Falling in love is beautiful. From the butterflies in your tummy, to the excitement and angst you’re likely to feel when starting a new relationship, the new phase in your life will undoubtedly be filled with many thrilling ups and downs. I love seeing people happy and in love – provided both parties engaged in the relationship are emotionally ready to be dating.
As many of you know, when you’re in your teens and early twenties, dating can often seem like a rite of passage, with friends, family members and even classmates asking all kinds of questions about your love life.
When I was in high school, I didn’t have any boyfriends, nor did any guy like me. Well…that’s not entirely true. When I was in the eighth grade, there was a boy in my class named ‘Lyle’ who had a massive crush on me, but he kept following me around and took secret, out-of-focus pictures of me when I was with my friends. I was more than a little scared of ‘Lyle’ and his seemingly stalkerish behavior, but he never spoke to me. Years later, he started denying ever having liked me, despite those weird pictures of my sitting against the school’s fence, while stuffing Bigga Naks in my mouth still saved on his Samsung E250 phone.
Nonetheless, whenever my friends would talk about their boyfriends, I often felt out of place. I buried myself in romance novels, but had never truly experienced reciprocal affection from a guy. When I was sixteen, I even lied to my close friends saying that I kissed a guy. They were in disbelief, which meant that I needed to keep adding to the lie when they asked me questions about who the mystery dude was and how we came to meet. I hated lying to my friends, and felt pathetic doing so, but at the age of sixteen, I didn’t want to be the one weird girl in my school who had never been smooched.
A few years later, I found someone to call my own and I realised that everything happens in its own time. Any person who wants you will love you just the way you are, and you should feel comfortable enough to be honest with them about the fact that you’ve never dated anyone before. Don’t get into any relationship if you feel like you’re not ready to be dating, that isn’t fair on you or your potential partner. It doesn’t matter how old you are, don’t be ashamed if you’ve never been in a relationship. When you’re meant to find love, you will!
Here are some things to consider before you start dating:
- Do you, boo
Do things that make you happy. If you like reading, join or start a reading club in your community. If you’re a good student, volunteer to tutor some of your classmates. Put yourself out there, even if you don’t meet the love of your life, you’ll gain a lot of confidence from interacting with new people. Before loving any potential bae, it’s important to love yourself first. During the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, however, with the contagion still rife, most of your interactions may have to take place virtually. Consider starting a book club for your local community on Facebook or another convenient social media platform, where users will be able to engage with each other in an interactive manner about their favourite books while getting to know each other. Get creative while staying home and protecting yourself from the virus.
- Don’t try to impress your friends
I know it can be tough seeing all your friends having loving partners while you’re as single as a Pringle, but don’t fret or start telling elaborate lies about being in a relationship. The more lies you tell, the more you’ll need to feed those lies. Just be honest and confident enough in yourself to tell the truth about your lack of experience with relationships.
- Know what you’re looking for
Once you’ve found a potential bae, it’s important to communicate exactly what you want from them. If you’re looking for a quick fling because you want to find out what being in a relationship is like, tell them. If you’re looking for companionship, without sexual intercourse or excessive touching, tell them. Don’t rush yourself or force anything that isn’t happening naturally. Most importantly, don’t go against your own morals and ethics just to hold onto someone. If you don’t know what you’d like out of dating, you can take things slow or simply rethink starting a relationship to avoid hurting someone who may really be into you.
- Don’t be a social media spy
If you’re interested in a certain girl or guy, it’s normal to want to know as much about them as possible and to be curious about what they share on their social media platforms, but the truth is, people rarely share their hard truths online. If you really want to get to know someone, speak to them and ask them questions about what they enjoy, about their dreams, ambitions or favourite foods. On Instagram and Facebook, you’re likely to find nothing more than how cute they looked in their ‘outfit of the day’ last Saturday or how much they love the Barcelona Football Club.
- Everything won’t be ‘wow’
The romance novels and Matthew McConaughey rom-coms say different, but when you fall in love and start dating someone, everything won’t be exciting and rosy all the time. Your partner will likely not play a guitar beneath your window under the stars or allow you to meet their parents after eight days, but that doesn’t mean your relationship won’t be special in its own unique way. Embrace your partner’s efforts and put effort into making them happy too!
- Be yourself
I know, I know, ‘be yourself’ is such as cliché. But believe me, it’s vital to show your potential partner who you really are as the two of you are getting to know each other. If you’re a person who studies and only works part-time, make that clear to your potential bae. If you impress them with a fancy dinner at the Westin Hotel and the next time you see them, you’re holding a ‘KFC Bucket For One’, things may get suspicious. So just put your cards on the table and be honest about where you’re at in your life.
- Don’t ditch your friends
Once you’ve found your perfect partner, you may be tempted to spend all your time with them, but remember to continue cherishing your friendships. If the relationship goes south, they will be your biggest support systems. Don’t lose yourself and everyone who’s important to you to keep your partner happy. Life is all about balance.
I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a ‘rite of passage’. Date people when you feel comfortable doing so. And if you don’t want to date and simply want to work on building your career for now, that’s great too. Love yourself and focus on self-development and the rest will follow.
Are you stuck in a toxic relationship? Learn some tips on how to leave here.
Tell us: Were these tips on dating helpful to you? Why or why not?