Everybody is different when it comes to romance, sex and falling in love. However you identify in terms of gender or sexual attraction, and whatever age you are, different personalities are suited to different dating styles.
These days, the term ‘dating’ covers a range of encounters; from a one-off quick coffee or a few romantic dinners with someone through to a steamy one-night stand and polyamorous or even monogamous relationships. Simply? Let’s say a ‘date’ is a period of time spent with another person at a pre-arranged time or place.
Dating isn’t about conforming to heteronormative stereotypes from magazines or movies – thank goodness for that.
But with the ‘rules’ around who asks who, where you go, how it ends, what happens next out of the window, where do you start? These suggestions might help you allay some anxiety and focus on enjoying the moment.
Explore online dating
Approaching someone in a bar or café is daunting. But, if you’ve never done it before, the idea of online dating might be too.
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.
Online dating can be particularly useful if you’re shy around new people. Match with someone on an app and you can get exchange messages and get to know them a little before you meet in real life.
Be creative with dates
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 it’s not for everyone. Why not:
- Find an independent cinema with comfy sofas and table service
- Learn some new moves together at a salsa bar
- Enjoy a cosy candlelit night at home with a home-cooked meal
- Visit an art gallery, followed by coffee and cake
- Walk around a food festival and try some samples
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.
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 and 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.
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.
Whether you need the contraceptive pill, a new pack of ED treatment or an up-to-date STI check, we can help. We can’t play cupid, but our clinics and treatments can support you in feeling prepared, responsible and confident in your health.