5 Tips for Practicing Self-Care When You’re Dating

(that I wish someone had told me)

Photo credit: Katerina Holmes via Pexels

I know from personal experience that dating in the era of swiping, ghosting, and hook-up culture can be rough.

Having experienced my fair share of unsolicited ‘u up?’ texts, clingy guys, and, self-proclaimed commitment-phobes, I know first-hand the toll that dating can have on your self-esteem.

It can be both mentally and emotionally draining if you don’t recognize your own self-worth and advocate for yourself. For this reason, it’s important to develop a strong foundation of self-care practices to help you navigate the dating scene.

In this sense, self-care’ doesn’t mean buying a face mask or running a bubble bath. Here, the term literally means ‘to care for one’s self’; to protect your own mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Over the years, I’ve developed five dating principles that I live by. Following these rules has not only improved my whole dating experience, it’s also shown me what a truly healthy relationship looks like.

If you’re getting a little tired of the bullsh*t, here are five self-care practices that you need to adopt.

1. Don’t force yourself to go on dates that you aren’t genuinely excited for

With the popularity of dating apps, the potential to meet new people is practically endless. It also means that you get asked on a lot more dates. This can be a great thing, but it can also be stressful because it puts a lot of pressure on you to make time in your schedule to meet up with a bunch of virtual strangers.

Sometimes we are really excited to meet up with someone new, other times we’re just not feeling it for whatever reason. Yet even when our gut tells us that a date is going to be a waste of our time, we ignore it and go anyways.

We need to stop going on dates that don’t genuinely excite us!

It’s detrimental to our emotional well-being because it often creates a lot of anxiety and negative emotions beforehand and/or regret afterward because we know, deep down, that our time would have been better spent elsewhere.

The truth is that you don’t owe your time to anyone on a dating app. Just because you matched doesn’t mean you’re obligated to meet in person. If the spark isn’t there before the meet-up, it’s okay to say no.

Your time and energy are valuable, so save them for the ones that give you butterflies when their name pops up on your screen.

2. Don’t feel obligated to keep talking to someone you went on one date with if you’re not interested in them

Who else has felt a certain amount of guilt when they go on a date with someone who’s really sweet and expresses interest, but you just aren’t feeling it? It’s not that they aren’t a great person, you just aren’t interested in them like that.

I think we’ve all been guilty of keeping someone on the hook because we ‘felt bad because they were really nice,’ but it’s time to ditch that habit. Not only are you wasting their time, but you’re also negatively impacting your emotional well-being by forcing yourself to spend time with someone that, deep-down, you don’t really want to.

The honest truth is that it’s rare to find someone that you genuinely connect with. It can take a lot of time and a lot of patience before you meet someone that you ‘click’ with emotionally, intellectually, and physically. It’s not only completely normal to not be attracted to everyone you go on a date with, but it’s also totally fine to just admit that you don’t feel a spark and move on.

3. Recognize when someone adds value to your life — not just validation

This tip can be a bit of a tough pill to swallow. Many of the people you date don’t really add value to your life, but you keep them around because they validate you.

Having people in your life who only serve to validate you can be detrimental to your self-worth because you become reliant on other people for validation, rather than just knowing that you’re enough without needing someone to tell you.

It’s human nature to want a little validation from your partner, but they should also bring other things to the relationship like adventure, spontaneity, and passion. They should be supportive of your goals and excited about your dreams and aspirations. Ultimately, they should bring out the best in you, not just tell you that they find you attractive.

Take a good look at your current relationship and honestly ask yourself, in what ways do they add to my life? If your list is short, there’s plenty more fish out there.

“Self-love is the ability to feel beautiful without needing someone to tell you”

4. Be honest about how fast you’re comfortable moving & set boundaries

Nowadays, there’s a lot of pressure to move quickly in your sexual relationships. Speaking from personal experience, it’s easy to get caught up in it.

Part of you feels insecure, like if you don’t move at the same speed as your partner then they’ll find someone else who will. You feel like you need to be cool with having casual sex because everyone else is.

If you’re someone who is completely fine with just hooking up, all the power to you! This tip isn’t about demonizing promiscuity or casual sex. However, if you’re someone who needs to feel completely comfortable with someone before becoming sexually intimate, it’s important that you recognize and accept that.

Succumbing to the pressures of ‘hookup culture’ negatively impacts your emotional well-being because when you get intimate with someone before you’re truly ready, it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in the relationship.

Avoid this by being open with the guys you’re dating about the fact that you aren’t comfortable getting sexually intimate in the early stages. You can still show affections and build sexual tension, even if you want to hold off for a bit on sex.

Remember, the right person will respect your pace, and will probably find you even more attractive for setting clear boundaries that prioritize your well-being.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others” Brene Brown

5. Make them put in effort — don’t chase them around trying to convince them how great you are

Are you someone who has the tendency to go from zero to one hundred real quick when you meet someone you like?

This is a great way to turn someone off.

When you ‘chase’ other people like this, you’re sending a subconscious signal to them that your life is missing something, when in fact, you want to be sending the opposite signal.

Your life should be so full of your passions, hobbies, and interests that a person has to fight for a space in your life. You should only have time to entertain people who genuinely want to be there and who add value to your life.

I had a friend who used to clear her schedule the second she met a guy she liked thinking that it would make him want to spend all his time with her. The result was that she was the one always trying to pin down dates with guys who became increasingly less available.

The moral of the story is that you should never have to convince someone to be a part of your life. It’s emotionally draining, and frankly a waste of time. If someone wants to be in your life, they’ll show you, not only with their words, but also with their actions.

If someone is giving you clear signs that they don’t want to be in your life; they take days to respond to your texts, they never make plans, they don’t show any interest in your life — show them the same level of attention. Plain and simple.

In summary

Here is a recap of the five tips for practicing self-care when you’re dating that will help make it a fun experience, rather than an emotionally draining one.

  1. Don’t force yourself to go on dates that you aren’t genuinely excited for
  2. Don’t feel obligated to keep talking to someone that you went on one date with if you aren’t interested in them
  3. Recognize when someone adds value to your life versus just validation
  4. Be honest with yourself about how fast you’re comfortable moving and set boundaries
  5. Make people put in effort to be part of your life — don’t chase them around trying to convince them how great you are

The bottom line is that you should respect yourself enough to choose the thing that’s going to protect your mental and emotional well-being, even if it means letting go of a couple of relationships along the way.

This post was originally published here at

Foodie and freelancer with a passion for running in circles (400m circles, to be exact.)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store