Lots of people will tell you not to have “too many expectations” when dating. They’ll suggest that you “wait and see how it goes” before you decide what you want. Whilst an open mind is a vital part of finding happiness, a little structure can really help to get you there.
“Being clear about what you’re looking for will free you up to enjoy searching for it”
Setting dating expectations enables you to spend more of your valuable time with the right people who you can get to know and test the waters with. But setting your expectations – and managing other people’s – can be one of the trickiest parts of the dating game. So here are a few tips to help you work them out.
1. Know why you want to date in the first place
You don’t have to be too prescriptive, but it’s good to know broadly where you’re coming from. It’ll help you narrow down your search, to speak honestly about what you’re looking for, and to assess whether your approach to dating is working for you.
2. Make the most of what online dating has to offer
By dating online you’re opening yourself up to a much wider pool of people than any bar or club could ever offer, so make the most of it! If you have a clear idea of the type of person you’re looking for and the attributes you find most appealing, search away and you’ll find people who could be an ideal match.
If you’re feeling a bit more open to finding out what kind of personalities could complement yours, take the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life and to make connections that might otherwise not have been possible. More than anything else, dating should be a fun experience that will teach you as much about yourself as anyone else.
3. Don’t be constrained by your ‘type’
Lots of people come to dating with a preconceived idea about what qualifies as their ‘type’ of partner, usually based on previous relationships they’ve had. Whilst this can help you identify people you’ll like, don’t let it rule out others who could be perfect for you. After all, there might be a reason previous relationships haven’t worked out, so going off ‘type’ could be just what you need!
4. Be clear about your ‘deal breakers’
It’s useful to know if there are things that are just an absolute no for you. Non-smoker? Well, then a smoker might not be for you. Strong political views? Perhaps you don’t want to date somebody you’d be in constant political conflict with. While you don’t want to be too specific about the finer details and miss out on somebody great, if you know something just isn’t your cup of tea, it’s better to avoid it and speed up whittling down your search.
5. Be realistic
The process of finding a partner can take time. Many people go on a wide range of dates before finding somebody they want to enter into a relationship with, and that’s no bad thing.
“What’s important is that each interaction teaches you about what you want from the next.”
When considering your expectations, be realistic about how many people you might like to meet to give you the experience and insight you need to find somebody with whom things could get serious. This works both ways; be respectful and empathetic of other people’s expectations even if they differ from your own.
6. Keep an open mind
The great thing about dating is when it proves you wrong – when you think somebody won’t be right for you and then they turn out to be everything you never knew you needed in your life. So keeping an open mind is critical. Of course, don’t waste your time – give thought to what you like and what you don’t like, and where you’re hoping dating will go – but also stay open to possibility. Take a chance on someone different who catches your attention, or give an imperfect first date a second chance. Keep an open mind and you never know who you might meet or where a date could lead.
Charlotte is a communications manager, freelance journalist, copywriter and blogger who writes on relationships, confidence and much more! You can find Charlotte at nothinggoodrhymeswithcharlotte.com and @Charlottebuxto on Twitter.