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Stay Sane—and Have Fun—while Navigating the Dating Pool

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Much like how you don’t have to have your career path entirely mapped out before you apply for a job, you don’t need all the ducks of your life in a perfect row before dating. If you’re ready to be a little vulnerable, you’re ready to date.

Date Like a Grown-up

Confidence is one of the most attractive characteristics to potential partners, and the good news is that you can cultivate it. Like smiling when you don’t feel happy, acting as if you’re confident generates the matching internal feelings.

  • Forget games. Leave manipulation texting and jealousy experiments to teenagers.
  • Be honest even when lying feels easier. Better to risk hurting someone’s feelings than perpetuate an untruth.
  • Set your boundaries and stick to them. Examples could be both of you getting a COVID test before you meet the first time, not meeting at restaurants without healthy options, or having dates visit your home only when your kids aren’t there. 
  • Know your deal-breakers. Smoking, political beliefs, vaccinations, or impassioned pizza opinions: get clear on what you will and won’t compromise on.
  • Don’t waste time on the wrong ones. Life’s too short to “be nice” when you know the relationship isn’t going to work out. Don’t ignore any red flags. It’s much better to be single than to wish you were single.

Put Yourself Out There

It’s a proven fact that the odds of having a chance encounter while sitting on your couch watching Netflix are extraordinarily low. You must get out of your comfort zone and meet people where they are—literally. Love hiking? Join a hiking club. Always go to the same Friday night happy hour? Try a different locale. Stuck for ideas? Get a puppy.

App is not a Four-Letter Word

Everyone’s doing it. There are apps based on religion, love of food, or preference for facial hair; apps that utilize machine learning to continually refine your matches and apps that use location information to alert you that the attractive stranger who’s always ahead of you in the latté line is single, too. Be honest about who you are, seek people with similar values, and have fun with it. Here are some app reviews and comparisons.

There’s a Pro for That

Dating coaches and matchmakers can provide valuable insight and connections, especially if what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working. An objective perspective can identify blind spots and help you become a better human being along the way. An International Coaching Federation (ICF) certification vets a dating coach. Matchmakers can show you their proven track records.