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5 Ways to Maintain Good Mental Health While Dating

On the dating scene or considering putting yourself out there? Check out our top 5 tips on how to maintain good mental health while dating!

Isobel Robb

illustration of a woman holding a cup and raising it to a man on a large smartphone screen who is also holding a cup and waving at her

Many aspects of our lives are now directed from our smartphones, and finding a romantic mate is no different. If you’ve been unattached at any point between 2012 and the present day, chances are that you’ve at least dipped your toe into the pool of online dating. You may even have tried what some now refer to as “real life dating” where—shock horror!—all of the action takes place offline.

Whatever your preference, the dating scene can be a lot of fun, but it’s also frustrating, confusing and downright demoralising at times. One should not head into this world blindly—it’s a bit of a jungle out there!

Thankfully, ManageMinds is here to play Cupid (if Cupid were BACP-approved) for you, as we offer some psychology-backed tips to help you maintain good mental health while dating. Bows at the ready!

1. Know your worth

In the fabled words of our lord and saviour, RuPaul Andre Charles: If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?* This is something you always need to keep in the back of your mind when dating. Whether you’re looking for a long-term mate or something short and fun, remember that you’re a person worthy of love and adoration.

We’re not saying that you need to have sky-high self-esteem in order to date. Everyone has insecurities and we all have days where we feel unattractive and unlovable. However, you need to do some work on appreciating your qualities and strengths and truly accepting your authentic self.

Dating without this foundation can lead you to accept poor treatment or pursue inappropriate partners. You may also struggle to cope with the inevitable rejection that is an unfortunate aspect of modern dating.

*Note: Some of the statements expressed in this article are strictly those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of ManageMinds.

A great way to boost your confidence is to repeat some positive affirmations to yourself. You might feel a bit silly, but a number of scientific studies show that affirmations can help people maintain a positive self-view. Want to try it for yourself? You can use our affirmations worksheet for guidance.

2. Date with intention

illustration of smiling woman with dark hair wearing a green jumper sitting at a table with a plant on it and writing a list

This one isn’t meant to cramp your style. The intention doesn’t need to be “I’m looking for a sturdy fellow with whom I can raise 5 home-schooled children in a quaint English hamlet” (though if that is your intention, start manifesting—no judgement here!). Dating with intention just means having at least some idea of what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to accept.

A good way to establish this is by writing down what it is that you’d like to get from dating. It can be as vague or specific as you like. This will look different for everyone. It might be a list of traits you find attractive in other people, or a list of things you want to try in the bedroom before you turn 40. See what comes to mind!

You should also consider what your dating boundaries are. In other words, what are the limits in terms of behaviour or options that you are willing to accept? These can be flexible, as boundaries evolve over time depending on your experiences and who you meet. Aim to strike a balance between protecting yourself and being open to new opportunities.

Dating aimlessly can be fun for a while, but it often leads to dating fatigue and feelings of hopelessness. Taking the time to figure out your needs and desires will create better results.

3. Accept the nature of the game

Maintaining good mental health while dating requires you to grow a thick skin. In theory, if someone you’re not particularly attracted to declines a second date or disappears off the face of the earth, you won’t be too bothered, right? Well, actually, these snubs can hurt, no matter who they’re coming from.

Imagine, then, how your ego might take it if you’re rebuffed by somebody you’re actually interested in! Against our better judgement, these scenarios can cause us to start searching for the wrong thing we said, or worse, obsessing about our inherent flaws that must have put the person off.

The fact is, in life, some people will like you and some people won’t. This can be a hard pill to swallow, but trying to be something you’re not to meet the desires of another person will not lead to anything positive. The best way to approach dating is to be yourself and try not to take rejection too personally. You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine!

Struggling to cope with the ups and downs of dating? It’s important to take regular breaks from the apps to focus on yourself and reexamine your wants and needs. After a couple of weeks, or even a few months, you can jump back in with a more positive mindset.

4. Calm your nerves

illustration of man with dark hair and a beard sat cross-legged on a bed in a modern bedroom with a large plant in the corner

Eminem spoke of his sweaty palms, weak knees and heavy arms from a tension-filled room pre-rap battle, but honestly, he could have been gearing up for a first date. Meeting someone you’ve been talking to online in-person for the first time is nerve-wracking. Some people are able to enjoy this feeling as anticipatory excitement, while others experience it as pure anxiety.

If you fall into the latter camp, it could be because you’re new to dating. Good news: newbie nerves are totally normal and will lessen as you go on more dates. If you have been on plenty of dates but still feel incredibly nervous before meeting someone new, chances are, you’re putting a bit too much pressure on the date.

Dating is hard, and sometimes, when you finally find someone who you think has the potential to be a winner, it can start to feel like this is your one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted. One moment. Will you capture it, or just let it slip?

What you’re going to do is calm down. First dates are always a little awkward, but if you’re incredibly stressed it’s going to be hard to be your lovely, charming self. Plus, even if a first date doesn’t go well, there are plenty more options out there!

We recommend learning some relaxation techniques that you can use to reduce your pre-date nerves. One of the easiest things to master is breathing exercises. If you can learn to control your breathing, you can keep anxiety at bay. Check out our guide to 5 breathing exercises and try some of them before your next meet-up.

5. Have fun!

Our last tip is short and sweet. It can feel like a lot of serious thought goes into dating, and it’s true that you need to consider your safety and wellbeing. However, in essence, dating is all about meeting interesting people and having new experiences!

Once you’ve taken our previous tips into account, it’s time to loosen up and see where the swiping takes you.

For more mental health tips and advice, check out the rest of the ManageMinds blog.

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