I’m sure you thought this was going to be a list of useful tips and tricks to help you succeed in the oh-so-complicated world of dating. And you were correct. It is a list, but it’s not about learning to perfect a certain type of etiquette, nor is it about remembering what not to say. It’s about why we need a ‘handbook’ at all. I constantly find myself watering down how I feel about things – in the past I’ve been told I’ll ‘scare him off’ or that ‘I’m hard work’, just because I happen to have opinions and passions instead of a desire to boost a man’s ego. I’m not interested in letting him think he’ll be the answer to all of my problems, or that he needs to be muscular and into sports. Relationships aren’t about needing someone to fill an empty space, but instead about being in a partnership and working as a team.
So, here are a few do’s and dont’s to get you through your dating days…
DO be yourself
A tired cliché I know, but an important one. Usually this advice is followed up with ‘…but not too much.’
The fact is, if they can’t embrace you now, how are they going to feel down the line when you’re sobbing over your favourite character being murdered in a trashy soap, or when you haven’t bothered to brush your teeth?
You don’t need that kind of negativity. Indeed, why would you want it? Being there through the bad and the good is what it’s all about. Many of us seem to know that this is true, but still insist on covering up the things we think are embarrassing, and hiding any flaws we have at all costs. We need to stop. Relationships are about acceptance and tolerance, not being a vision of perfection that lives up to every fantasy their partner has ever had.
I’m going to shock you now: we’re human. We have faults, make mistakes and can be irrational and moody. It’s completely normal and there’s no need to cover up any traits you have. If someone falls for a made-up version of yourself, things will eventually come crashing down. The elaborate lies you found yourself fabricating will be exposed, and then you’re going to have to explain that, no, you actually don’t have an agent, and you’ve never been on a private jet in your life. Whoops. There’s nothing worse or lonelier than pretending to be you’re someone you’re not.
DON’T water down your interests to appear more attractive
Seriously, don’t do it. Personally, I love hearing about what makes someone tick, and if someone can’t handle you having other loves in your life and hobbies you enjoy, then they’re not for you. Embrace who you are and don’t change for anyone. There are too many stereotypes about what makes someone attractive and what different genders should be able to achieve simply because you’re a female or male. That’s not the way life works – our gender doesn’t define us. Which means our interests aren’t dependent on what we were born as. If they don’t understand and aren’t willing to listen about the things that make your face light up, because they’re not viewed as ‘attractive’ or ‘cool’, you’re wasting your time.
DO wear what makes you comfortable
If you’ve never worn that tie in your life before, or your heels are itching to come off as soon as you’ve put them on, don’t bother. Everyone likes to make an effort, but dressing outside of your comfort zone will make you feel on edge, and subsequently more self-conscious than if you showed up to your date in what you thought looked good, rather than thinking about other people’s possible thoughts on your dress sense.
We all want to appear impressive and likeable, especially on a first date. But forcing yourself into skin that isn’t your own doesn’t do that. You have to like yourself before you can expect others to like you, and we all have the opportunity to create ourselves, so be confident in who you are. Don’t be a puppet and let someone pull your strings so that you can put on a show just for them.
Which dating tips do you swear by? Let us know in the comments!