When it comes to dating, everybody has different preferences and so the world of meeting people, romance and sex can seem a minefield. Knowing how to start dating might just seem too daunting. Whether you prefer meeting people on dating apps, through friends or by chance on a night out. Or whether you prefer going for a couple of drinks, a candlelit dinner to the movies, the possibilities for dating and what someone likes are endless.
These days, the term ‘dating’ covers a range of encounters; So, let’s start with the basics and say that simply put a ‘date’ is a pre-arrange period of time spent with another person.
Here at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor we’ve taken some of the weight off your hands, exploring different styles of dating. We’ve looked at how to make dates exciting and some sexual health tips that could be of great use if, fingers crossed, your foray into dating turns out to be a success.
Why is modern dating so hard?
While dating is supposed to be fun, the idea that is easy can be misleading, as it takes time, effort, and often money, to really get involved in the dating scene and involved with another person. It can take a lot of energy to be your ‘best self’ when you are meeting potential matters – no matter if they are friends of friends or a match from an app.
You could be forgiven for thinking that with the advent of dating apps, dating has become a whole lot easier – think of all the people you now have access to, particularly if you are on the urban dating scene! A recent study shows that 45% of 16-34-year-olds in the UK have used a dating app at some point, but 37% would say it is their least preferred method of meeting a new partner. Many young people argue that these apps have made dating significantly harder. The amount of choice means commitment, people assume their matches are dating other people and these relationships are 28% more likely to end in a split in the first year.
When you do find someone to take on a date, the rules’ around who asks who, where you go, how it ends, what happens next out of the window, knowing even how to start dating can be a big hurdle to overcome. But it is important to remember, despite the endless depictions of perfect dates on soaps, series and films, dating isn’t about conforming to heteronormative stereotypes – phew!
Ways to meet new people
The first step toward successful dating, is meeting people you would actually like to date. This might mean meeting completely new people or exploring the options you have around you, whether that be friends, colleagues or friends of friends. Here are some of our top tips for meeting new people:
Being social – No doubt the best way to meet and build up a rapport with new people is by going out and being social. Saying yes to hanging out with your friends and their friends, party invites and work events are all sure-fire ways to meet new people. Even if there isn’t anyone who catches your eye, it’s a great way to get used to socialising with people outside of your friendship group, and from all different walks of life.
Join a club/team – It’s often handy if you and a potential partner have shared interests. Joining a sports team or signing up to a regular class (perhaps salsa or an art course), is a great way of mingling with people who have similar interests to you.
Try online dating – Even though it might be scary, and can make dating hard for some people, online dating can be a great way to engage with people you would never usually come across. For people who find approaching someone in a bar or café terrifying, matching on an app and exchanging messages prior to meeting might help relieve any anxieties around dating. Be assured, dating sites and apps have come a long way in the past decade and for some people online dating is now the go-to method for finding love. It’s not simply a way of finding casual sex – the popular app Bumble has reportedly facilitated 20,000 marriages since its launch in 2014.
Most importantly be confident. Finding someone you think you might like to get to know better is half the battle in the world of dating, so be upfront and honest and ask them out!
Be creative with dates
Once you’ve found someone you would like to take on a date, the next big question is what on earth do you do with them?
If you believe the film industry, the ‘typical’ date (if you believe the movies) is an evening drink at a bar followed by dinner. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we’ve come up some interesting date ideas:
- Find an independent cinema with comfy sofas and table service
- Learn some new moves together at a salsa bar
- Cook up a storm and enjoy a cosy candlelit night at home
- Visit an art gallery, followed by coffee and cake
- Walk around a food festival and try some samples
- Enjoy a round of crazy golf or game of darts at one of the many activity bars, popping up around the country.
- Break out from urban dating, head for a walk in the countryside or at the seaside
Whatever you choose, make sure you both feel comfortable and relaxed – if you love a morning at the driving range or strolling around a stately home and gardens, share your passion. When you talk about a hobby you love, you’re sharing a part of yourself and demonstrating your self-esteem. When you feel good, the people around you are more likely to as well.
Be prepared, ask for advice
A little preparation can go a long way when you’re dating and asking for advice can help too.
Colleagues might recommend a show to see, or a trendy restaurant to visit. Book a table rather than chance it.
Friends could suggest a dish you’re great at making, like seafood linguine. Make sure you have the ingredients and that your date isn’t allergic to prawns.
Show that you’re interested
Words don’t come easily to everyone. For some, it can feel cliché or stilted to say, “I’m having a great evening with you,” or, “I enjoy your company.”
Giving your date your attention (put your phone away), listening actively, and asking them questions is a good way to show you’re having a good time.
Whether you vocalise it or not, your body will let them know if you’re keen. While you’re with your date, your bodies will be using pheromones to communicate with one another. When an emotional response is triggered or you’re attracted to someone, your body might know it before you do.
Communicate in (and out of) the bedroom
If at some point you and your date decide to get physical – whether it’s the first or thirty-first date – it’ll be exciting but possibly nerve-wracking.
There aren’t any rules about when you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ have sex, what you should or shouldn’t do in the bedroom. We’re not sexologists, but as clinicians, we can advise on what to do to prepare and relax.
It might not feel comfortable, but talking about sex, contraception and sexual health before getting physical can actually avoid awkward moments.
Get checked out – STIs are not just for university students. Anyone can catch one but most STIs can be tested for and treated quickly. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask a new partner if they’ve been checked recently, and reassuring for them to know you have too.
Take responsibility for safety and contraception – Should he? Should she? Should I? Yes, to all of the above. There’s no shame in buying and carrying condoms, requesting emergency contraception or getting an STI check if you need it.
Talk about what you enjoy – Speak up about what you don’t. You should never feel pressured or expect someone to do something. Enjoy exploring one another’s likes and dislikes – you might learn something new.
Online Doctor can help you take control of your sexual health. Whether you need the contraceptive pill, the morning after pill, a new pack of ED treatment. We can’t play cupid, but our clinics and treatments can support you in feeling prepared, responsible and confident in your health.
Don’t be afraid to commit
With all that choice out there on dating apps, people can find it hard to commit to one relationship, with the age-old ‘the grass is always greener’ haunting them. But if you have put effort into finding someone and getting to know them and it turns out that you like them, don’t be afraid to tell them and commit.
Commitment to one another can bring a couple much closer and generally couples that are not equally committed are likely to lower quality relationships, and more instances of conflict and aggression. It’s worth being honest and committing to someone you really like, but if you can’t commit it might just be a sign that person isn’t right for you.