Even if you have been in the scene for a while, dating can be tough sometimes. But not as tough as for someone who has never dated before or is entering the dating scene after a long time.
They’re entering a world that they have never seen before or it has changed significantly from the last time they were there. If you are one of these people, we would like to offer some tips on the matter.
But first, please remember that this article is for entertainment and educational purposes only. If you would like more in-depth information or help with your relationship issues please contact a licensed marriage and family therapist or certified dating coach.
That being said, here are 12 tips that will help you when entering or reentering the dating world.
1- Know yourself
In his article, The Three Keys of Dating, Dr. Lawrence Jackson, a licensed marriage and family therapist, explains that to vet properly and find the right person for you it is important to know what you need in terms of values, treatment, beliefs, ideas, support, and anything that you need or want in a partner.
“For example”, said Dr. Jackson assistant professor at the Gottman Institute, “it may be important for you to feel ‘supported.’ Spending some time exploring which supportive behaviors you value can help you develop that expectation. When you understand such expectations, you can allow yourself to eliminate people who don’t meet your needs.”
2- Go at your own pace
Have you ever felt pressure to either date or find someone fast? Many people feel this pressure. But, whether it is caused by family, friends, society, or yourself it is better if you slow down when it comes to dating. Especially if you’ve never done it before or if you’re going back into it after a long absence.
Brandy Davis, senior relationship coach at Relationship Hero a platform that provides online therapy support and advice for dealing with relationship issues, says that being rushed can be considered a red flag.
“Being rushed into something is a red flag”, expressed Davis in an interview with Psych2Go, “It is a sign that they can not take no for an answer”.
Instead of rushing, Davis suggests taking your time to make sure you can get what you need and want.
“Dip a toe in”, Davis said, “but take that toe out if you need to or if you feel you have to take a break”.
3- Think of each step as practice
Many people are opting to meet online instead of the traditional way of having been introduced by friends or family. If you are one of those people that is open to meeting others online, Davis says to be patient and take each experience as practice.
“ Men have to send a lot of text messages online these days. Women have to read through hundreds of messages”, said Davis, “You are not going to be great at it in the beginning”.
Davis warned that, if you are heterosexual, as a woman you will have to deal with many messages from men saying “Hey sexy”. While as a man you will have to deal with ghosting from women.
If you are lesbian or gay, however, Davis says that there is less pressure on who sends a message first and a lot fewer replies that are inappropriate to most.
“The same applies to setting up a profile or going on a date”, said Davis, “Each piece is simply practiced until you get better at it and find your person”.
4- Communicate and be honest
Have you ever had an awkward date due to a lack of communication? Relationship experts say that communication is incredibly important even in the dating phase. Communicating your intentions, for example, will help both of you decide if you want to keep dating.
In his article, The Three Keys of Dating posted on the Gottman Institue website, Dr. Lawrence explained that “You must have a dialogue about the different ways that you like to receive kindness, love, and respect. By having this overt conversation, you are laying out your expectations and implementing your boundaries. As a result, you increase the chances for a positive experience for you and your date”.
Similarly, relation coach Davis, said that being honest and forthcoming is the only way to know that you and your date are on the same page.
“Be honest”, Davis said, “If the goal is a relationship, they are going to know that you are not a millionaire eventually. Do not lie about it. It just leads to a lot of dates that go nowhere.”
According to Davis, you don’t have to talk about absolutely all of your wants and needs on the first date but tell just enough so both of you understand each other.
“Be forthcoming about what you want”, said Davis, “While it is not ideal to talk about marriage on a first date, it is okay to be forthcoming about what you are looking for – be it a hookup, a few dates, or something long-term. It is the only way to know that you are on the same page”.
A few things that you can be honest about are if you are divorced, widowed, just getting out of a long-term relationship, or any reason why you haven’t been dating.
“If you are returning to dating after a long time, there is a reason”, Davis said, “However, the person does not need to know the entire story of why you are single on a first date. It comes off as too much too soon and that reads like a red flag.”
5- Watch out for red flags
In her article called Red Flag/Green Flag: What To Look For When You Are Dating, Elizabeth Earnshaw, licensed marriage and family therapist, states that there are four major red flags to look for when you’re dating: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt.
According to Earnshaw, an example of criticism would be “you are always so late” or “you never think about me at night”. Notice that people who criticize will use the words always and never.
“Defensiveness looks like counter-criticizing, over-explaining, justifying actions, or playing the victim”, said Earnshaw, who is a Gottman certified therapist and contributor, “If you are dating and bring up a concern that you have and the other person responds defensively, that might be something to look out for”.
Stonewalling, on the other hand, takes an inactive approach.
“If you’re with someone who is stonewalling, it will seem as if the other person zoned out or couldn’t care less about what you’re saying”, said Earnshaw in her article, “You might experience this during an initial conflict. Perhaps the other person goes offline and becomes unresponsive.”
The red flag of contempt is probably the most sinister of the four. Contempt, according to the article, is done when the other person feels superior to you. It can take the form of putting down any aspect of you or your life, mean-spirited sarcasm, laughing at you, or saying they are better than you in some capacity.
Earnshaw warns that if someone is showing contempt on the first date, that is a major red flag.
Likewise, when we asked Brandy Davis from Relationship Hero for advice on red flags she gave us a very serious sentence, “Run”.
“If you are uncomfortable with someone”, said Davis, “they seem manipulative, they put you down, they try to rush you into things, they guilt you, they seem to never take responsibility for their mistakes, they seem possessive or jealous, or their emotions are all over the place – do not walk away, run.”
Besides the red flags, Davis also advised about the yellow flags that you may see while dating.
“There are also yellow flags”, said Davis, “Things that you think are an issue but are not sure about”.
“When in doubt, ask an expert or ask yourself, ‘How would I feel if someone was treating my mom/ best friend/ kid/ etc like this’ – we tend to be less overly forgiving when someone is hurting a loved one”, advised Davis.
6- Tell someone you know where you are and be aware of your surroundings
Do you let a family member or friend know where you are when you go out? Always let someone you trust know where you are and with who. It is always a good idea in case something happens on your date.
“It is dangerous out there – phone a friend”, said Davis, “Always let someone know where you are and who you are with. Do not take drinks from strangers. There are bad people out there who will roofie a drink or harm you. Always remember that someone you met online or in line at Starbucks is not someone you know”.
Although ghosting is normally seen as a sign of disrespect, get prepared for the possibility that it might happen to you. Or that you might do it to someone else. Ghosting is generally looked down upon but if your date showed red flags or some kind of aggressiveness towards you. You don’t owe them anything, as Brandy Davis said.
“Ghosting is a thing and it is okay to do it. Really.”, said Davis, “You do not owe a person you hung out with once a reason for why you do not want to talk to them”.
Davis continued, “Maybe they were sketchy. Just ghost. That being said, it is always nice to give feedback when you are willing. You also should not ghost a person that you have been with for 6 months unless there are safety concerns”.
If the date did not present any safety concerns and there were no red flags, it is very advisable that you do not ghost and instead, be forthcoming. Your date is also trying to find their match and would appreciate any respectful feedback you may have.
8- Be selective but not picky
Are you picky or selective? When you look up picky and selective in the dictionary it seems that they mean the same thing. But, picky and selective have different connotations.
While being picky is usually associated with choosing things that are the way you want them and no other way, being selective is associated with some flexibility when choosing.
Brandy Davis, a senior relationship coach, explains how to be selective at the moment of dating.
“Think about what matters to you – your values and base selection decisions on that”, Davis said, “Does it matter what sports team they root for? Do you think that you could not fall for a dentist?”
Davis continued, “If a person is great in 9/10 ways, really think about how much that 10th thing matters. Sometimes it matters, but sometimes it does not. You do not want to think that the grass is greener elsewhere because that leads to the grass never being green enough”.
Davis explained that there are probably many more people that are compatible with you, so you don’t have to stress on the decision too much. And, if it doesn’t work out you can always stop seeing them.
9- It’s a numbers game
What does dating being a numbers game mean? Well, according to Davis it means that there will be a lot of people vying for your attention, especially if you decide to give online dating a chance.
“A lot of people are dating online these days”, said Davis, “You are going to send or receive a lot of messages. If you are a man, you will get frustrated from a lack of replies. Keep sending messages to other women. Someone will think that you are funny.”
“If you are a woman”, Davis continued, “you will get overwhelmed as every day brings dozens or hundreds of new messages. Keep reading them. You will run into a few that you’ll want to reply to”.
Another reason that dating is a numbers game is that you have more than one choice and shouldn’t get hung up for too long if your past choice didn’t work out.
“It is a numbers game”, said Davis, “so do not get bogged down in a bad date or a ghosted message. It happens. Move on to the next person who interests you. If you get bogged down, you’re going to get frustrated and that tends to lead to an attitude that is less than attractive”.
10- First Dates
According to relationship coach, Brandy Davis, dates are actionable dates.
“All you can do at dinner is talk. What if the conversation lulls?”, Davis asked, “That is what the pool game, the bowling game, or the rousing game of mini golf is for – it is a way to keep the conversation going and fill in lulls. It also makes teasing a lot easier”.
Besides teasing, Davis advises to use humor, flirt, and compliment your date, whether man, woman, or nonbinary.
With humor, Davis said that this is relative. It is alright if your (respectful) jokes are not understood by the other person. It may mean that this person is not a fit.
Besides the funny aspect of it, humor is also good when it comes to flirting.
“Humor is a great way to flirt”, said Davis, “tease the person lightly. Make them laugh. Remember that the goal is to have fun. Light touches (with consent) are okay but keep it PG on a first date”.
According to Davis, you can also make eye contact and stand a little closer when you are flirting. But one of the sexiest things is living in the present.
“Pay attention to the person and show that you are”, Davis said, “Great follow-up questions are so sexy. Also, remember to monitor your body language. You want to appear confident and easy-going, not stuffy and uncomfortable”.
In terms of complimenting your date, Davis wants to remind you that it is better if you compliment the other person on things they have control over.
“Compliments are great but make them about things that the other person has control over”, the relationship coach advised, “The person chose their clothes, but they did not choose their eye color. Also, non-looks compliments are appreciated.”
And, finally, the last piece of advice for first dates is to have fun.
“Remember that this is supposed to be fun”, said Davis, “First dates are just fun ways to see if you click with a person. Take off some of that pressure. The pressure comes out on dates and will make you seem less confident.”
11- Dating in person
Are you someone who finds their dates online or in-person? Many people still use the in-person method but it can be difficult when most people are online.
If you don’t know where to meet people in person, Brandy Davis from Relationship Hero, recommends asking people such as the locals or others who like to go out and know where the dating scene is.
Only people who live in that area know where the singles go to socialize and you will need to know that too to meet people.
Besides going to places where the singles meet, some people might also try to converse with an interesting stranger that caught their eye. This method though requires a little bit of skill.
“The cold approach is mostly dead”, said Davis, “But you can always strike up a conversation with a stranger if you have a hook”.
Davis explains, “A hook is a topic of conversation you can be reasonably sure the other person is into. Are they wearing a Marvel shirt? Ask them if they are Team Cap or Team Tony. You want to come off as someone striking up a random conversation and not as a person looking for a date. Society is conditioning us to think of that as sketchy.”
12- When dating online
If you decide to join online dating, here are a few tips to increase your chances of finding someone. The first tip Davis mentioned is getting in at least 3 apps.
“Which apps?”, she said, “That depends on what you are looking for, where you live, and who you are. Some are bigger in the big cities. Some are more popular among the young. Some cater to hookups. A lot of thought goes into what apps are best for you.”
The more apps you get that best reflect your interest, the more people you will meet and the more possibility you will have in finding someone who matches you and your beliefs.
The second tip for online dating is to work on your biography in a way that reflects who you truly are.
“Your photos should tell who you are and back up your bio”, Davis told us, “No one wants to see 10 photos of you posing. They want to see who you are and see that the person you described on the app is the personality they see depicted in the photos.”
Remember that genuineness and honesty are preferred to avoid problems down the road. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, that is exactly what will attract people that will be a match to you.
Did you like this advice? Did you learn anything new? Comment below and share this article with someone you think needs this. Follow our Youtube channel for more tips and lists. And, thank you for reading.
Ayala, D., & Davis, B. (2021, October 28). Tips for entering the dating scene. Psych2Go. Interview.
Earnshaw, E. (2021, August 16). Red Flag/Green Flag: What to look for when you’re dating. The Gottman Institute. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/blog/red-flag-green-flag-what-to-look-for-when-youre-dating/.
The Gottman Institute. (2021, August 23). Getting to know you: Questions to ask your dating partner. The Gottman Institute. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/blog/getting-to-know-you-questions-to-ask-your-dating-partner/.
Jackson, L. (2021, August 30). The three keys of dating. The Gottman Institute. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-three-keys-of-dating/.