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February 2024

Returning to dating in 2024? Here’s how to navigate the messy feelings you may have.

What is dating? Notions around dating have become a lot looser over recent years. Many now use it for any situation or ‘situationship’ that you share together. For me it is the period at the beginning of a relationship when you’re getting to know each other. The time when you’re establishing whether there’s a combination of connection and chemistry. For those of you looking for a serious, long term prospect, it's the time during which you start perusing conversation and behaviour for each others’ values, interests, relationship goals and beliefs. Whether it's conscious or unconscious, you are sounding each other out. The core notion has not changed; the aim of dating is to see whether there’s compatibility there.

For some people, dating can be really exciting. For others, especially those who may not have dated in a while, it can feel a little unnerving. This is particularly true in the lead up to, and on first dates. Unfortunately, when we feel unsafe or uncomfortable we tend to fall into unhelpful behaviours.

What are unhelpful behaviours in dating?

Unhelpful behaviours are those things we often do when we feel nervous or unsafe. Meeting a new date can definitely push us from the comfort to the nerve zone. Typical first date unhelpful behaviours include things like:

  • oversharing

  • undersharing

  • checking phones too much

  • hogging the conversation

  • self promoting

  • not being curious enough about the other person

  • judging the other person

  • acting superior

  • not backing yourself to speak up

  • withdrawing when feeling overwhelmed

One of the best things you can actually do if this happens is to let the other person know you are feeling a bit nervous. This creates space for a bit of openness and vulnerability. Chances are, they feel the same way too. And owning how you feel actually conveys a sense of honesty, confidence and authenticity. Those are all things that help build connection.

A lot of this comes down to self-awareness. A lack of self-awareness can manifest itself physically, through sweaty hands, a flushed face, racing heart or tension throughout the body. It’s helpful when experiencing emotions of anxiety to pause, stand back and observe yourself. Doing so can give you a moment to respond with mindful actions, rather than letting your anxious emotions take control.

How to cultivate positive behaviours

Behaviour change takes awareness, courage and time. The first step is to take stock of your unhelpful behaviours that may show up and be intentional about leaving them at home when you head out on our date. This means growing the skill of noticing the things you think, feel and do when you are out of your comfort zone and in a vulnerable space. The unhelpful behaviours will get in the way of connection. In particular, identify your emotions, find where they are physically manifesting in your body and what the meaning of them is. When you can name your emotions, they will calm down a little to prevent them running the show. And then focus on your date and surrounds - get out of your own head. These 2 habits are a good place to start and will help you to show up authentically allowing your strengths to shine through.

I would encourage those returning to dating to stop and take stock of who you really are. Think about your future self, what needs and life goals you have, as well as what your strengths are. Know who you are when you show up to that date.

Self-investment at this point is also important. Dedicate time to maintaining hobbies and self-care routines. Have a think about your wardrobe and if how you present yourself really reflects you. If one date leads to another, maintain your own life alongside your dating life. Resist any urge to become completely absorbed by dating.

As the famous poet Kahil Gibran says on being together: ‘And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow’.

Looking for guidance?

Our recently launched service Compatico is designed to accompany you on your re-entry to dating. It takes a unique approach, relying on profiling, human intelligence, and personal connections. Our team of matchmakers are professionals in the art of profiling and relationship counselling. This holistic strategy aims to remove the fear of failure and destigmatize matchmaking, creating a space where individuals can embark on their search for love with confidence.

Compatico aims to be the very best safe, secure, empathetic and efficient service to help people who are looking for a lasting match. If you’d like to learn more, you can enquire for a complimentary 15-min online introductory chat here.