OK, so this one sounds so cliché, I’m embarrassed to even write it. But I would have saved young, single Josie from a lot of wasted time if I had been 100% myself on every first date and at the beginning of every new relationship. I get it: You try to be all “chill” and “cool” at the beginning. You pretend you watch horror movies instead of the Hallmark channel, and you tell them you like their artsy music even though you only listen to Taylor Swift’s first three albums on repeat. Even if you’re still at the phase of shaving your legs before every date (ah, more innocent times), be honest and upfront about your likes, dislikes, and who you are. Not only will it save you time and heartbreak with the people who aren’t a good match, but it will also help the right person find you.
Focus on the present, not the past
It’s natural to bring your fears and negative experiences to a new relationship; after all, it’s a survival mechanism to prevent getting your heart broken again. But even if old fears and insecurities may prevent heartbreak, they can also prevent you from truly being happy in a new relationship. For example, if a past partner was unfaithful, don’t distrust your new partner just because of what an ex-relationship was like. Focus on the qualities that make your new partner different. If they’re trustworthy enough to date, that means you should trust them.
Likewise, while the “dating history” conversation will be an important one eventually, don’t rush into it. Spend the first few dates getting to know your partner’s likes, dislikes, dreams, and personality traits, while they’re getting to know yours. There’s no need to explain what went wrong in your last relationship on the first date or find out about their dating past before you know the names of their siblings and where they grew up.
Talk about the future early on
While you shouldn’t focus on the past, you should focus on the future, at least somewhat. Of course, you don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) ask how many kids they want before the salad course arrives on date #1, but you don’t want to wait until after one year of dating to find out that they never want to get married if marriage is a non-negotiable for you. It’s not always fun to talk about things like life goals, religion, marriage, politics, etc., but naturally work your deal-breakers into the conversation to make sure you’re at least on the same page as soon as you start to see a future together. Also, whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship or are looking for more of a casual fling, communicate it.
Meet Each Other’s Friends
Since the relationship is new, you may be tempted to keep it all to yourself. However, meeting friends early on is crucial. The way you interact with each other’s crew can give insight into your partner and what the relationship will be like. For example, if all of your partner’s friends are huge douches you would never get along with, you might not know your partner as well as you think you do (who chooses to hang out with douches if they’re not a douche themselves, ya know?).
Likewise, having your new partner around your friends can illuminate potential red flags. Your friends might see something that you don’t or your partner might not get along with them as well as you had hoped. If you both fit in seamlessly with each other’s group of friends, that establishes a mutual friendship, meaning you won’t have to choose between hanging out together or with friends when you all get along swimmingly.
Spend Some Time With Your Partner
A new relationship is incredibly exciting. So exciting, in fact, that it’s easy to get swept up in your life as new friends or couple and let the routines from your single life dwindle. Maybe you see your friends less often or spend less time on your hobby to spend more time with your new partner. Sure, it’s a great sign that you want to be together all the time, but spending all of your time together (and giving up your own independence and social life) could set you up for a relationship disaster. No matter what, make sure you don’t lose your friends or yourself. Avoid constantly texting or calling, and try your best to act like nothing has changed in your friendships (because it shouldn’t have!). You shouldn’t be looking for the person to share one life with; you’re looking for the person to share your life with.