Rather than having a specific end goal in mind, Reyes suggests a little perspective shift: “Opening yourself up to dating can put you in the headspace of, ‘I’m going to meet some cool people. Some of them are going to be a fun story to tell my friends later, and maybe one will be my next love interest, and I’m okay with both of those,’” she says,
So even if there’s no romantic spark, think of it this way: Maybe you’ve gained a new friend who shares your passion for watching professional tennis. Or, you walked out of that awkward cafe meet-up having discovered the perfect work-from-home spot. Seeing dating as an opportunity to experience and learn new things can make it fun—no matter how well (or poorly) the date itself goes.
3. Start with low-pressure date activities that you’d enjoy doing solo.
Unless you’re a gourmet food critic, that fine-dining French restaurant you’ve never been to probably isn’t the best place to feel relaxed with someone who’s basically a stranger. “First dates don’t have to be extravagant or out of your comfort zone,” Reyes says. “People always think they have to go out to a crowded bar, for example, even if they’re not the type of person to enjoy those things.”
To make an already unnerving situation a little less intimidating, stick to what you’re already comfortable with. “If you’re a foodie, go out to eat at the restaurants you would recommend to a friend,” Reyes suggests. Or, if bookstores are your happy place, maybe sip tea in the cozy cafe inside Barnes & Noble (or an indie shop you love) and chat in the fiction aisle together. Being somewhere familiar can help you feel safer and more at ease during what’s probably a new and uncertain experience, she adds.
4. Don’t let one bad apple spoil your dating fun.
No matter how thorough you are in screening for red flags and making sure your Friday night dinner companion seems alright, chances are you’ll still experience at least one date from hell (like that jerk who made a fat joke or showed up an hour late). But, as tempting as it is to call it quits for good, don’t throw in the towel just yet.
“Go into the dating process by trying to recognize that there are really wonderful people out there—and there are really shitty, awful ones, too,” Reyes says. “Because realistically, your experiences might not all be good. They may be exhausting and leave you thinking of your ex more than ever.”
Acknowledging that not every encounter will be rom-com worthy can help you set realistic expectations and prevent you from being blindsided or discouraged, Dr. Le Goy adds. Besides, even a terrible date can teach you about your deal-breakers (like someone who’s always on their phone, perhaps)—which, on the bright side, gets you one step closer to finding someone who ticks all your boxes.
5. Try not to compare your dates to your past relationship.
It’s tempting to tally up all your ex’s pros and cons and weigh them against your next potential partner. Well, this person looks like my ex, but they’re not quite as tall. Or, They’re ambitious like my ex, but don’t seem as far along in their career. Playing the compare and contrast game is just going to make it harder to meet “the one,” who might bring different, yes, but still amazing qualities to the table, Dr. Le Goy says.