13 important rules for when you first start dating

Whether you’re 15 or 50, the beginning of a new love can be so intoxicating that even the most mature, well-evolved folks would act like they’re five.

It’s not a weakness. In fact, it’s part of the package when you’re falling in love. If you’re too sane when you enter a relationship, are you even in love?

But still, we try to do the right thing. We try to be wise not only to protect ourselves but to also make sure that the relationship will start off on the right foot.

If you’re dating someone new, here are some of the most important things you should and shouldn’t do to make sure you won’t lose yourself or the relationship:

1) Just go for it!

Should you message first or wait for them to send a text? Just go for it and send a message.

Don’t think too much.

Should you kiss on your first date? Just pucker up for heaven’s sake!

Don’t think too much.

The best way to deal with jitters is to deal with them fast so they won’t even have the time to marinate in your head and overpower your thoughts.

Time is so precious. Being brave saves time! Face your fear fast so you can then relax…or move on to the next.

When you feel scared of getting a date, jump fast even if you’re scared. If it doesn’t work out, at least you’re not spending another second worrying about it.

2) Don’t overanalyze everything

They didn’t laugh at your joke?

Clearly, they really don’t really like you so much. Maybe they just love you but not like you as a person.

Or maybe they’re a little dumb.

Hmmm…Can you really marry someone who doesn’t share your sense of humor?

So you go to Reddit and read all night about humor and compatibility. Then the next day, they mentioned their ex.

Hmmm…so maybe they still have feelings for their ex and you’re indeed just a rebound?

This overthinking could also be from something positive.

They joked that they want to marry you? Did they mean it? Was it really just a joke?

So you Google endlessly what it means if someone jokes about marrying you.

Don’t be embarrassed. All of us get very hyper during the first few weeks of dating. It’s totally normal!

But you know what? Again, you’re wasting your precious time!

Just recall all those times you obsessed about your crushes in high school– analyzing their every move, wondering if their kiss emoji means they like you, etc.

You kinda regret those times now, don’t you? If you can just take back all those sleepless nights, you’d have a year of free time!

Instead of spending countless hours thinking about your love interest, you’d really rather be doing something more useful to you.

3) It’s normal to feel insecure

New relationship anxiety is real and it can mess with our heads real bad!

We tend to put our new date or lover on a pedestal and wonder why they’re even with us!

Even if we try to hide our insecurities, they will eventually show. The same way their insecurities will become clearer to you day by day.

Instead of trying to stop being insecure right away (which is impossible anyway), forgive yourself and appreciate yourself for being human.

This is normal for new lovers as they still try to get a feel of each other and wonder if they truly like us and just how much. However, sorry to break it to you, but it doesn’t stop with forgiving oneself.

You have to be proactive to your well-being. Train your brain not to go to the dark side because hey, you don’t want this to happen until you’re 70.

Guess what?

No one can do it for you. You have to be your own cheerleader! Otherwise, even if you’re the most awesome person in the world, you’d still feel like a loser. It’s not good for you or your relationship.

Read up on the many ways you can improve your self-esteem or go to a therapist so you can assess and process things with a professional.

Acknowledge your insecurities (and other very human flaws) but make the necessary steps to manage them.

4) Pay attention to red flags

You should stop obsessing and overthinking but you gotta spot those bad behaviours.

Remove your rose-colored glasses when there’s something they do that’s clearly against your principles.

The first few months of dating is the right time to get to know someone and that’s what you should do even if you’re madly in love.

I know, I know. It’s hard. But we’re here to love better, and that includes ourselves.

Don’t be too in love that you let bad behavior slip.

Pay attention!

Pay attention to their habits.

Pay attention to how they treat people.

Pay attention to their communication style.

Pay attention to how they love you.

If your relationship is still young — say six months or less — then you don’t even have to deal with their crappy behavior. Just watch out for them and maybe discuss with them a little bit, but you’re free to go anytime you spot a dealbreaker.

Now I know that this might sound like you’re obsessing, but it shouldn’t be like that.

Enjoy every moment with them but make sure that you don’t overlook red flags. Most of all, don’t make excuses for them.

You have options. It’s better to let go of someone the moment you see major red flags than to just wait things out and regret them when you’re 20 years older and filing for divorce.

5) Pay attention to green flags

It’s unfair if you just pay attention to the red flags because you have to know the green flags too to properly assess your relationship.

If you just focus on the bad stuff, no one will ever be good for you.

Let’s say that one red flag you notice is that they’re quite lazy. But let’s say they have so many green flags like they’re very honest and patient and kind and smart and funny…

Acknowledge and give importance to their good traits the way you pay attention to the bad ones.

This will guide you later on when you start to get serious with your relationship and you’ll be faced with the dilemma of “should I stay or go.”

6) You should be able to just be your real self

Does your persona change when they’re around?

Do you notice that you’re trying to impress them?

Do you feel nervous when you’re with them?

It’s normal if you’ve been dating for just a couple of weeks but if it’s been over a month and you still feel like you can’t be your real self when you’re with them, ask yourself why.

Is it your first time to be in a relationship? If not, have you felt this with your past relationships, too?

Maybe it’s not you, maybe it’s them.

Do they subtly neg you? Are they too critical of how others look and act and it makes you nervous that they’re judging you, too?

Dig deep and really ask why you can’t be comfortable with them. You can’t be with someone who always makes you feel inadequate.

7) Communicate

You may be too shy to open up about your issues like the ones mentioned above — the red flags you notice, feeling like you have to impress them, etc — because you think it’s too soon.

You figured you’d rather just bottle up your feelings and deal with them by yourself.

You’re just dating and people who are at the beginning stages of dating should just keep things cool and casual, right?

Well…not necessarily.

Look, you don’t have to wait for six months before you start talking about these things because you won’t even get there if you won’t communicate!

And even if you’ve just been dating for a couple of weeks, you’re free to express anything to each other because good communication can make you grow — as a couple and as individuals.

Just make sure you communicate well.

Being able to communicate, negotiate, and discuss like adults is an essential skill. I personally wouldn’t date anyone who doesn’t have this superpower.

8) Slow and steady wins the race

Pace can make or break a relationship. No kidding.

Yes, be very into your S.O. but going too hard too soon may not be good for you or your relationship.

Let’s say you’re crazy for each other, like many other couples. For the love of god, don’t get married a few days after you meet. Or a few months.

Give yourselves the time to really savor every step of a new relationship. This will give you enough time to adjust.

For example, let’s say that your career is so important for you but all of a sudden, you fall madly and desperately in love with someone that you want to give up all of that just to be with them.

Months later, when the New Relationship Energy wears off, you’ll then start to regret your decision and resent your relationship. You might even think the relationship is bad for you.

Is it really? Probably not if you just took things slow.

Seriously. Let those love chemicals die out for a bit. You can’t make good decisions when you’re high!

Wear condoms. Don’t get married yet. Leave the door a little open and truly take the time you need even if it’s so tempting to elope.

9) Manage your expectations

When someone is new, we tend to idealize them. They can’t do anything that could potentially turn us off. Heck, even if they’re a serial killer, we might even still think they’re hot.

But once the love chemicals wear off, crash!

You will have to deal with a real person with real flaws.

Hey, you gotta manage your expectations.

Don’t expect them to be the best. Don’t expect that you’ll live happily ever after.

In fact, I encourage you not to expect them to be the one for you. Not expecting too much could make your journey happier. Allow me to explain.

Think of those times that you expected some special treatment — say it’s your birthday — and when no one gives it to you, you feel like shit.

But think of the times when you expect nothing and someone surprises you with a gift.

So you see? Managing expectations is essential to happiness.

Don’t be negative but don’t think of them as the one just yet. You’ll be surprised by the good things that come your way instead of being disappointed by the bad things.

Expect less but be hopeful. This is great advice in love and life.

10) Set clear boundaries

Do you hate it when they pry about your past?

Do they go to your apartment without asking for your permission?

Do they make you feel guilty for not inviting them to a family dinner?

Do you feel uncomfortable that they constantly ask that you share your passwords?

Tell them off!

You’re separate individuals with separate lives, histories, values, goals, and limits. If you’ve been dating for just a couple of months and they don’t respect your boundaries, remind them clearly and firmly that they should.

You are not theirs and they should respect you and how you do things.

If they keep pushing your button, it could be an indicator that they don’t know how to respect you and it would just lead to a toxic relationship.

Take care of yourself. You’re whole even before they entered the picture!

11)  Respect their boundaries

It works both ways.

It doesn’t mean that if they love you to bits that you have every right to be treated like a princess even if it’s against their will.

If they tell you not to call while they’re working, don’t call unless you’re dying.

If they tell you not to ask too many questions about their ex, don’t ask unless the ex is harassing you.

If they tell you that they are not yet comfy meeting your friends, don’t pressure them and make them feel like a loser for it.

Respect. Besides, you really have no right to force them. Zero.

12) Don’t lose yourself trying to impress them

This is a big one.

Most of us put our best foot forward when we’re dating. It’s normal for quite some time but if it becomes your life mission, it’s not healthy. Nor is it attractive.

It shows deep-seated insecurity and a lack of individuality.

We basically want to show them how awesome and deserving we are for their love when in fact, we should just be ourselves.

But there are some of us who can’t ever relax. They base their decisions on getting approval from their SO that they’re the best girlfriend or boyfriend in the world.

Do you want real love or admiration? Do you want real love or power? Do you love yourself for who you are?

Whose lens is more important to you — yours or theirs?

Hey, I know we all want to be valued but focus on you. You’re already valuable or else why would they date you?

Don’t wear an outfit thinking of their reaction.

Don’t make career changes to make them feel proud of you.

Don’t learn a skill just so you can be good together.

Don’t say you like gaming if it’s truly not your thing.

First, it will be too obvious. Second, if you break up (which is a possibility if they know how desperate you want their approval), you’ll have nothing left that you can truly call your own.

There’s no one else to impress but yourself.

13) Set goals for yourself

Don’t think of your future together just yet. Don’t think about how you can help them.

Set bite-sized, realistic goals for yourself first. Treat this whole dating thing as a crash course on love.

Be open to the lessons it will give you and cherish them because they’ll help you develop as a person.

Be excited in finding out how much you’re capable of loving another person without sacrificing yourself.

These goals are realistic and they’re for you. Save the “couple goals” for later!

Learning to find the right balance during the first months of dating could be challenging especially if you have limited experience.

During this time, you have to assert yourself, set boundaries, fight your urge to obsess, and make impulsive decisions, among others. But this is something everyone must learn to make better decisions.

Life is one big school and romance and dating are just one subject.

Enter this classroom with an open heart and open mind. Don’t sacrifice the other areas of your life just for this, especially if your love is still young.

It’s one of the most exciting things that you have to experience and learn from in life. Enjoy it but don’t be reckless. Oh wait, this should be the #1 rule!

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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