I am not the person people usually turn to for dating advice, because quite frankly, I don’t have years of dating experience under my belt. But I am the person people turn to as a voice of reason. I have years of navigating the ins and outs of self-reflection, awareness, and love — at least, enough to know my heart well and be aware of my strengths, weaknesses, and temptations. And while I still run into my fair share of difficult times merged with self-doubt, I have learned enough through trial and error to know how and when to spare the heartbreak and heartache from the wrong person.
1. Trust your gut. You know that sick-to-your-stomach feeling you just can’t shake off? Stop ignoring it. There is a reason it’s there—it’s called intuition. And our intuition is pretty spot on, 95 percent of the time. So the next time you feel like something isn’t right, listen to your gut, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise.
2. Communicate. Be honest with yourself and your S.O. about what you’re looking for and set realistic expectations from the beginning. Share your love languages—get to know how each of you expresses and reciprocates feeling loved, desired, or happy. Don’t be afraid to have the difficult conversations. Be yourself and allow them to show you who they are. This in itself will save both parties a lot of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion.
3. If they want to see you, they will make the time and effort to see you. Just as you would make the time in your busy, hectic, and chaotic schedule to see or talk to the person you care about, it works the same on their end.
4. If they’re acting distant, there’s a reason for why they are acting distant. If they aren’t calling, texting, snap-chatting as much as they once were, it’s likely because they are no longer interested in investing time, effort, or energy in “this.”
5. You can’t change someone; you can’t make someone suddenly ready for something. We all aspire to be the person who can finally change someone for the better. But the harsh reality is that sometimes it’s as simple as two different people wanting two different things who are just not meant to be together.
6. You can’t convince someone to love you. If things didn’t or aren’t working out, it’s for a reason. Don’t waste your time, energy, and vulnerability on someone who you know will let you down again. Move on with your life; pursue people and interests that bring happiness and passion back into yours.
7. Don’t continue to give too much if you’re not getting enough back. You know your worth, and if you don’t, take some time to be alone and figure out what you want and deserve. Everyone deserves the world—everyone deserves to feel loved, respected, desired. But feeling confident in what you believe YOU deserve is something only you can determine.
8. Friends with benefits is never a good idea if you know you want something more. No further explanation needed.
9. Learn to be okay with saying no. You don’t have to drop everything when they’re finally free. You have a life to live too. You have friends, family, a career. You don’t need to stop, drop, and roll for one person. Everyone loves a little mystery in the “getting to know you” phase of the modern dating game.
10. Don’t be afraid to be single, because it’s better than being in an almost relationship. Being single is empowering and invigorating. Why? Because you have every opportunity to pave your own path and create a life that is designed for you. You get to be selfish, ambitious, and rebellious in every way. If you ask me, that’s a hell of a lot more important and significant than putting yourself through self-doubt and emotional exhaustion for someone who isn’t worth it.
11. There’s only so many second chances you can give to someone. Learn to trust when your heart has had enough.
12. Don’t fall back; move forward. Don’t continue to go back to the person who hurt you. Don’t continue to make excuses for their behavior. When time heals all wounds and when you are ready to pick up the broken pieces, you pick your chin up, hold your head high, and you move forward. You move on.
13. Don’t fall in love with potential. This one hits the hardest. We all want to believe in and see the good in someone. We all want to believe there is a better side to someone. The reality is, sometimes you may just be two steps ahead of someone who just can’t get to where you are. And that’s okay. But it’s important to be aware of potential versus the reality of the situation.
14. There are times when someone’s true colors show, and when it does, take it as a warning sign. Whether it’s how they treat the waiting staff at a restaurant, how they talk to their mom on the phone, how they talk about their ex, how they talk to you. Take the moments when you do get a glimpse of someone’s true colors into serious consideration, even when you don’t want to believe that is who they are. In other words, don’t ignore red flags.
15. If they’re not treating you well when you first start dating, there’s a good chance that won’t change when you’re officially a couple. Respect yourself enough to know your worth; respect yourself enough to let the bad ones go.
16. Be honest. Be honest with your S.O.; be honest with yourself. If you feel like you’re not on the same page, just be honest. Say everything that is on your mind, because that is what adults do—they talk about difficult situations. If your S.O. wants to make things work, they will be open to finding a solution. If their response is, “Okay I’ll stop bothering you,” well, you have your answer.
17. Don’t dwell on the ones who don’t want you back. There is someone out there who is hoping someone like you will come into their life.
18. Don’t settle. Don’t allow yourself to discount your wants and needs for comfort and attention. Don’t allow someone to make you question yourself in any capacity.
19. Be open to accepting God’s timeline. If your social media feed is anything like mine, then I’m sure you’re constantly surrounded by engagements, weddings, and baby announcements left and right. As difficult as it may seem to put our personal timelines aside, sometimes that’s what we have to do. We trust that when God is confident that we are ready for something beautiful, he will open that door.
20. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, spend this time cherishing what you do have. You have time and plenty of it. Time to figure it all out, what it is you want in life, love, and your future; time to better yourself in every way. Believe that you are more than enough all on your own, and the right person will only bring out a light that doesn’t dim yours but allows it to shine even brighter than it already does. Cherish the time you have to figure it all out. Believe in yourself. Believe you are worth it, because you are.
The rest will fall into place in God’s timing.