No matter how many relationships you’ve been in or first dates you’ve been on, we can all feel like we need dating advice from time to time. Whether you’re single and looking for dating profile tips to make yours stand out, or are in a new relationship, enter stage right: our expert-led guide to dating advice for women.
A preface: your dating style and what you value in a partner will be different than, say, your best friend. Your love language will likely be different and what works for them, might not do it for you. That said, there are some universal dating tips that experts reckon will be useful for everyone, gathered from years of professional experience and their own lived experience.
We asked clinical psychosexual and relationship psychotherapist Jordan Dixon and dating coach Hayley Quinn for their ultimate dating advice for women. For their eleven top tips – keep scrolling. First date tips and advice on what to talk about on a first date, included..
Dating advice for women: your ultimate guide
If you’ve landed on this article, chances are you’re either actively dating, considering going on a date, or in a new relationship.
Whatever your situation, our two pros reckon the following tips are universally helpful for anyone and everyone. Without further ado..
1. UNDERSTAND YOUR DIFFERENCES
You’ve all heard the saying opposites attract – even if you’re dating someone who also loves vegan pizza, Miraval and trips to Marseille just as much as you do, it’s pretty likely that at some point, there will be something you disagree on.
Both experts share that understanding your differences early on in dating and throughout your time together is key to maintaining a healthy relationship and mutual respect for one another.
Try this: First decide and then communicate precisely what you are looking for while dating and what you want in a relationship. Continue to do this throughout your time together – whether that’s a bigger discussion, like whether you want kids or how you see your life going, or a more trivial matter, like what you’d like for lunch, healthy and regular communication is key.
Struggle to know what you want or what’s important to you? Writing things down can help – wellness planners at the ready for jotting down your innermost thoughts. Our guide to journaling for anxiety might help, too.
2. DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT
As above – actually knowing what you want is crucial to a happy dating life. Are you dating to find a partner to marry, dating for fun, or keen on a cheeky friends-with-benefits situation?
Defining what you are looking for is not only helpful when it comes to perfecting your dating profile, but can make dating a whole lot easier when you are able to tell the other exactly what you are looking for.
If having children is on the agenda then Dixon suggests you make this clear sooner rather than later. “Sometimes we may be at the stage in life where children are our priority so being vocal about that is important and also finding out our dates intentions for children is helpful,” she explains.
Wondering how to broach the topic? Dixon suggests trying this: “I’m looking to have children in the next couple of years, what are your views?”
3. CLEARLY COMMUNICATE AND SHARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
You’ve got what you want from your relationship clear. Next step: working out how to appropriately share said dreams and expectations with your partner.
“Making sure you’re open to both learn and ask about your partner’s hopes, dreams and desires as you convey your own is always a good place to start,” Dixon explains.
We all have different expectations when it comes to dating, but by bringing your expectations into awareness and talking about them, you’ll likely identify any key areas of difference.
“If we have subconscious set rules or don’t let ourselves know what we’re thinking, feeling or wanting, much less let others know, then it’s almost impossible to work out a comfortable, close relationship,” she continues. “Your hopes and dreams are integral, vital parts of who and what we are, and if we don’t share them with our dates (as information, not demands or complaints), we are depriving them of an important part of ourselves.”
She also stresses that it’s important to detail how you would like to be communicated with – by text, DM, voice notes or in person – and further, how often. Why? Because sharing this information can help our date clearly understand our needs.
Think about what works for you and what makes you feel comfortable. Dixon recommends asking and checking in with your partner “so you can both understand another and meet each other.”
Hand in hand with knowing what you want is taking time for self reflection about both yourself and your current dating situation – after all, in the words of the iconic Ru Paul, if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?
Check in with yourself regularly, reflecting on how you’re feeling and how your date makes you feel. Do they match the qualities you’re looking for in a partner? Do you feel good when they’re around? And do you feel that the relationship is going in the right direction?
Case in point – one Zen broadband survey found that being honest, transparent, and committed were rated the top valued attributes in a romantic relationship.
Creating time for self reflection is important, she says, because it enables you to “focus your intention”. “I would always recommend this while dating, as it can gift us with valuable insight into our intentions,” she explains. “If you’re clear on your intentions, then you can be clear with what you want, what’s working, and what’s not. This may change in the course of your relationship and so it’s key to listen to ourselves, be honest, and communicate.”
5. DON’T STICK TO A “TYPE”
This one’s important. Reality TV show Love Island has made “what’s your type on paper?” a common first date question, but Quinn suggests exploring options outside of your usual “type”.
“As we build experience in our dating life, it’s natural to refine who we’re looking for. However, take this refinement process too far and you can end up bypassing people who could be a great match for you,” Quinn explains.
She encourages taking note of the lessons you’ve learned about what kind of person you want to be with, but trying not to be too hasty in judging someone. Her advice? “Give any “maybes” a few dates to feel out the situation.”
6. BE HONEST
Sure, often easier said than done, but both experts stress that being clear, transparent and respectful can pay dividends in the long run and save you both time and energy.
Do note, though – “this is not to be taken as being brutally honest, which can be sometimes a vehicle for plain nastiness,” Dixon stresses. “Always be respectful, but work to your own truth, too. If something feels off for you, feed it back.”
In the beginning stages of dating and throughout any relationship, Dixon shares it’s important not to let guilt control you. Say you’ve been on a great first date where they’ve made a huge effort, but you know in your heart you’re better suited as friends. It’s important not to feel guilty about being honest and communicating, respectfully and politely, that you see it as just that – a friendship.
“Many people can get caught up in guilt and don’t know how to say what they need to in fear of upsetting people,” says Dixon. “Try to see it as a gift of kindness to be truthful, even if they may not want to hear it in the moment.”
7. BE CURIOUS
This one’s a good one. Using dating as a way to be more curious about who you are and what you value is a great way of finding out more about what you enjoy doing, who you like spending time with and what values and morals are important to you.
Similarly, it’s a great opportunity to be curious about other people, their lives and their lived experiences, all of which will benefit you whether you go the long run or not.
Try this: Dixon advises trying to learn about your date as they talk to you, rather than having a list of pre-conceived assumptions.
“Sometimes you can be quick to analyse texts or what they say from your own experience, rather than see what is actually in front of you,” she explains. “It’s common to use our catalogue of past experiences and can project our old experiences onto a new partner – but before you rush in and jump to conclusions, know that things can be different.”
Bottom line: be curious and open to new possibilities. You could meet the love of your life, make a lifelong friend, or enrich your life with new perspectives. Being open-minded is key.
8. GIVE THINGS TIME
Be honest: is dating or finding a partner a top priority for you? Then it’s important to give dating and relationships the time and consistent effort they need to thrive,” explains Quinn. “If you feel trapped in a cycle of not-so-great dating experiences, then subsequently sideline dating for long periods of time, it might be time to think about how you can stay more consistently engaged with dating,” she continues.
9. STAY POSITIVE
Sure, easier said than done – we’ve likely all found ourselves thinking that all the good ones are taken, with the same Zen research above showing that 22% of people believe there’s a lack of people nearby to date.
That said, maintaining a positive mindset and keeping an open mind is key. You know what they say, after all – you find love when you least expect it.
“Keep an open mind as to where you might meet someone and avoid falling into a scarcity mindset around dating,” recommends Quinn. “If your recent dates have been a bust, it’s easy to conclude that you’ve simply missed the boat on dating. Instead, remind yourself that people of every age start happy, fulfilling relationships every day – there’s no reason why this can’t be you.”
10. ENJOY YOURSELF
Last but by no means least – it’s really key, when dating, to remember to enjoy yourself. Sure, if you’ve been on one too many bad first dates, dating may not feel fun anymore – but it’s supposed to be.
Quinn suggests finding ways to make it more enjoyable. Try this: Instead of seeing it as a chore, why not make your first dates something you enjoy doing?
Ideas can include:
- Making a fun new recipe
- Trying a cocktail making masterclass
- Going to a pottery lesson
- Attending a concert or play
- Going on a hike
In doing so, the expert explains that dates can then feel rewarding, even if there’s no connection with the person. “Don’t let dating turn into a job interview or get bogged down by mindless swiping. Remember, you’re allowed to enjoy yourself on dates – regardless of whether you click romantically.” Hear, hear.