There are no hard and fast rules for getting to know someone better, but there are some easy mistakes you can avoid to ensure you won’t send him off and running or give her the cold shoulder and lose your chances with someone great. According to data collected from Relationup, an app that provides live, anonymous relationship advice, 68% of their users seeking advice about new relationships want help managing the beginning phase of the relationship.
Here are five common mistakes people make in the dating process, why they don’t work, and some tips for how to overcome them.
Over- or under-texting.
If all you want to do is send texts to your crush all day long, let’s face it: you might be needy. You come alive with the intensity of a new relationship and may need a lot of reassurance, but over-texting isn’t going to help. Send too much too fast can easily overwhelm the receiver. Their desire to text may not match yours, which can lead you to overanalyze the situation and worry. However, if you tend to be guarded and don’t want to show your cards too quickly, step up and make sure that you reciprocate and initiate some texts as well. If you don’t respond or send a few flirts here and there, you may come across aloof and give the impression that you’re not as interested as you really are.
Rushing into things after a hook-up.
More and more, hook-ups are becoming a common way to meet someone. Sometimes, that one-night stand results in the couple never having contact again. However, some hook-ups mark the beginning of a budding relationship. Remember, physical intimacy doesn’t mean you are necessarily close and connected. Following a single fling, take time to get to know the other person and see what direction it takes, if any.
Replacing live conversations with texts.
Don’t fight or make apologies over texts. Texts are too ambiguous and misinterpretations can easily happen. Do the old-fashioned thing and pick up the phone (if you were texting, it’s already in your hand) and even leave a message if you have to. The tone of your voice helps set a context for what you are saying. Your humility, sincerity and willingness to work through a problem will come through when you talk to each other directly and repairing any damage made will be quick and painless.
You know the rest of the song. “But the fire is so delightful. And as long as you love me so, let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!”
Sure, cuddling by a warm fireplace sounds all comfy and cozy during the holidays, and during the cold winter months. But what about dating tips for once Christmas and New Year’s is over? What about when it’s January, February, or the dreaded month of March, when it feels like it’s been freezing cold and snowing for 15,000 years, and the romance of the fireplace has worn off but your love hasn’t. What then?
Here are some fun and unique dating tips to stay connected to your partner, on those days and weeks when you are stuck inside. This list of fun and sometimes sexy activities will be so fun, you might be begging for more snow in April!
It’s time to have a snowman contest:
Anyone can go outside and build a snowman. Why not make it extra fun and unique? Try making it a contest, with a theme.
You have an hour to build your own snowman, and the best looking one wins. Build them side by side, and when you are finished, take a picture to post on social media. Let your friends vote on the winner, and then make a private bet for what the loser has to do to make the winner happy. Later on. In bed.
To put a twist on this, part of your contest could be a themed snowmen, such as “celebrity snowmen,” or making a Snowman that looks like your partner. This could provide plenty of laughter and lots of amazing memories for years to come.
You can create intimacy through music:
This is something that my partner and I do quite often, and each time, it is surprisingly moving, as well as an intense way for us to connect.
We choose 3 songs each (you can choose one to start, if three is too many), and we bring them to the CD player and play them for the other person.
We find songs that remind us of each other, of our love, or of something we want to express to one another in that moment. We take turns playing them for each other, with a short explanation of why we chose that particular song.
Some of them are silly, funny, romantic, or sweet. Others might be very deep, with profound lyrics that have a lot of meaning to us.
Everytime we do this, I feel like it brings us closer, and it also helps us learn a bit more about each other, through music.
You can do this in your living room, bedroom, or even in your car, while taking breaks from kissing.
Try making a sexy new recipe together:
Any couple can cook together, but when it’s as cold as a freezer outside, and your hands feel like popsicles, it might be fun to find new ways to be together in the kitchen.
If one of you is a great cook and the other isn’t, perhaps a cooking class with a favorite dish is in order. You can cook it together and then have dinner together with some romantic ambiance.
If both of you can cook, but you’re sick of eating the same meals over and over again, this is the perfect opportunity to try something new and different.. Take to the internet, look up some unique and fun recipes, and pick something special to attempt cooking together.
If it’s a hit, you’ve got a new meal to add to your repertoire. If it’s terrible, you have another great new memory together, and another reason to laugh with one another.
Watch stand-up comedy clips and laugh all night together:
Laughter is one of the absolute best ways to connect with another human being, especially someone that you love. Genuine laughter often leads to feelings of intimacy, which leads to teasing and back and forth banter with delicious flirting madness.
When my partner and I are giggling together over something silly, it almost always turns into more hugging, more kissing, and more of everything else. Trust me on this.
Being mostly homebound for weeks at a time, due to freezing cold or icy weather, can lead to a lot of movie watching. This time, forget the movies. Put your TV on YouTube, or Netflix, and finding some short comedy specials, or clips of favorite or classic stand-up comedians.
You can take turns at the remote, introducing a new comedian to your partner, or re-sharing a classic Carol Burnett sketch that maybe they haven’t seen. Going to sleep at the end of the day, after having just laughed a good amount, is a pretty great feeling.
Try to brave the cold and take a ski lesson together:
Not everyone lives near a ski slope, but if you are reading this article, you probably live in an area that has cold weather or winters. Have you ever tried skiing? It’s one big opportunity for laughter.
Skiing is fun, but it’s not easy. Taking a first-time lesson together on the beginner bunny slope with an instructor teaching you how to stand up and then move, can be fun and silly time. You can reward yourself afterwards with some hot cocoa and brownies or cookies back at home.
Another option is to find a local skating rink or hockey game. Any kind of one-time class can be a fun adventure to do together, and another way to stay clear of doing “the same old things.”
If you can’t go outside, try something new in the bedroom:
What better time to spice up your love life, than when you are stuck inside together during cold winter months? Having a lot of intimate time is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it can become repetitive.
A cold winter’s day is a perfect time to sit down with your partner, and each of you can share a fantasy you might like to try. Or, if you are too shy to tell each other, write down ten fantasy scenarios, put them in a bowl and pick one out. You can write two or three that are “real” fantasies and and the others can be fakes.
You can take turns reading them out loud, and try guessing which ones are the actual fantasies your partner wrote down. The next step is making them happen!
This can be another super fun way to get close again, turn each other on, and to keep discovering new things to love about your partner.
It’s certainly cold out there, but, baby, we’ve got a lot that we can dodo!!!
Meeting someone special and going out to dinner for the first time can be exciting, but after a few evenings out, the same old date idea can get, well, a little monotonous.
Maybe dinner gets dull because you run out of things to talk about or you realize you’re not connecting… but I think a dinner date can get boring because sharing a meal isn’t always the best way to get to learn a person’s complexities, personality, and strengths. You won’t learn about his or her wacky sense of humor in a fancy restaurant and you’re probably not going to swap deepest darkest secrets in a crowded café.
In order to get into the real relationship stuff, to truly bond, sometimes you have to step away from your comfort zone (and I’m not just talking about ordering that strange oyster appetizer the waiter suggested).
Whether you’re just getting to know someone, or are looking to spice it up with your long term significant other, trying a new date could be just what you need to connect on a deeper level. Here are my seven favorite spring activities to help you break away from the safety of the dinner date and get closer to each other this season.
I would specify by saying that you should take your date “indoor” rock climbing, but, who knows? It is springtime, so if you two are outdoorsie (and I mean really outdoorsie), maybe climbing in nature will be just fine.
But, no matter where you choose to go, rock climbing is a great activity to help a new couple bond. The whole date is like one giant trust fall exercise, which will help you build confidence in each other (and hopefully build confidence in your relationship).
Usually, in climbing gyms, one person will climb while the other will belay the climber with an attached rope, making sure the climber gets back to the ground safely. It requires a lot of communication and trust, which is exactly what you need to build a stronger connection.
When I went rock climbing with my fiancé for the first time, I was nervous. I’m a little afraid of heights so the idea of going up a wall was terrifying. Being held up by only a belt and one single rope made me extra unsure.
Still, being forced to put my well-being in my date’s hands really helped us build trust early on. You might even say it made our bond “rock” solid.
2. Size your date up… by going shopping
Bringing your date shopping shows that you care about their opinion and respect their taste. Whether you’re shopping for a new spring wardrobe or browsing for a new couch, taking your date to the store can be a great way to get to know each others’ styles and get a hint into what your lives might look like if you took the relationship to the next level.
When I moved into a new apartment a few years back, I took my fiancé (then boyfriend) to Ikea to get some furniture. We had a great time looking around at all of the model rooms, choosing our favorite furniture pieces, and talking about our styles.
By the end of the day we were both happy with the furniture I’d purchased: I was glad to have had someone to bounce ideas off of and he felt honored that I had cared enough to take his opinion into consideration.
Of course, if you haven’t been going out long, you’ll want to start out small: let your date help you pick out an outfit or let him or her help you pick out the menu for that party you’re planning. The important thing is that you learn about your date’s style, and let them know that you care about their preferences.
3. Get on the relationship path… with a long hike
Hiking is a great way to get in shape, relieve stress, and get in touch with nature, but did you know it can also be a great way to strengthen your relationship?
Hitting the trail together this spring is the perfect way to get some one-on-one time in a romantic, flower-filled, spring setting, but it’s also a great opportunity for you and your date to learn to support each other. Even a short hike can be difficult and learning to encourage your partner, work together, and challenge each other can do wonders for a new relationship.
My fiancé and I have been going on hiking dates since we first met and we love trying new trails and seeing how far we can go on new paths. We’ll find nearby trails, plot out a path, then, over the next few weekends, build up our endurance and challenge ourselves to get farther every week.
Between the fresh air, teamwork, good conversation, and physical activity, hiking can really get your relationship headed in the right direction.
4. Prove that you’re not just playing around… by hosting a game night
As spring really gets going, and the days get longer, your friends might want to start planning more events and parties together. This is great because group activities can be a perfect place to bring a date to see how they interact with your friends, but it’s also an opportunity to learn more about his or her personality.
One great idea is to host a game night. If you happen to choose games where you work in teams, like Pictionary or Charades, you and your mate can have fun as you practice working together. If you decide on games where everyone plays as individuals, like Monopoly or Clue, this can be a great way to see how your date reacts to competition.
Game nights will give you a chance to learn more about your date, but it will also allow him or her get to know your better through your friends. Plus, you’re both sure to have a good time hanging out together. Looks like everyone’s a winner!
5. Improve your relationship… with an improv class
Being able to laugh with a partner, and learning to understand their humor, is incredibly important to any relationship. Take this idea to the next level by attending an improv class with your date.
You’ll let loose as you giggle your way through warm-up exercises like “what are you doing?” and “zip zap zop,” then you’ll have fun creating scenes with classmates. Improv class is a perfect activity because you can impress your date with your best jokes while you bond over trying something new.
When my fiancé and I first signed up to take an improv class together, I was afraid I would look silly. Of course, I looked very silly, but I found that acting goofy was half the fun. By the end of the class we were both creating scenes and making jokes just like the cast of “Whose Line is it Anyway.” Or, at least, pretty close.
6. Avoid relationship roadblocks… by taking a road trip
I’ve heard it said that you never really know someone until you travel with them… and I’m pretty sure that whoever said that was talking specifically about road trips.
Sitting in a car, staring at nothing but billboards for hours at a time, can drive a person stir-crazy, but a road trip can also be great fun, especially if it’s with the right person.
Once you and your mate have been going out for a little while (and gotten comfortable with each other enough to commit to a weekend together) consider taking a spring break road trip. Traveling with him or her will tell you a lot about their personality. Between the way they drive, the way to the way they deal with stress or boredom, to the activities they get most excited about, there are so many opportunities to learn something new about your partner, and so many opportunities to make memories together.
You’ll always remember that crazy themed diner with the Elvis impersonator and you’ll be able to laugh looking back at the time you almost ran out of gas. You’ll treasure the pictures you took in front of the world’s biggest yarn ball and think back fondly on the time you kissed by the grand canyon.
Road trips aren’t always perfect, but they’re a great way to see what it would be like having a future with your partner, learn a little bit more about them, and create memories.
7. Wash away any dating nerves… by creating a water park
Everyone has a child-like side, but sometimes it can be hard to see it right away. Take advantage of the warming weather by building a DIY waterpark, it’s the perfect way to encourage your date to get playful and silly with you.
What might seem, at first glance, like a simple grassy backyard, can turn into a mini waterpark designed for hours of fun. Set up is easy: turn on the sprinklers, fill a few water balloons, set up a kitty pool, and get in your swimsuit.
Spending an afternoon playing in the sprinklers will definitely bring out that playful side in both of you, plus, it can open you up to great conversations about childhood memories. After a water balloon fight, you can bask in the kitty pool as you talk about that summer at sleepaway camp or bond over stories about your crazy siblings.
When it comes to getting closer, these seven spring dates are just the beginning. The truth is that any activity can be a bonding activity, the key is to just be willing to try new things together. Step out of your comfort zone, share a secret, do something that seems different or even a little scary.
As soon as I saw the preview for She’s All That, I knew I had to see it. I identified with Rachael Leigh Cook’s nerdy Laney Boggs and the awesome ‘90s soundtrack (hello “Kiss Me”) had me sold.
I called my best friend at the time and we soon orchestrated a double date with two guys we were into. She had turned 14 in December and I was still 13 for another six months.
I remember being so nervous calling the boys to organize the outing and freaking out teenage girl style when they said yes. We were too anxious to order food but we did have slushies and in typical eighth grader fashion, we didn’t even hold hands. We laughed through the movie and I felt myself blushing when I’d accidentally brush my guy’s hand.
When the movie was over, I remember feeling such a relief that it was done. I was happy that my first date was over and I managed to make it a double date at that. It’s fun to think about the shared experience the four of us had that winter in 1999. Firsts are always hard, but when they turn out as fun as this date did, it made me excited for my romantic future.
I’m not sure if this has changed, but 15 years ago they required us to have a date. I didn’t know very many guys and all I wanted to do was go to prom with my friends. I love laughing at my picture of myself and the date I ended up going with—a friend of a friend I think. He wore a top hat and sported a cane and he was a good six inches shorter than me.
I barely hung out with him during the dance. Instead, I spent the night with my friends, dancing and having fun.
It was nice to know that I could have a good time without having a “date” per se.
Founder’s Day Ball, 2004 and a Late-Night Diner Dinner, 2007
When I started college, I met a great guy who was also from Pittsburgh. Being the naive 18-year-old that I was, I instantly felt a connection that I hoped would become romantic.
I remember calling my sisters the night before the boy and I decided to go to our college’s Founder’s Day Ball. They were giddy with excitement, wondering what the night would bring. Soon enough, I realized we were much, much better as friends and we never actually dated beyond taking each other to things like school dances.
In the meantime, I found a wonderful friend in the process who has shared so many amazing memories with me.
Three years later, I briefly (I’m talking a month and a half) actually dated another man I had become close to during my college years. I remember one night we went out to a late-night dinner at a local diner we loved. I was very forward and flirtatious and remember trying to play footsie under the table and saying things I couldn’t believe were coming out of my mouth.
It was nice to know I had the confidence to be so sure of myself when it comes to matters of the heart. Our dates were fun, innocent and spontaneous—a nighttime trip to Dairy Queen or our local movie theater. However, speaking of matters of the heart, when we broke up it was the first time I felt truly heartbroken. While dating the boy didn’t exactly have the outcome I expected, I ended up becoming great friends with him as well.
Just those few dates with those boys resulted in a friend group that rivaled the Three Musketeers, This is Us’ Big Three, basically any friendship group of three you can think of. Those two boys turned out to be two of my very best, dearest friends. It’s funny to think about the surprising ways life can take you and turn out to be way better than you ever thought.
The most romantic date ever, 2011
While the relationship didn’t turn out with any positives except a story in a local magazine, the one I had in 2011 brought me the most romantic date I’ve ever had. As a self-described hopeless romantic, I thought going to visit my boyfriend while he was away in Chicago was straight out of a movie.
The weekend I was there, he took me to the Navy Pier and as we rode to the top of the Ferris wheel where we shared a passionate kiss. I will always appreciate the date and refer to it as “that one time I felt like I was living in a romantic comedy.”
My first and only blind date, 2012
2012 was a tough year, as it was the year I got laid off due to budget cuts from the newspaper I was working at. While it was tough, it was also a great year because it was the year I met my current boyfriend.
The woman who worked at my apartment building’s front desk was friends with my boyfriend’s coworker, who happened to live in my building. They both agreed we would be good for each other and slipped a Starbucks gift card under my door.
My boyfriend and I met at the Starbucks at the end of my block and ended up chatting for hours. Six years later and we are still together and I’ve got a good feeling that that evening at Starbucks was my last first date.
Whether it’s getting over the fear of my first date, wishing I didn’t need a date at all, gaining confidence, appreciating romance or finding my forever date, I’ve learned so much with the men I’ve dated. As scary as it is to put yourself out there, it’s totally and completely worth it.
Interested in getting out of a not-so-great date? Check out this piece.
Being a self-professed traditionalist in dating may not be the correct way to describe myself after all.
All my life my family teased me about how much I valued tradition. Whether it was holidays or dating or following certain etiquette rules, I always placed a lot of value on certain customs. Little did I know, maybe I’m a little more modern than I think.
These days, most people date casually or just hook up and don’t worry about titles. Some don’t even bother with getting married. I always wished for the marriage and kids thing and when I was young, while watching sitcoms like Full House and later dramas like Dawson’s Creek, I always wanted a boyfriend.
Fast forward to years later. I didn’t date anyone in high school so college was my first experience learning what I wanted in a relationship. I ended up getting into a very brief relationship with one of my best friends. We are still close today which is really nice. What’s even nicer is the way he asked me to be his girlfriend. It was romantic, innocent and one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me.
It was our senior year of high school and I had just moved out of a hellish suite situation into a double room with a roommate who was never there. I was watching Mona Lisa Smile in my room just relaxing on a Saturday night. I suddenly looked down at my (dating myself here) Motorola RAZR and saw a text from a friend that my male friend was in her room, nervously eating chicken nuggets and sipping vodka. With a slight push and support from her, he was going to ask me to be his girlfriend.
Cue Laura Linney in Love, Actually (fast forward to about 2:07 in that clip to know what I mean) laying there in my uncomfortable dorm twin bed. My friend took so long to work up the guts to ask me to be his girlfriend that I got almost entirely through Mona Lisa Smile again.
He finally walked in and didn’t say a word, just putting in the Phantom of the Opera movie remake, fast forwarding to the “All I Ask of You” scene. After that, he put in my worn When Harry Met Sally DVD, fast forwarding to the last scene where Harry professes his love to Sally, saying things like “I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich.” I suppose he saw us as Harry and Sally at that point in our lives, and knowing it’s my favorite movie of all time, he ran with it.
After that, he asked me to be his girlfriend and we kissed for a long time, eventually falling asleep after talking all night. I woke up and was nearly late for church the next morning, but I couldn’t stop smiling.
Moving forward another few years, I met my current boyfriend. After having a first date at Starbucks and more wonderful dinner dates at our respective apartments, I was out covering a lunch for my former job working for a newspaper.
Things were quite typical of the lunches I covered and I was getting a little bored and restless. I felt my phone vibrate in my purse and reached down to check it. I saw a text from my boyfriend that read: “I had a great time last night.” I smiled and responded: “Me too.” He wrote back, “You know what I was just thinking?” I quickly typed back a question mark, careful not to be too conspicuous. He wrote back: “That I have the best girlfriend ever.” He included a smiley face at the end.
I don’t remember much else of that day, nor anything about that lunch, but I will always remember it was May 10, 2012 and once again, I couldn’t stop smiling.
Call me old-fashioned…
I’ve always thought how cool it would be to save myself until marriage. I am a huge sucker for those old Notebook-esque couples who have only one sexual partner—each other. To me at least, there’s just such a beauty and pure romance to it all. Not that I don’t mind if others have more than one partner, I am a strong component of the phrase “You do you.” I just know that for me, it’s always something I thought I want to do.
I still have managed to save myself for marriage. My boyfriend, who also grew up with similar values, has been fully and completely respectful of my decision and thinks it’s pretty cool if we make it. While we’re working on the next step of our relationship, I honestly am happy I didn’t give in and go for it with some guys—guys like this one who walked me back to my apartment after a date and suggested an after dinner drink.
I mixed us drinks and as we got about halfway through them, he went for it and tried to start going hot and heavy. I knew exactly where it was going and I quickly wriggled my way out from underneath him. I explained that I’d at least like to get to know him first before having sex, a standard I knew I had at least wanted to hold onto, no matter how much I fell for a guy.
Then there’s another guy I dated for about six months. He never wanted to meet my family and when I went to visit him in Chicago for a weekend, he didn’t want to be in any photos. It was like I went on a weekend trip with myself. The only evidence I have of him there is a faint reflection of him in my sunglasses as he snapped my photo on a boat.
These times were two instances I could honestly say that I am glad I call myself a traditionalist.
…Or Maybe Not
After mapping out how I wanted to write this essay, I realized that maybe I am not so traditional after all. For someone who places so much value on the steps from when you first meet someone to marriage, I moved in with my boyfriend after dating for just a year. After a lot (and I mean a lot) of decision-making, I had a good gut feeling about the move. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do, tradition or not.
Also, I realized how untraditional our actual relationship is. As much as I would like to get married someday, when people ask if I’m happy, I can honestly say I am. We’ve got a nice little family going on, with my boyfriend and our elderly English bulldog. That’s a lot more than most people have, which often reminds me just how much I get the warm and fuzzy feeling when the three of us are spending a cozy Saturday night together on the couch. It’s comfortable, it’s easy and it’s romantic in its own way. I realize now that happily ever after doesn’t necessarily mean engaged, married, babies—it could be a far less traditional decades-long relationship, dogs and a whole lot of Netflixing on the couch.
While thinking about this topic, I had the realization that what’s important is making sure you’re happy. Who cares what others think when it comes to your relationship, whether you’re traditional or completely out there (a Charlotte or Samantha, if you may). Most of us are in that nice in-between sweet spot anyway.