Tips for dating in 2021
Are you getting back into dating after a long time? Maybe you were in a long-term or monogamous relationship or taking an intentional dating break, or are dating in a new way (e.g. ethical non-monogamy, hook-ups, exploring queerness). Approaching dating again might feel both intimidating and exciting. And it is exciting to think of the possibilities of pleasure, partnership, connection, and sex. Getting to know new people is fun and can help us learn about ourselves too. Approaching dating again might also bring up concerns about rejection, being desirable, getting the type of connection you're looking for, sexual performance insecurities, and communication. You're not in this alone, though. We've got your back with these tips to get back into the swing of things.
Here are some questions to start to think about before jumping back into dating:
- What are you excited about?
- What are you worried about?
- How do you want to meet people? Are you open to online dating or do you prefer in-person? A mixture of both?
- What do you feel you need to feel physically and emotionally safe? (e.g. what sexual barriers are important to you, how do you want to meet someone for the first time?) Read this tips for Sexier Safer Sex blog for some help to figure out.
- What are characteristics (physical and personality) that you find attractive in people, and why do you find them attractive?
- How much time do you really have for emotional and/or physical dating?
- What are you offering and what are you looking for? For example: friendship and fun sex, looking for the same, or kinky and creative looking for a long-term dynamic. Get specific with yourself and your interests, and be honest and upfront about them.
If you don’t have all the answers to all the questions, that’s totally okay! You can explore dating and observe yourself and learn more about what you want and don’t want.
Dealing with rejection
It’s inevitable that you’re going to face rejection on dating apps. From first dates with no chemistry, to being ghosted on a dating app, to being broken up with. Rejection is never easy, but here are some tips for managing rejection:
- Accept rejection from other people, peacefully. Avoid trying to convince them or get an explanation or keep pursuing the relationship.
- It’s okay to feel upset, hurt, or even abandoned. Take some time to be tender with yourself, talk about it with friends or a therapist or try to soothe yourself with things that make you feel safe, comforted and calm. If you need to eat a tub of ice cream and watch bad rom-coms for a night, do it!
- Reflect on what you wanted that was different than what they wanted, and take away any insights about yourself for next time.
Managing dating burnout
Dating can take up a lot of energy. You might find yourself constantly on your phone swiping, responding to messages, and making plans. This is all very exciting, but it can also be very exhausting. Dating burnout can also happen if you’re constantly facing rejection and not matching with anyone, or you're not connecting with people, or even just because you've been on a lot of dates in a short period of time! Don't get down on yourself if you need some time to recharge.
Here are some ideas on self-care for dating:
- Pay attention to how much time you spend on dating apps and if it makes you feel nourished or depleted.
- Take breaks from dating apps— turn off your visibility or subscriptions and re-activate your profile when you feel re-energized for dating.
- Take yourself on dates—make nice dinner for yourself, take yourself out for a hike, or take a new class. Keep that connection to yourself. Dating is about self-love too!
- Check-in with your dating standards—it’s easy for them to lower if you feel frustrated or begin to feel like you are not desirable. Ask yourself how you want to feel around someone, if you’ve been compromising or editing yourself for others, and what inspires you to feel emotionally and physically safe.
- Include self-pleasure—masturbation is a form of self-care and has lots of benefits.
Some dating advice promotes heteronormative ideas about dating and ‘rules’ for dating—for example, how long you should wait to have sex or who should ask who out. This can lead to adopting manipulative behaviours, a lack of empathy, and feeling like you have to present a certain version of yourself in order to feel desirable.
You have the option to focus on how you want to feel while dating. Focusing on your experience, how you’re treated and what needs or desires are being met can be more valuable. Dating can be a great way to connect with other people AND learn more about yourself!
So go out there, love yourself, be open, and have fun!