The dating world can be tricky to navigate at times. From making a good first impression to deciding who pays for dinner on the first date, there's a lot of etiquette to learn—and oftentimes, plenty of awkward moments. But before you jump into this pool, it's important to take some time to ask yourself a few dating questions and reflect on whether or not you're actually ready to date.
If you’re ready to start going on dates and to find your person, it can help to know what you’re looking for in a significant other—or whether you're looking for a partner at all—and how you’d like a relationship to look. This can help you to determine what questions to ask and how to approach your relationship, possibly helping you to have the best chances at creating the life you want.
To that end, we’ve compiled a list of date questions to ask yourself and open-ended conversation starters that can help you confidently embark on your dating journey and increase your chances of finding the right person for you.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start Dating
Knowing the qualities you’re looking for in a partner and what you’d like out of a dating relationship can help you increase the odds of finding a good match and having an enjoyable experience. You may want to determine the values that are important to you, how much freedom you’d like to retain, and the level of commitment you’re ready to offer. The following are some helpful questions you can ask yourself before you start dating—helping you to avoid the date jitters as you start a conversation in confidence.
What Kind Of Relationship Am I Seeking?
When you’re dating, it can be important to have a clear idea of the shape you’d like a relationship with a potential partner to take. This may depend on several factors, such as your available free time, career, long-term goals, etc. You might be looking for someone to date casually and have fun with, or maybe you’d like to develop a more serious, committed partnership with someone who can keep the conversation flowing. Knowing the type of relationship you’re interested in can help you better focus your search and make the most of your time, prompting you to determine what’s the best way to get to what you want on the timeline in which you want it. It can also help you communicate your needs and preferences to potential partners once you start dating.
What Qualities Are Important In A Partner?
Prior to putting yourself out there, you might consider the characteristics you find important in a companion. Perhaps you prioritize compassion, communication skills or a sense of adventure. Coming up with a list of important qualities may help you better identify good matches as you go on dates—possibly helping you to avoid red flags and incongruent partners as you continue your search.
What Type Of Lifestyle Do I Want?
Before you explore the dating world, you may want to consider how a partner might fit into the life you lead. Do you have obligations that will dictate how much free time you can devote to the person you’re dating? Or a lifestyle or “dream job” that may be difficult to keep up with or plan around? For example, if you're focused on your career right now, you may want to find someone who’s willing to go out only occasionally and not commit to anything serious. Or if you travel frequently, you may look for a partner who wants to plan adventurous date ideas with you. By understanding your expectations regarding your lifestyle, you can find someone who will mesh with it.
What Values Am I Looking For In A Partner?
Try to take some time to reflect on what matters most to you and consider what qualities and beliefs you would like to see in a potential partner. This can help you attract the right person and build a fulfilling and meaningful relationship.
How Much Independence Do I Want?
There's no one-size-fits-all formula for how involved you’d like a potential partner to be in your life and how much time you’d like for yourself. You may already know how much space you like in a relationship based on past experience or other factors, such as time constraints.
The key to a successful dating relationship often lies in finding a balance that works for both parties. Determining your expectations ahead of time can help you be clear with a date about how much time you can commit to them.
How (And How Often) Do I Want To Stay In Contact With A Partner?
Communication is a key aspect of relationships, but figuring out how much interaction works for both parties can be challenging. Some people thrive on frequent interactions, while others prefer more intermittent contact.
Additionally—whether you enjoy speaking on the phone, texting, emailing, or using other channels—determining your communication style within a relationship can be important. It can help you better determine how you’ll stay connected with someone you’re dating and avoid complications later on. For example, if a potential partner likes to text throughout the day, but you’re not comfortable being in such close contact, you can set expectations regarding communication that work for both of you.
What Level Of Commitment Can I Offer?
Are you ready for a long-term relationship, or do you want to keep things more casual? Prior to getting involved with another person, it can help to be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to commit to. Mismatched expectations can lead to hurt feelings and tension while dating. Knowing how much commitment you’re willing to offer can help you be upfront and honest once you start meeting people.
What Kind Of Emotional Connection Am I Looking For?
Maybe you're looking for someone who will listen to you when you're feeling down or whom you can lean on during tough times. Or perhaps you want to date someone who will encourage you to be your best self and challenge you to grow emotionally.
Ask yourself whether you frequently give and receive emotional support and validation in a relationship or prefer a more independent approach. This can help you match with someone who meets your needs. For example, if emotional vulnerability is important to you, dating someone who frequently encourages you to open up may be ideal.
You might also realize that you don’t typically discuss your feelings freely in a relationship. If you’re unsure about how to express your emotions with a partner, talking to a licensed mental health professional can help.
Exploring The Dating World With Online Therapy
For example, in a study on the efficacy of online therapy for social anxiety disorder—which researchers specifically mentioned can impair romantic relationships—34.2% of participants no longer met the criteria for social phobia after treatment, while another 36.8% experienced a reduction in symptoms. These results can be added to those of an increasingly large number of studies pointing to the effectiveness of online therapy for a wide variety of relationship and mental health-related concerns.
If you’re ready to put yourself out there but aren’t sure what you want out of your dating life, online therapy can help. Working with an online therapist through BetterHelp, you can address concerns about your romantic relationships from home, which can be helpful if you’re not comfortable discussing that topic in person. You can also contact your therapist outside of sessions; so, if you forgot to mention a concern about dating, you can send them a message, and they’ll respond when they’re able.
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