dating-basics

Am I ready to Date?

We hear from a lot of people at loveisrespect who wonder if they’re making the right decision when it comes to whether they should date someone in particular, or anyone at all. The answer we give is always the same: only you can decide what’s best for you!

Any healthy relationship (romantic or otherwise) is based on trust, open and honest communication, respect and equality–and everyone deserves that. But there’s nothing wrong with being single! We know that society puts a ton of pressure on people to pair up, but every individual is unique and has different wants, needs and goals, so it’s totally ok if being in a relationship isn’t what you want right now. It’s super important to trust your gut instincts when it comes to dating.

We already have posts for people who are wondering if they should try to work on their relationship, if they should break up, and if they should get back together. And remember that whenever you are considering getting into a new relationship, each partner deserves to begin the relationship with a clean slate. If someone has done something in the past you can’t get over, that’s totally OK, but that means starting a relationship with them won’t be fair to either of you.

Be honest with yourself, and if there’s someone in particular you’re thinking about dating, be honest with them too. Of course, you can always chat, text or call us 24/7 if you want to talk it out. Until then, we’ve come up with some questions you can ask yourself to help you figure out whether or not you’re ready to be in a romantic relationship– whether you’re just starting to explore, or trying to date after escaping abuse.

Me, me, me!

  • Am I happy with the person I am and do I understand my own value as an individual?
  • What gender/s am I attracted to? Do I feel sexual attraction, and/or romantic attraction, or am I asexual and/or aromantic? What are the circumstances that cause me to feel like I “like” someone?
  • Do I know what I want from a partner and a romantic relationship? Am I looking for something casual, exclusive monogamy, or an open relationship, like polyamory? Am I choosing to be with someone, or simply choosing to be in a relationship?
  • Do I have the time to be in a relationship on top of any and all other commitments I have like school, work, family, friends, hobbies, etc.?
  • What kind of physical distance am I comfortable with in a relationship? Do I feel like I could create a healthy long-distance relationship with someone?
  • Do I feel strong enough to deal with rejection?
  • Have I healed enough from any past trauma (child abuse, problems with family, deaths, addictions, past abusive partners, mental health concerns, car accidents, health issues, etc.) to be present and give the kind of commitment to a romantic partnership that I would like in return?
  • Can I trust myself to respect the healthy boundaries of the relationship that my partner/s and I will talk about and agreed to? What do I consider cheating? How will we reconcile it if our ideas of cheating are different?
  • Do I know what boundaries I am comfortable with emotionally, physically and in regards to how and how often we’ll communicate, and am I able to articulate those to a (potential) partner?
  • Do I have realistic expectations of what being in a romantic relationship will look like? Am I expecting this partner/relationship to make me feel pretty/handsome, increase my self-esteem, cure my loneliness, make me popular, make my ex jealous, prove someone right or wrong, or make me get over a past relationship, etc?

The Potential Mate

  • How would my family, friends, roommates, counselor, coach, teammates, and other people in my support system feel about me entering this/a relationship? How much do their opinions matter to me?
  • Is the person I’m considering a relationship with someone I could see myself being friends with if the romantic aspect didn’t work out? If not, what does that mean for me/us? Would I want to be friends with someone I was once in a romantic relationship with? What would that look like for me, in an ideal situation?
  • What are my gut instincts telling me about the person I am considering dating? Does it seem too good to be true? Are things moving at a speed I’m comfortable with?
  • Can I trust the person I’m considering dating? Do they accept me for who I am? Do they treat me with respect? Do I respect them as an individual? Do we see each other as equals? Do I respect their choices? Do I respect their right to spend time with friends of all genders? Do I respect their opinions and worldview?
  • What kind of labels am/would I comfortable using to identify my and my partner/s relationship to each other?
  • What kind of time and effort am I willing and able to put into this connection? What kind of time and effort would I like my partner/s to put into our connection? Where would I be comfortable putting a romantic partner on my priorities list? Where would I hope to be on theirs?
  • If someone I care about deeply wanted to date someone exactly like this, how would I feel about my loved one’s safety and happiness?

Big Picture

  • What does security in a relationship mean to me? What would I need from a partner to feel safe and secure?
  • Do I have any health issues (allergies, disabilities, STIs, mental health concerns, etc.) or major responsibilities (like caregiving) that I should (at some point) disclose to a partner? What kind of health issues and responsibilities am I prepared to support someone around in a relationship?
  • What goals (if any) do I have for this relationship? Do I just want to have fun and see where the wind blows us, or am I looking for a spouse and co-parent, or something else entirely?
  • When I think of the future, can I realistically picture being where I want to be with this person? Thinking about my future and my goals, would this person be someone who would help me achieve those or hinder me?
  • What kind of responsibilities would be reasonable for me and my partner/s to have within our relationship? How will we decide who pays for dates? Whose job is it to remember our friends’ birthdays? If we’re living together, who takes out the trash or does the dishes or laundry, etc.?
  • If I have/had children, is this person someone I would like them to look up to and act like? Is this someone I would trust to take care of (my) children and have their best interests at heart 100 percent of the time?

Trouble in Paradise

  • Is the person I am considering dating someone I would feel safe ending a relationship with?
  • What kinds of issues am I willing to try to work through to keep the relationship alive?
  • What kinds of sacrifices am I willing to make for a relationship? Quitting school? Leaving a job I enjoy? Moving across the country or world? Financially supporting the household by myself while my partner is in school?
  • Do I know what red flags for controlling and abusive behaviors to look out for?
  • What would I consider “deal breakers?” (Ex: smoking, drinking, drug use, cheating, failing classes, getting fired, driving dangerously, not taking responsibility for their child or children, being disrespectful to friends, family or myself, not taking their own mental or physical health seriously, etc.)
  • How will I know if it’s time to end things? Who do I trust to get feedback about relationships in general and my own concerns in particular?

How will I deal with my emotions if the relationship comes to an end?

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