1: KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
Don’t make your search for a relationship the centre of your life. Concentrate on activities you enjoy, your career, health, and relationships with family and friends. When you focus on keeping yourself happy, it will keep your life balanced and make you a more interesting person when you do meet someone special.
Remember that first impressions aren’t always reliable, especially when it comes to Internet dating. It always takes time to really get to know a person and you have to experience being with someone in a variety of situations. For example, how well does this person hold up under pressure when things don’t go well or when they’re tired, frustrated, or hungry?
Be honest about your own flaws and shortcomings. Everyone has flaws, and for a relationship to last, you want someone to love you for the person you are, not the person you’d like to be, or the person they think you should be. Besides, what you consider a flaw may actually be something another person finds quirky and appealing. By shedding all pretence, you’ll encourage the other person to do the same, which can lead to an honest, more fulfilling relationship.
2: BUILD A GENUINE CONNECTION
The dating game can be nerve wracking. It’s only natural to worry about how you’ll come across and whether or not your date will like you. But no matter how shy or socially awkward you feel, you can overcome your nerves and self-consciousness and forge a great connection.
Focus outward, not inward. To combat first-date nerves, focus your attention on what your date is saying and doing and what’s going on around you, rather than on your internal thoughts. Staying fully present in the moment will help take your mind off worries and insecurities.
Be curious. When you’re truly curious about someone else’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, stories, and opinions, it shows—and they’ll like you for it. You’ll come across as far more attractive and interesting than if you spend your time trying to promote yourself to your date. And if you aren’t genuinely interested in your date, there’s little point in pursuing the relationship further.
Be genuine. Showing interest in others can’t be faked. If you’re just pretending to listen or care, your date will pick up on it. No one likes to be manipulated or placated. Rather than helping you connect and make a good impression, your efforts will most likely backfire. If you aren’t genuinely interested in your date, there is little point in pursuing the relationship further.
Pay attention. Make an effort to truly listen to the other person. By paying close attention to what they say, do, and how they interact, you’ll quickly get to know them. Little things go a long way, such as remembering someone’s preferences, the stories they’ve told you, and what’s going on in their life.
Put your smartphone away. You can’t truly pay attention or forge a genuine connection when you’re multitasking. Nonverbal communication—subtle gestures, expressions, and other visual cues—tell us a lot about another person, but they’re easy to miss unless you’re tuned in.
3: DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN
Online dating, singles events, and matchmaking services like speed dating are enjoyable for some people, but for others they can feel more like high-pressure job interviews. And whatever dating experts might tell you, there is a big difference between finding the right career and finding lasting love.
Instead of scouring dating sites or hanging out in pick-up bars, think of your time as a single person as a great opportunity to expand your social circle and participate in new events. Make having fun your focus. By pursuing activities you enjoy and putting yourself in new environments, you’ll meet new people who share similar interests and values. Even if you don’t find someone special, you will still have enjoyed yourself and maybe forged new friendships as well.
4: HANDLE REJECTION GRACEFULLY
At some point, everyone looking for love is going to have to deal with rejection—both as the person being rejected and the person doing the rejecting. It’s an inevitable part of dating, and never fatal. By staying positive and being honest with yourself and others, handling rejection can be far less intimidating. The key is to accept that rejection is an inevitable part of dating but to not spend too much time worrying about it. It’s never fatal.
Tips for handling rejection when dating and looking for love:
Don’t take it personally. If you’re rejected after one or a few dates, the other person is likely only rejecting you for superficial reasons you have no control over—some people just prefer blondes to brunettes, chatty people to quiet ones—or because they are unable to overcome their own issues. Be grateful for early rejections—it can spare you much more pain down the road.
Don’t dwell on it but learn from the experience. Don’t beat yourself up over any mistakes you think you made. If it happens repeatedly, though, take some time to reflect on how you relate to others, and any problems you need to work on. Then let it go. Dealing with rejection in a healthy way can increase your strength and resilience.
Acknowledge your feelings. It’s normal to feel a little hurt, resentful, disappointed, or even sad when faced with rejection. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings without trying to suppress them. Practicing mindfulness can help you stay in touch with your feelings and quickly move on from negative experiences.
5: WATCH FOR RED FLAGS
Red-flag behaviours can indicate that a relationship is not going to lead to healthy, lasting love. Trust your instincts and pay close attention to how the other person makes you feel. If you tend to feel insecure, ashamed, or undervalued, it may be time to reconsider the relationship.
Common relationship red flags:
The relationship is alcohol dependent. You only communicate well—laugh, talk, make love—when one or both of you are under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
There’s trouble making a commitment. For some people commitment is much more difficult than others. It’s harder for them to trust others or to understand the benefits of a long-term relationship because of previous experiences or an unstable home life growing up.
Jealousy about outside interests. One partner doesn’t like the other spending time with friends and family members outside of the relationship.
Controlling behaviour. There is a desire on the part of one person to control the other and stop them from having independent thoughts and feelings.
The relationship is exclusively sexual. There is no interest in the other person other than a physical one. A meaningful and fulfilling relationship depends on more than simply good sex.
No one-on-one time. One partner only wants to be with the other as part of a group of people. If there’s no desire to spend quality time alone with you, outside of the bedroom, it can signify a greater issue.
6: DEAL WITH TRUST ISSUES
Mutual trust is a cornerstone of any close personal relationship. Trust doesn’t happen overnight; it develops over time as your connection with another person deepens. However, if you’re someone with trust issues—someone who’s been betrayed, traumatized, or abused in the past—then you may find it impossible to trust others and find lasting love.
If you have trust issues, your romantic relationships will be dominated by fear—fear of being betrayed by the other person, fear of being let down, or fear of feeling vulnerable. But it is possible to learn to trust others. By working with the right therapist or in a supportive group therapy setting, you can identify the source of your mistrust and explore ways to build richer, more fulfilling relationships.
7: NURTURE YOUR BUDDING RELATIONSHIP
Finding the right person is just the beginning of the journey, not the destination. In order to move from casual dating to a committed, loving relationship, you need to nurture that new connection.
To nurture your relationship:
Invest in it. No relationship will run smoothly without regular attention, and the more you invest in each other, the more you’ll grow. Find activities you can enjoy together and commit to spending the time to partake in them, even when you’re busy or stressed.
Communicate openly. Your partner is not a mind reader, so tell them how you feel. When you both feel comfortable expressing your needs, fears, and desires, the bond between you will become stronger and deeper.
Resolve conflict by fighting fair. No matter how you approach the differences in your relationship, it’s important that you aren’t fearful of conflict. You need to feel safe to express the issues that bother you and to be able to resolve conflict without humiliation, degradation, or insisting on being right.