re into seeing them again ornot), I believe there’s no reason to send a follow-up text. Doing so can put them in a position where they feel obligated to respond in a certain way and removes any healthy tension on their part of wondering, Oh, she said she had a good time; I think she likes me, but I’ll have to feel her out in a few days. That’s a great place to leave them.
That said, if you worry that you were a little standoffish or far from flirty on the date (I get it…nerves!), you can reassure them that you enjoyed yourself via text. Don’t overthink this. It’s not a job interview—if you know you showed your enthusiasm in person, the ball is in their court. Let them throw it.
7. Give them two weeks to reach out again.
I know, I know—two weeks?! But hear me out.
Even after a great date, someone might need to figure out how compatible they think you two might be and what plans they can make. I urge you not to read a whole lot into how quickly they text you—as long as it’s within two weeks. That’s plenty of time for a person to have decided whether and when they want to see you again. (After that point, it’s safe to assume that they’re unable or unwilling to prioritize even the idea of you. Next!)
Pay attention to how they follow up when they do—that’s an important of what you’re looking at. Waiting a week to send a one-word text (“Heyyyyy”) is very different from reaching out after 10 days with, “Hey, things have been hectic at work, but I’d love to see you again—are you free next week?” How they pursue you is more important than how quickly they pursue you, so keep that in mind when your post-date anxiety kicks in.
8. Wait at least a few dates to have sex.
I’m not anti- first-date sex, but I’m also not necessarily for it. As a therapist, I know that it’s it’s very, very important to truly know not only someone’s intentions but also whether their actions align with them, and that’s hard to figure out upon first meeting them.
One-thousand percent, to each their own, especially on this topic—but in my professional opinion, a dating rule that can really come in handy for sparing your precious heart isavoiding sexual intimacy until you know you’re both looking for the same thing. If that’s just a sexual connection, great! But if it’s something more, like an actual relationship, you want to make sure that that’s their goal, too. Because having sex only makes you feel even more attached to a person…and can sometimes make you feel down on yourself if they don’t end up committing to you. No one needs to feel that.
9. Don’t freak out about who pays.
It’s almost 2020, and it’s time to stop forcing gender norms on dates. Assuming you’re a female seeking a male partner, there’s absolutely no reason the man has to pay for the date, just as much as there’s absolutely no reason the woman shouldn’t. This is an opportunity to do what makes you comfortable and stays within your values.
If you want to offer to cover or split the bill, I think anyone these days appreciates that, whether they accept your offer or not. If they do let you, it’s not a sign that they’re not interested—just as much as their insistence on paying doesn’t necessarily mean they are. Try not to take too much meaning in that, unless they tell you otherwise.
10. Feel free to do some of the planning yourself.
I know it feels nice when someone else takes the reins on choosing a time and place for your date, but again, some people just aren’t great planners, so if you have a certain idea in mind, throw it out there.
They’ll probably appreciate your effort— it takes pressure off of them, which can actually make them go into the thing a bit less tense or nervous (so a win for you in the end, really). If you all-caps hate planning anything, though (like, even choosing a brunch spot with your friends), let them know you’re down for X or Y…but you actually have to be down for that (because they will choose from it).
Oh, and P.S. If you want to make the first move and ask someone out, go for it! The worst that happens is they turn you down. Their loss!
11. Eat whatever the heck you want.
I have to end on this one because it trips me up that what you order is even a topic of discussion when it comes to dating. You may have heard the “Always order a salad,” “Never finish your plate,” or “Never bring home food” rules, because you are A Lady. To which I say, pssha!
How silly it is that these dating rules exist in the first place. Eat what you want to eat, for the love of pasta! If you’re hungry, by all means, go to town and fork down as much as you need to feel satisfied. And if you’re a leftovers kind of gal, you want a partner who respects your not wasting food…and even thinks it’s kinda sexy how much you love a nice meal.
Life is too short to be with someone who doesn’t appreciate your appetite, whether it’s for a (not tough) steak or a boring salad. Trust me on that.