Dating, Considering Dating and Single Life
It is exciting to go on dates and get to know someone. Dating can make us happy, but it can also be stressful if it is not the right time or person. In this section, you can learn about things to think about before starting to date, what makes a healthy relationship, how to deal with a break up, and how to embrace the joys of being single.
DATING, CONSIDERING DATING AND SINGLE LIFE
Before you start to date someone, make sure you are ready for a relationship. There are benefits to being in a relationship, like having a special person to do things with. But relationships can be a lot of work so it’s important to be ready.
To see if you’re ready to date someone, ask yourself these questions:
- What are my reasons for dating? Am I interested in someone that I have been hanging out with? Am I excited about having a partner to go on dates with? Or am I trying to please or impress someone else? If your reason for dating somebody is not that you want to build a meaningful relationship, it may be a sign that this isn’t the right time.
- Did I recently end a relationship? After a relationship has ended, it takes time to move on and be ready to date again. You might think that getting into another relationship right away might help with this transition, but the opposite is usually true. See below for signs that it’s too soon to start a new relationship.
- Am I happy being single? If you are unhappy being single and think you will be instantly happy once you are in a relationship, this may be a sign you are not ready for a relationship. To be ready for a relationship you need to learn to be happy being on your own.
- Am I ready to be there for someone else? Relationships can be a lot of work. You will need to be there for someone else through both the really happy times and the bad times. Are you ready to support someone that way?
Your answers to these questions should give you a general idea of whether you’re ready to date or not. It can also be helpful to ask a trusted friend or adult these same questions.
Signs that it’s too soon to start a new relationship
Often, we find ourselves thinking about starting something new after a relationship just ended. It makes sense because we want to distract ourselves from the difficult feelings that come with breakups, but it may not always be what’s best for us.
Here are some signs that it is too soon to move into a new relationship right after one ends:
- I am thinking about my ex-partner all of the time and about our relationship.
- I compare the new people I meet with my ex-partner.
- I am still thinking a lot about my past relationship, what happened and what went wrong.
- I am not feeling like myself and want to always be distracted from these feelings.
- I want to post things online with the new person I have met, in hopes that my ex-partner sees.
- I am reminded of my ex-partner everywhere.
- I feel like I need a relationship right now, not want one.
Finding yourself the right person
After you have decided that you’re ready for a relationship, it’s important to have an idea of what you are looking for in a partner. If you feel like it’s the right time to meet someone, you may want to start by writing a list of the qualities you are looking for. It is important to think about qualities that aren’t only related to how someone looks. What personality qualities do you value in others –Sense of humour? Compassionate? Good listener? And consider what qualities in others make you feel safe and happy.
What is a healthy relationship?
There are certain signs to look for to make sure your relationship is healthy.
- You respect each other. This can mean very different things for different people. For example, you respect the other person’s culture or religion, and you do not force your own ideas on the other person. This also can mean respecting a person’s space, and giving your partner time when they need it. It’s important for both of you to set your own boundaries and to communicate and respect these boundaries.
- You trust each other. Trusting someone can be very difficult. It can take time to open up to someone about yourself. If that person is right for you, they will understand and support you as best as they can through your struggles.
- You can communicate and discuss disagreements respectfully with each other. If there’s something that bugs you about the other person, don’t let it build up! Sit down with the person and calmly discuss possible solutions.
- You accept each other for who you are. If you are in a relationship, you should accept the other person for their good traits, and their “bad” traits. You shouldn’t try to change your partner. But, this is different from encouraging your partner to improve and reach their life goals and plans.
- You both are aware of each other’s life goals and plans. You and your partner probably have things you want to do in the future or that you are working toward now. You are both committed to supporting each other, and doing what you can to accommodate each other’s plans (within reason).
- You are still independent. It’s good to still have your own schedules and activities outside of the relationship. Your relationship is more likely to grow if you both maintain your own identity and self-awareness.
- You make time for each other and do things you enjoy. Life gets busy, and having a relationship may add just one more thing to your plate. It’s important to make your relationship a priority in your schedule. Make time for the person you care about.
If you and your partner are struggling with any of these – that’s okay. Relationships evolve and no relationship is the same. The important thing is you both need to be willing to try to develop a healthier relationship that works for both of you.
Dealing with breakups
Sometimes relationships end. Breakups can be really hard and can happen for lots of different reasons. It’s normal to be upset and have a difficult time when a relationship ends.
Here are some ways to take care of yourself through a breakup:
- Lean on supportive people in your life. It feels good to talk about how we are feeling. Friends and family can be great to talk with about your breakup and also to distract you in healthy ways. It’s also important to think positively and not only focus on your ex.
- Take care of yourself. Do things that you enjoy and that make you happy. Stick to your routines and the things that you do to take care of your health. Stay busy and treat yourself.
- Let yourself be upset. Give yourself space to feel your feelings. Breakups are a process that takes time.
- Take time to be on your own. There’s no rush to move into a new relationship after a breakup. It’s important to be single and comfortable on your own. It is a good thing to take the time to figure out who you are outside of a relationship.
Dating and relationship red flags
There are some red flags to watch out for if you are in a relationship or dating someone. The following are signs of an unhealthy relationship that are never okay:
- Physical violence: Any unwanted physical violence towards a partner is illegal and never okay. Physical violence includes hitting, kicking, grabbing, pushing and intimidation.
- Unwanted sexual activity: You should never be forced into any sexual activity. Consent and respect are key to safe sexual activity and relationships.
- Emotional abuse or verbal abuse: Any comment or bullying that is intended to hurt you should never be tolerated. Another form of emotional abuse is gaslighting – when a person makes you question your reality. A person who is gaslighting may tell lies or deny they said something that you are sure they said. A “gaslighter” may wear you down over time and make you accept things they’ve said, even if they’re untrue.
- Manipulation and isolation: Your partner makes you feel guilty for spending time with others or tries to put distance between you and your family members or friends
You can learn more about abuse here.
There are many resources to support you if you experience physical violence, unwanted sexual activity, emotional abuse or verbal abuse. They can provide information and help finding support services.
Contact VictimLink (1-800-563-0808) if you experience physical violence, unwanted sexual activity, emotional abuse or verbal abuse. They can provide information and help finding support services.
Online dating safety
Online is a great way to meet new people. You can connect and build relationships with people you might have not met otherwise. But, it’s important to stay safe when you use dating apps or social media.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make sure you have a plan for when you meet someone from online in person. Meet them in public so there are other people around. Tell a trusted person in your life where you are going and when. Make sure you know how to contact someone you trust just in case you need help. For more ideas and things to think about, check here.
- Don’t give out your personal information online. Be careful not to share your address, identity and banking information. That includes not linking you social media accounts with online dating profiles.
- Unmatch, report and block. Your safety is the most important thing and anything that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable is not okay. Start by taking a screenshot of messages in order to report any person you are talking to on social media or any other platforms. Then, you can block them so they are unable to send you other messages.
Be aware of exploitation, sexting, and consent with online dating. For more information you can read our article on Sexting.
Also check out our article on Online Safety for more information.
It is okay to be single. It can even be really great! In the movies, media, and in public, we often see happy couples as the only way to be but this isn’t true. Happiness doesn’t depend on having a partner and having a partner does not define us as valuable. Enjoy spending time with your friends and doing things that you love. Those relationships are just as important as romantic relationships. If you’re single, enjoy your time being independent and awesome!
Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that may help.