Whether you’re jumping back into the dating pool or entering it for the first time, you’re likely feeling equal parts excitement and trepidation. You want to find love, sure, but you don’t want to get hurt or waste your time.
Figuring out the best approach to meeting new people can be tricky if you don’t know where to start. However, gaining the proper knowledge will help you enter the relationship market with confidence in what you want and deserve. Here are six ways to date smarter this year.
1. Make Sexual Health a Priority
Conversations around sexual health are one of the most important ways to stay smart while dating. Before things take a bedroom turn, talk to your potential partners about pregnancy prevention and the birth control methods you’ll use. Options include birth control pills, condoms, the patch, shot, and ring. Additionally, you might discuss recent STI testing and your plans for protection.
Sexual health also means providing a safe space for intimacy. Both partners should be mindful of consent and how they will communicate their needs. A safe space should allow you to feel comfortable sharing your preferences with your partner as well.
2. Be Clear About What You Want
Entering the dating scene with a clear understanding of what you want from a relationship can save you valuable energy. Skip the agonizingly pointless first dates that are inevitable when you wander the dating world unsure of your end goal. Instead, be intentional about who can be on the receiving end of your time and attention.
Dating apps provide plenty of opportunities to get to know your matches before you decide to go out. Be thorough when setting up your profile, and take advantage of text exchanges before a date. You should also be upfront about what you want from any potential partners. Communicate your boundaries and be open about what you hope to get from your time together.
3. Practice Self-Compassion
Dating can be super stressful, so remember to offer yourself some grace and space to grow. Self-compassion shows up in numerous ways, both big and small. After a disappointing date, you could soothe your bruised feelings by taking a long walk, journaling, or enjoying a warm cup of tea. On the other hand, compassion toward yourself might entail setting firm boundaries and walking away from situations that no longer serve you.
Remember that how you speak to yourself matters. If you’re struggling with negative self-talk after a lousy evening, try to imagine you’re talking to someone you love. If you wouldn’t speak to a friend, partner, or family member that way, you shouldn’t say it to yourself.
4. Understand Your Love Language — and Your Partner’s
Understanding more personal traits like your love language can also help you connect with a partner. The five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving, physical touch, and acts of service. These love languages explain how you seek to be loved and cared for in a relationship. The internet is filled with resources that help identify how you express love and what energy you bring to the relationship.
Lavishing expensive gifts on someone who just wants a hug will be more likely to irritate them than cause them to swoon. In contrast, a partner who values gifts will be hurt if they’re not forthcoming. When you know what makes you feel loved, you can communicate that to your partner — and vice versa. Knowing how to meet each other’s needs and wants could help you take a new relationship to the next level.
5. Be Cautious About Disclosing Personal Information
Your safety should be a top priority as you navigate the dating market. Protecting yourself starts with being mindful about what information you share with potential mates. Never feel forced to provide details about yourself you’re uncomfortable with, especially at the beginning of a relationship.
A good date will ask questions to get to know you, but be mindful of the type of information they’re trying to get from you. Head for the exit if they ask for details like your home address or any financial information. Listen to your gut and err on the side of caution if necessary.
6. Share Your Location With a Friend or Family Member
For many daters, particularly women, sharing their location before a date is standard practice. Start making this part of your dating routine if you haven’t already, especially when you start hanging out with someone new. Most phones have built-in features to allow you to easily display your location to a friend. Sharing this information is particularly crucial if you’re meeting someone you matched with online.
Millions of people use dating apps daily. These services do not perform background checks on their users, so the due diligence is up to you. For added safety, check out the social media profiles and general online presence of your potential dates. Don’t hesitate to block and report any suspicious users if necessary.
A Smarter Way to Date
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to successful dating. A great date and relationship will look different from person to person. Start recognizing what you want and communicating that information to potential partners. Work to understand their needs and be willing to put in the effort to make the right relationship last.
If you are going on one failed date after another, don’t be afraid to take a break. Taking a step back could give you valuable insight the next time you enter the dating pool. Through it all, try never to lose sight of the connection and love you deserve.