The dating world can feel like a lonely place. In fact, it is a lonely place—until it pays off. The path to true love takes you through the caverns of vulnerability and over the crags of awkwardness. It winds through a forest of mistakes and forces you to do the walk of shame. It curves and doubles back on itself and disappears entirely for miles at a stretch.
At the end, though, you reach the castle of partnership. This contains its own perils, but also many more nights on the couch. And pizza.
What we’re saying is that we get it. We’ve been there. That’s why we assembled these tips. If you’ve been struggling to find that special someone, try these:
1. Let Your Friends Set You Up
Many people go the digital route to find dates, but there’s something sweet about letting your friends set you up. These are the people who care about you most. If anyone can pick a good match, it’s them. Plus, whoever they choose already has their stamp of approval, so you’re ahead of the game.
Remember, you’re still allowed to have standards and be picky. Ultimately, this match is all about what you want, not who your friends think you should date. Just be sure your buddies know you won’t blame them if the date fizzles.
2. Know Your Deal Breakers
Think about what you want in a partner. A detailed plan will help you find someone who matches your expectations. Deal breakers can be small things like “must own a bed frame,” or more complicated stuff like specific political beliefs. You don’t have to compromise on these things.
When you’re honest about what you’re looking for from the beginning, it’s easier to avoid serious compromises later. You don’t need to share your checklist on a first date, but the sooner you let your date know what’s important to you, the better.
3. Put Your Phone Down
Once you score the date, don’t ruin it by checking your phone. A good date relies on lots of communication. Your date might terrify you with cuteness, but don’t wimp out. Dig deep, leave your phone in your pocket, look the other person in the eye, and find out if they have siblings or not.
Even if you feel like the date isn’t a good match, it’s rude to engage more with your phone than the person sitting across from you at the dinner table. Pro tip: Turn off notifications to make it easier on yourself.
4. Get New Hobbies
You’re more likely to find datable people when you’re involved in activities outside of work. You want to share interests with your partner, so it makes sense meet new people at a club, sporting event, or rock show—whatever you’re into.
There are also group-date organizations centered on events. If you’re nervous about meeting someone one-on-one, find one of these groups. Then, enjoy an afternoon of rock climbing or a game of kickball surrounded other people on the lookout for love.
5. Stay Positive
The biggest thing you can do for yourself when entering the dating world is to stay positive. Be confident in who you are and what you have to offer. People will naturally engage with you if you’re upbeat; they’ll run away from a Debbie Downer.
Okay. Take a deep breath. Relax. This is fun. Now go out there and get yourself some dates.