So, you’ve gone on a handful of dates, and you’re pretty sure you found your person. Your besties are getting a little bored of hearing you gush about them, but TBH, you could care less — right now, the possibilities are endless for your budding romance, and you couldn’t be more excited. If you’re going to start dating someone new, note that there will likely be a whirlwind of emotions that can feel thrilling and perhaps a tad terrifying all at once. Before you get caught up in all the confusing feels, there are certain things you should keep in mind in order to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground.
One of the most important things to remember while you’re getting to know your new boo is to have fun. After all, this is one of the most exhilarating phases of your relationship. Every single experience you share and story you tell is totally new to both of you. You have so many firsts to look forward to together — from cooking a meal and cheering on your favorite sports team to hosting a party and hitting up a farmer’s market. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with nerves or obsessing about the future. But it’s oh so important to stay in the moment as much as possible because you can’t get these first few months back, and they’re bound to be brimming with memorable moments.
Here are some other things you’ll want to remember, too, in order to ensure that your relationship is off to a rock solid start.
New relationship anxiety is real.
Currently, I’m very grateful to be in a secure, healthy relationship. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some major anxiety in the early stages of dating my current boyfriend. I felt as if I was continually waiting for the other shoe to drop — and as such, I was hyper-alert to any possible sign that our relationship was going to end. If he was annoyed or upset about something, I immediately feared it was over. It was nothing short of exhausting. As it turns out, this new relationship anxiety is so real, and lots of people let their fear of abandonment creep in. Not only does this take a toll on your mental health, but it can also put a strain on the relationship.
Remember: It’s totally normal to be a little nervous when you’re dating someone new. Particularly if your feelings are very strong, you may feel a bit paranoid that it’s “too good to be true.” It’s good to acknowledge these fears, and even talk them out. But giving in to them slowly strips away your happiness, and your ability to totally open your heart to your new boo with reckless abandon. Try to keep in mind that whatever is meant to be, will be. Anxiety isn’t really productive, because it’s a fear around something that hasn’t even happened yet. Focus on being present rather than worrying about what’s down the road, and your relationship will blossom to its full potential.
Keep the past in the past.
We all have baggage. Whether you’ve only dated one person for a few months or you’ve had three long-term relationships, there’s no doubt that your previous experiences can shape everything from how easily you trust your new boo, to whether you’re skittish about saying “I love you.” Here’s the thing, however. It’s super important to make an effort to leave the past in the past. Every person, and therefore every relationship is unique. So, while it may be tempting to compare your new partner to your ex, it doesn’t do either of you any good. Additionally, it’s easy to start jumping to conclusions based on an ex’s behavior, but that isn’t fair to bae. They’re a different person, and they deserve the benefit of the doubt.
To clarify, you shouldn’t forget about the past — in fact, it’s safe to say that’s straight-up impossible. But if you catch yourself starting to draw comparisons to your ex or letting your past experiences affect your new relationship, it’s time to work on carving out a clean slate.
Be alert to red flags.
It’s super easy to get a bit blinded by love in those first few months of your relationship. When you’re falling for someone, there’s a rush of neurochemicals in your brain that make you feel something akin to an addiction to your newfound boo. As such, you’re laser-focused on all of their positive traits, so it can be slightly more difficult to recognize red flags. That’s why it can be helpful to identify a few dealbreakers that you can stay alert to, and check in with trusted friends or family members for their unbiased opinion if something feels “off.”
For example, if you know you need a certain amount of space and your new boo doesn’t seem to be respecting your boundaries, that’s something to pay attention to. Or, if you caught your partner snooping in your phone or lying about their whereabouts, those are behaviors that you definitely shouldn’t ignore. None of these issues necessarily warrant ending your relationship. The point is, it can be tempting to look the other way or minimize these kinds of problems when you’re in a new relationship because your excitement and happiness are so overwhelming that it drowns out your internal alert system. Make it a point to have those tough conversations if your new boo is doing something that bothers you — doing so will actually strengthen your bond and ultimately allow you to have a healthier foundation for your relationship. Most importantly, remember to trust your gut instincts. If something doesn’t feel right to you, that’s all you need to know.
Don’t fall into the social media stalking trap.
There’s so much to learn about someone when you’re just starting to date them. Social media, unfortunately, makes it all too easy to gather information about your new SO. But before you start eagerly clicking around their Instagram feed, Twitter history, and Facebook albums, try to exercise some self-control.
First off, it’ll likely be slightly embarrassing when you let it slip that you already know all of their sibling names and their high school football uniform number (woof). Secondly, you may actually jump to some inaccurate conclusions based on the information you find. For example, when you stumble upon pics of them with their ex, you may start making assumptions about their relationship that can trigger some serious insecurities about your own. You don’t need that right now. You should be focusing your energy on the bond you’re building, not one that your boo had five years ago.
One of the best parts about dating someone new is slowly getting to know them — all of their hopes, fears, goals, and life experiences. So, give your partner the chance to share that information on their terms, in their own time, rather than trying to play sleuth. Trust me: It’ll be more rewarding to hear about all of these things from them, anyway.
Don’t lose yourself.
In a new relationship, it’s totally normal to feel like you want to spend every waking moment with bae. But it’s crucial to keep up with your own interests, hobbies, and friendships, as well. Not only does this help to mitigate some of that aforementioned anxiety, because you’re not putting as much pressure on your new relationship, but it also ensures you maintain some of your independence, and that’s key to a healthy bond.
If fitness is a big part of your life, keep up with those classes on a weekly basis. If you had made it a point to practice playing guitar every day before you starting dating your current boo, don’t neglect that just because you’re in a relationship now. Having these kinds of outlets will help to strengthen your sense of self-esteem and identity, which will ultimately make you a better partner in the long run.
Without a doubt, diving headfirst into a new relationship is one of the most invigorating human experiences you can have. And here’s one more thing to keep in mind: You deserve every ounce of this nauseating bliss — particularly if you’ve experienced some heartbreak and hurt in the past. Embarking on a fresh start with someone new allows you to re-shape your perspective on romance, learn new things about yourself, and grow as an individual. So, trust the process, stay true to yourself, and try to enjoy the ride.
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