In Search of a Healthy Relationship
There is no way to avoid taking emotional risks when dating. Give yourself support, and seek out support from others as you do this. Be gentle with yourself. Get extra help (counseling) if you need it as you would for any other important area in your life. Good luck.
- Plan out dating as you would any other important area of your life. Commit yourself to taking the time and energy to finding people that are right for you to date. Don’t expect for it to be bumpy, but don’t be surprised if it is.
- Remember dating is a numbers game. You may need to meet several (10-20) new people before finding someone that you really click with. EXTRA TIP: Every time you go to an event or meeting have some goals in mind such as introducing yourself to three people, starting two conversations, smiling and making eye contact with everyone you meet. This will help you greatly in your search for a healthy relationship.
- Plan to participate in one or more social activities one or two times a week every single week of your life until you are in a serious relationship.
- Use multiple sources for meeting new people. Focusing on more than one way of meeting someone to be in a healthy relationship with can open up many more possibilities and help you feel better about the search for a healthy relationship.
Ideas for Meeting Other Single People
- Classes: Cooking, photography, yoga, creative writing, dancing, etc. These classes can be found at community colleges, city recreation centers, adult education programs and many private organizations.
- Sports: Soccer, volleyball, tennis, dancing, baseball, biking, rafting, roller-blading, canoeing, etc. If you do not know where to find the locale of a particular sports activity, find a local store that sells the equipment for that sport and ask the salespeople.
- Online Dating: There are many online services to choose from. Proceed cautiously, if you agree to meet the person. Talk on the phone first then meet briefly in a public place. Do not give out any personal information such as your full name, address, place of work, etc. until you know the person first. If you are a teen tell your parents and a few close friends if you are planning to meet a stranger. Let the stranger know that you have done this.
- Communities: Many single people these days belong to a community of people with similar interests who like to participate together in a particular activity. These are often warm and friendly places to meet new people. Meditation, Sierra Club, biking, book groups, self-help activities such as 12 step programs, online communities.
- Volunteer Work: Food banks, Children’s shelters, service clubs, etc.
More Help For Finding A Healthy Relationship
Practice one of the relaxation strategies described in the section on managing stress and anxiety everyday. (click here)
- Read the section on this website on handling rejection and try to understand your own feelings about rejection before you begin the dating process. (click here)
- Once you are attending your activities on a regular basis, begin to ask people out one after the other. Usually coffee or lunch dates work best for a first date. Start by chatting with the new person about the activity you are both participating in, then casually ask if the person would like to get together some other time. (This works if you are a man or a woman.) If you are a woman and would rather go the traditional route then just let the person know that you like them and would like to get to know them better.
- Before you go out: Sit down, do your relaxation exercise and visualize how you would like the date to go. This should be a positive visualization and you should create the visualization in such a way that you enjoy the experience. Doing this helps your mind prepare for the date.
- Going out: When you go out on a date, be curious about the other person and use this curiosity to focus on whether or not you like the person. Ask questions and create conversation out of mutual interests even if you do not know much about the subject at hand. Since you have been sharing an activitity together you already have the basis for a conversation. Allow for some quiet awkward moments during this date, it always happens.
- The next date or dates: Once you find someone that you have connection and some chemistry with, follow up with phone calls or e-mails just to get to know the person. (At this point you need to be prepared for rejection, this is often the toughest part of dating.) Remember you are building a connection with this person and regular communication is essential.
- Go slow, not fast when meeting new people and beginning a relationship. In the first few months of a relationship see the new person only once or twice a week until you understand more about the potential for a healthy relationship with this new person. During this time, it is better to postpone sexual involvement in order to maintain your objective.
The tips above are provided to give you a general structure and guidelines to follow in dating. It is often very stressful to date or to try to date when you are shy.
See also how you can create a personal Relationship Search Plan
If you find that you are unable to complete any of the tasks above, or if you become very distressed when attempting to complete these tasks, have panic attacks, or severe anxiety, I recommend that you work with a psychotherapist when using the tips. Counseling can offer you much needed support as you go through the dating process and can also, in some cases help you speed up the process of meeting new people.