Love & Relationship

The Three Keys of Dating


Are you single and ready to mingle? Are you curious if anyone is “worth” exploring the potential? Here are a few steps to consider when entering the dating world regardless of the stage or your age. 


Expectations: A recipe for disaster or success?

Having expectations can be vital in the dating world. While it may be challenging to build your ideal partner in your head and find them in real life, some expectations can be important. Consider how you would like someone to treat you. Knowing how you want to be treated and how you would like to feel with a partner is essential to your comfort and security—especially when you think about moving forward with those individuals. 

For example, it may be important for you to feel “supported.” Spending some time exploring which supportive behaviors you value can help you develop that expectation. When you understand such expectations, you can allow yourself to eliminate people who don’t meet your needs. 

Other things to explore related to expectations can be values, beliefs, and ideals. Take some time to discover the importance and flexibility of these items and develop a standard that fits you. 

Boundaries: How important is it?

After developing expectations, the next step is applying them using boundaries. While this may be challenging, it is vital to set boundaries for yourself and your potential partners. Often, you construct boundaries to stay true to who you are and keep people in your life rather than push them away. Allow potential partners to know what you will discuss, want to do, or need to feel fulfilled. Without setting and implementing these boundaries, you may be put in situations that make you feel uncomfortable or underappreciated by someone else. Boundaries are good ways to increase positive interactions with anyone you wish to spend more time with in the future. 

Communication: It is really key.

You thought about your expectations on how you want to be treated, and you found ways to reinforce those expectations with boundaries. Let’s discuss how you communicate those expectations and boundaries. Sometimes people make assumptions about others’ understanding of expectations without taking the time to explicitly talk about them. 

While we all wish we could leave things unsaid and be treated with the love, respect, and kindness that we deserve, you must have a dialogue about the different ways that you like to receive kindness, love, and respect. By having this overt conversation, you are laying out your expectations and implementing your boundaries. As a result, you increase the chances for a positive experience for you and your date.

Final Thought

Maybe you are just beginning the dating stage, or perhaps you’re a seasoned veteran looking to explore the potential of potential mates. No matter what stage you are in, these strategies can help you have fun and feel safe while dating.

More than 1 million monthly readers look to The Gottman Relationship Blog for proven advice from mental health professionals to build happy and lasting relationships. Subscribe below to receive our blog articles in your inbox every week.


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