Dating Tips I Wish I’d Known in My 20s

Women's Dating

Dating Tips I Wish I’d Known in My 20s

Tara Ellison Tara Ellison • 9/25/14

There’s nothing like a broken marriage to show you that you could stand to learn a few things about relationships and how they work.

After getting divorced and learning some lessons in the dating trenches, I now have a successful and happy second marriage. But if I could go back in time, there are a few things I wish I’d learned earlier rather than later.

When it comes to dating, trusting yourself and listening to your inner wisdom often only comes with age, but there are ways to help the process along.

Sometimes being your own advocate isn’t as fun as it sounds. You might prefer not to know the answers to certain questions. You’ve just met someone and he seems great. Who wants to squash that early romantic buzz?

But if you keep a clear head and keep your eyes open, you can avoid potential heartbreak.

1. When someone shows you who he is, believe him.

I made all kinds of excuses for why a certain somebody wasn’t calling me or why his behavior was erratic. Consistency is a very attractive trait I learned to value in a man.

Does he cancel dates with a lame excuse? Everybody has challenges to deal with in life (such as pressing work deadlines or family issues that can derail even the best intentions), but I wish someone had told me if they start out like that in the beginning, it only goes downhill from there.

Character is everything. When people break commitments to you, they are telling you in subtle – or not so subtle ways – not to depend on them. Proceed with caution!

2. Little red flags don’t disappear on their own.

When you hear that nagging inner voice that says something’s up, quite often it’s right. When something doesn’t add up, pay attention.

Is it weird that you’ve been dating for three months and don’t know where he lives? Have you met any of his friends? Why is he always texting in the bathroom? Does he go off the radar for unexplained absences? These are important clues to how he conducts his life.

What do your friends think of him? If your friends don’t like him, they may be picking up on something you haven’t noticed or may have chosen to overlook.

3. Don’t pretend you’re OK if you’re really not.

If I wanted to look like I was a cool chick, I wouldn’t make a fuss about things that bothered me. What I was really doing was buttoning down my feelings, only to have them demand to be dealt with later.

If a guy you’re seeing doesn’t call you when he says he will or doesn’t value your feelings, you’re selling yourself out if you don’t address it. Communication is key in a relationship and you have to come from a place of looking out for your best interests when evaluating his behavior.

You won’t be able to change him but you can let him know you won’t be in a relationship where you’re being disrespected. If you sell yourself out, you’ve already doomed the relationship. Men respect what they have to work for.

“You might have to accept that there

may not be only one person for you.”

4. Be yourself.

I know we’ve all heard this one before, but when you’re young and still discovering who you are, it can be trickier than it sounds. You don’t have to love sushi or basketball just because he does.

There is no benefit to twisting yourself into a pretzel to become what you think a perfect girlfriend or potential wife is.

Besides, perfect doesn’t really exist. If it did, it would be boring!

5. Don’t be in a rush to become intimate.

Let him discover you slowly. I recently saw the movie “Don Jon” and was saddened to see women portrayed as bouncing in and out of bed for one-nighters with the lead character.

Ladies, hooking up may be easier than ever, but sharing your body is a big deal. It sounds old fashioned but men value what they have to work for. Respect yourself and your body and he will, too.

My husband (in his infinite wisdom) tells me men have two categories they put women in: long-term potential or short-term recreation. And it’s very rare to switch categories.

A lot depends on where his head is at and you would do well to figure this out before you get in too deep. You need to know how men see the big picture and your place in it.

No amount of great sex or good cooking is going to change that equation if he doesn’t want a real relationship, so stop auditioning for the part.

6. There’s no need to be in a hurry.

Just because society says you should be getting married and procreating doesn’t mean you have to adhere to anyone else’s schedule.

My husband and I were engaged for more than five years before tying the knot (it was the second marriage for both of us and admittedly much more complicated).

That said, however, don’t spend years with a guy who claims to never want to get married if those goals are important to you. If a man genuinely wants a committed relationship, he won’t be scared off when the word marriage comes up.

7. Sometimes things don’t work out the way you hoped.

You might have to accept the idea that there may not be only one person for you. If you thought he was “The One” and it turns out he wasn’t, there will be someone else.

People come into our lives at different times for lots of different reasons, and that next someone might be better suited to you in the long run.

And lastly, there is nothing more attractive than a woman who is actively pursuing her passions and enjoying her own life. If you’re living your best life, that energy becomes magnetic. Before you know it, you’ll have plenty of dates to choose from.

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