Dating can seem like an impossible quagmire at times. There’s no set formula for how to meet people or keep their interest, and sometimes it feels like a futile endeavor. That’s why we queried our dating experts on some of our pressing questions about dating. What we learned was that there are some universal truths to keep in mind, even if there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for finding your perfect match.
Here’s what our professional matchmakers and dating bloggers recommended…
1. The perfect significant other is relative
It’s important to think less about what you want and focus more on what you need. Once you let go of expectations, you’ll be surprised about what the “perfect” package might be.
2. Don’t fear your baggage
Absolutely everyone carries some emotional leftovers from life with them. If you meet someone without any, that’s almost more alarming than having a lot of it. Be honest and up front about it, and allow yourself to be vulnerable.
3. Ghosting is literally the worst
Whether you’re being ghosted or the one doing it, it’s rude. And lying always ends badly. Be forthcoming when something isn’t working out.
4. Throw away everything you thought you knew about date night
As great as “Netflix and chill” is, you need to get out of the house. Be a tourist in your own city by creating a bucket list of dates and working your way through them. But don’t rely on the old standbys. Movies, plays, and opera dates should be avoided in the early stages because they don’t give you a chance to talk and get to know each other. Similarly, avoid the easy coffee date — you want to go someplace that’s sexy and lets you dress up and feel special.
5. Screen your dates
No one wants to sit through a potentially bad date if it could have been avoided. If you’re online dating, schedule a phone date to get to know each other first. This will give you the chance to see if you want to take that next step to meet. But make sure you’re talking and not just texting — the latter leads to a lot of gray areas and distorted interpretations.
6. A first date is like a job interview
You want to prepare for the first date in the same way you would for a new job. Be prepared, know what you want out of it, and come up with things to talk about. Most of all, be your own your quirky, geeky, unique self, and pull down your walls from the start. Don’t spend the whole time stressing about trying to make the person like you.
7. Pick people who share your lifestyle choices
If you want to find the right person, choose someone who has the same values and whose life mirrors your own. Seek out those you respect, admire and adore — according to dating coach Laurel House, they should make you feel “safe, sexy and seen.”
8. Showcase your best self in your online profile
Be authentic to who you are in your dating profile. Showcase the things you love, smile, try to look open and approachable instead of like a staged version of yourself. You don’t want to attract someone based on a lie!
9. Be wary of your friends’ advice
Friends are prone to the same emotions we are, and that includes jealousy and selfishness. If they’re negative about your relationship, ask yourself if it’s because they genuinely see red flags or if misery loves company and they’re thinking more about themselves than you. They’re also likely to be highly overprotective, so they may be putting unrealistic expectations on your relationship. But if all your friends and family are saying the same thing, it’s time to take them seriously. They love you and have an outsider perspective you may not be capable of seeing from within the relationship.
10. The perfect date is what means the most to you
A date doesn’t have to be the fairy-tale dinner and dancing under the stars. It can be as simple as a stroll around the park, talking and getting to know someone, or a picnic in the grass with great conversation. Don’t let expectations of what something should be get in the way of enjoying something simple.