Surviving the uncertainty stage of dating: 13 crucial tips

The second stage of dating – uncertainty – is said to be the make or break stage of your blossoming relationship. If you and your date decide to be exclusive, then you become boyfriend/girlfriend (or BF-BF/GF-GF, for that matter.)

But if not, you are basically ending the relationship for good.

And while this stage sucks, you’ll eventually get through it – trust me. All you just need to do is follow these 13 crucial tips:

1) Accept what’s going on

Maybe you think you’re a cool kid who doesn’t need to define the relationship. News flash: You may be cool, but you still have to work things out.

If you want to survive this rough stage of the relationship, you need to acknowledge it.

See, failure to accept uncertainty (or jumping to the next stage) will make it harder for you to decide about your relationship. Additionally, it can help you deal with what lies ahead.

The best thing you could do to be more accepting is to be present-focused rather than future-focused.

According to experts:

“If you are focused on the present rather than the future, uncertainty about the future is less likely to bother you. Obviously, your mind may drift back to wanting certainty and control in life, but just repeat the steps of being aware, not responding, and letting the need for certainty go.”

2) Know that uncertainty will only make things better

Infatuation, or the first stage of dating, can sometimes be deceiving. After all, you’re only showing off your best bits.

But when you reach the second stage, you get to ponder on the future of the relationship. Will you be comfortable enough to show them the real you?

Are you willing to be with them, even when the $#!t hits the fan?

If not, it may be time for you to pull the plug on this one.

See, uncertainty can save you from the time and emotions you could’ve wasted on the wrong person. It’s better to go through this early on than when you’re fully invested in the relationship.

3) Focus on what you can control

Uncertainty can lead to anxiety. But, in the end, this will make you dwell more on the future.

Sadly, it’s not something that you can control.

If you want to get through the uncertainty stage unscathed, you need to focus on what you can control.

That includes how much you share about yourself, the degree of sexual intimacy, and the life you choose to live, among many other things.

Are you willing to be transparent with them at this very stage? If not, then no biggie. You don’t have to – at least for now.

4) But don’t be afraid to open up!

Bottling up your feelings obviously won’t do you any good. But, in the end, it can make you explode into an unstoppable ball of fire!

And, since you have the freedom to control what you share with your date, you always have the option to open up to them fully.

Maybe you have doubts and questions that make the uncertainty stage even more unsettling.

Well, they won’t be solved if you refuse to talk about them.

It goes without saying that communication is critical. Who knows? Putting these issues to bed may fast-forward your relationship towards exclusivity.

5) Take note of your feelings

If you think that ignoring your emotions will do you good, you better think again. If you want to survive this stage, then you need to listen (and embrace) your feelings.

It’s what experts call emotional acceptance.

As Noam Shpancer, Ph.D., eloquently puts it: “Avoiding a negative emotion buys you short term gain at the price of long term pain.”

In a nutshell, denying your emotions will:

  • Put you in a state of constant hypervigilance (which is a pretty negative experience)
  • Make you deny the truth
  • Lengthen the anticipatory stage (will you or will you not continue dating?)
  • Narrow your horizons since you keep avoiding challenging times and situations

The result? You may end up doing that could jeopardize the future of the relationship.

6) But do try to remain logical

While accepting your emotions is crucial during the uncertainty stage, remaining logical is just as important.

For example, your partner may be giving off red flags, and you’re blinded by infatuation that you choose to ignore it.

According to author Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.:

“The heart can be idealistic, yet it can also be naive, casting off rational thinking… Logical thought and perspective can alert you to unwise risks, protecting you from possible harm.”

In the end, logical thinking can help you prepare for the consequences that your heart may otherwise ignore.

But do remember: it’s crucial to use both your heart and mind. The best decisions come when you take both into consideration.

7) Preserve your self-esteem

According to John Gray, Ph.D., author of the book ‘Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus,’ “ the most common way to sabotage a relationship in stage two (uncertainty) is for a woman to give too much, too soon, sexually.”

Like most ladies, you may have the urge to interrogate your date about the status of your relationship. Likewise, you may think it necessary to give in to all of your partner’s desires.

As Dr. Gray puts it, it should be the last thing you should do. Instead, you should keep your dignity intact.

He goes on to add:

“It is vitally important that a woman have a healthy attitude, good self-esteem, and be able to be flattered by his attention rather than compromise her position by trying to please him.”

If he wants to pull away, then let him be. In fact, this will make him more interested in you (think the adage the ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder.’)

8) Maintain trust

It’s normal to be doubtful during the uncertainty stage – the name speaks for itself, after all. But if you want things to get better, you need to trust your date.

According to therapist Theresa Herring:

“If you want a healthy, happy, long-term relationship, you’ll need to prioritize building and maintaining trust. Without it, other things—emotional intimacy and connection—can’t fall into place.”

Trust, after all, is the bedrock of any romantic relationship. Not only will this make you feel secure, but it can also make you feel happier.

And to achieve this trust, you need to:

  • Prioritize spending time with each other
  • Be committed and consistent
  • Be there when they need you
  • Be more engaged and responsive
  • Set boundaries as necessary

9) Don’t question if they’re right for you, ask if you’re right for them

Even if you’re dating someone great, you may end up wondering: are they the one for you?

Sadly, this mindset may make you think that the grass is greener on the other side (even if it’s not.)

This what-if scenario is one of the reasons why some relationships don’t go beyond the uncertainty stage. So if you want yours to progress, you should fight the tendency to ask if they’re right for you.

Instead, you need to ask yourself: are you ‘the one’ for them?

Do you feel comfortable with them?

Do you get along with them?

Do you respect them?

Answering these questions will surely make this uncertain stage feel more ‘certain.’

10) Leave your family and friends out of the picture…for now

Meeting one partner’s family and friends can be truly nerve-wracking for new couples.

Will they like you? Better yet, will you like them?

If you think introducing your date to your close kin will move your relationship forward to exclusivity, it might not be the case.

In fact, it may accelerate the end of your relationship!

As therapist Tracy Ross, LSW explains it: “If you feel a large degree of uncertainty, introducing them is not a good idea.”

Some may feel like you’re putting undue pressure, which could prompt them to exit the partnership prematurely.

So if you want to be on the safe side of things, keep your partner and family/friends apart – at least for now.

11) Have fun!

The uncertainty stage is no walk in the park. And, overthinking may cause you to despise the opportunity – rather than enjoy it.

Time is fleeting, so have fun while it lasts!

Don’t torture yourself. Instead, go out on dates and enjoy each other’s company as much as possible.

You don’t want to hold yourself back just because of the uncertainty you’re feeling. Dating is supposed to be fun!

The time you spend with each other will help you determine if you’re going to move forth with the relationship.

12) Distract yourself from time to time

Feeling uncertain often means feeling pain and discomfort. What’s important, however,  is that you don’t linger much in it.

Sure, you need to accept them, but you’ll want to clear your mind too. One of the best ways to do this is to distract yourself with activities that make you feel good.

Here are some things you ought to try:

There are so many things you could do to try and take your mind off this uncertainty. Remember: you deserve this too!

13) Trust that things will unfold the way they should

Nobody knows what the future will bring. And while you may struggle to control it, there’s only so much you can do.

When it comes to the uncertainty stage of dating, it’s better to leave things to chance.

As the old saying goes, things will unfold the way they should.

If you’re destined to be with each other, you’ll surely meet in the middle. It doesn’t matter whether you move to another city or date other people.

Destiny is destiny, so don’t force it. If you do, your date may just run farther away from you!

Final thoughts

The uncertainty stage in dating may be challenging, but you’ll get through it. It’s just a matter of accepting this reality, listening to your heart (and mind), and having fun.

So whenever you find yourself in a pickle, make sure to follow the tips above. They’ll help you get through it – and maybe even thrust you to the exclusivity stage (and further!)

Raychel Ria Agramon

I'm Raye, a nurse licensed in both the Philippines and the US. I also have a Master's degree in Public Management.

Just like helping my patients, I like to empower & motivate readers with research-backed articles.

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