I think I write this every week but being a dating and relationship coach in New York City is honestly the best and most fun job. For starters, it’s so dynamic and always changing. I get to work with people in so many different phases of their lives and in their romantic lives. February is the month of love, as I keep seeing in the media, and I have a lot of people asking me “new dating” questions which I love to help answer. Who doesn’t love the excitement of possibility and new romance?

I think the funniest question I got this week was, “How can I communicate what I want when I don’t exactly know what I want?” That’s actually a very honest question. The purpose of dating is to practice, experiment, learn what we like and don’t like. Generally, to decide sooner or later if we want a more serious partnership or marriage with a person. It’s a means to explore and find out what kind of person we complement and who we’re emotionally compatible with.

Here are some #earlydating tips for those starting their 2020 off in the pursuit of a more fulfilling love life.

(1)   Check your dating stories and beliefs

It’s important to be honest and evaluate where you stand when it comes to dating. Is it a chore, something you have to endure and feel hopeless around? Does an interesting, shiny person distract you from those underlying beliefs, and when they let you down do you go right back into saying those same things? Before you “get back out there” do your best to reframe and re-write how you want dating to feel. After all, you deserve to have a fun day or night out regardless of the outcome. Dating can be a great place to explore your boundaries, to talk about yourself, your accomplishments, and what makes you interesting, to let someone into your life and see you, to meet new people, to see new parts of the city you live in, to try new food, and to get even more clarity on what you do and don’t want. If a date doesn’t go exactly as planned, what lesson or insight have you gained as a result? How, perhaps, was this person a reflection of how you’re currently feeling about yourself? What fears or anxieties came up that are ready to be examined or healed?

(2)   Have some go-to answers/activities/desires

When preparing for a date or meeting someone new I always like to advise clients to have some go-to answers about what they’re really excited about right now, what they’re turned on about in their lives. When we’re living in alignment with ourselves, in touch with our passions, truth, and what makes us “us”, we’re magnetic, and automatically someone other people want to be around and spend time with. Don’t have any good answers to those questions? Don’t know what makes you interesting? Think about what someone you love would say about you or describe you as. Or maybe hit pause and do some more personal exploration to get in touch with these parts of yourself before introducing someone else into your life. Maybe you just started taking a stand-up comedy class, started practicing martial arts, hired a trainer, or are training for a race, working on a creative project, having a new role at work, starting cooking or another new routine that has you feeling good. Whatever you’re excited about, be ready to share.

(3)   Own your ambivalence

“Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.” 

― “Alice in Wonderland”, Lewis Carroll

It’s ok to not know *exactly* what you want in a relationship when you’re out there dating. We are all on a deeply personal, unique journey that often can’t always be articulated or perfectly defined, but it’s important to recognize that exact fact and to acknowledge when you’re ambivalent – when you don’t feel especially strong one way or the other. For example, a friend read me a great dating profile bio she came across: “Not looking for anything serious, but I guess you never know”. That statement is the ultimate representation of ambivalence and that’s okay. The person owns it and you know what you’re getting into when you engage with them. If you are someone that’s VERY clear about getting into a serious relationship, you would skip past them.

You may have an idea that you want a serious relationship, that it’s something you eventually want to trend toward, but also very much still want to date a lot of people. That’s a perfectly fine place to be but know that people in your life may show up as that perfect reflection and be in a similar spot.

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