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How to manage your dating expectations

Gillian Rowe / 14 June 2018

Don’t get disheartened when starting to date by managing your expectations.

An older couple go for a date in the park

The decision has been made, you’ve taken the plunge and have signed up to start dating again.  This is a thrilling time as you start to anticipate who you might meet, what they might look like and where it might lead.

Now, perhaps, is a good time to halt, take a deep breath and think carefully about your expectations of what’s going to happen now you’re in the dating game and check out the reality of some of those expectations.

Whatever your age, it’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all and to start imagining outcomes before you’ve even met anyone. Managing your expectations can help you make good, healthy connections that may lead to something more or not, but will definitely keep you feeling good about yourself.

Ticking every box

Yes, it would be lovely to meet a George Clooney look alike, who made you laugh, had a healthy bank balance and was a great raconteur at social occasions, but we all know that we can’t be all things to all people. Rather than nit-pick as soon as you meet someone, looking out for faults and differences, think about what your overall feelings are for your date.

If you are generally interested, feel comfortable in their company and you have a few shared interests, consider this a good basis to work from.

If you are looking for someone to tick every box, and are not willing to compromise, you may have to wait a long time and perhaps need to ask yourself whether you’re doing this as an avoidance tactic, taking the first steps of signing up to a site, but not actually ready or willing to meet anyone just yet.

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Equally, if part of this nit picking involves comparing your date with a past love, you may be sorely disappointed. How you were with your past partner or spouse was unique to that relationship.

Looking for love at the right time, when you have moved on from your past relationship, will help you avoid making comparisons and be more open to someone special in their own unique way.

Wait until you meet

How we communicate online or by text can be quite different to meeting someone face-to-face, so try and avoid getting too invested with a prospective date and arrange to meet up as soon as possible.

Chatting online can build up expectations, you might set yourself for a fall when your date doesn’t have the voice you imagined when you read all those texts and messages.

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Don’t expect constant communication

When you have had your first date, don’t feel flat if you don’t hear back immediately. In these first early stages in a relationship, it’s easy to read everything into anything.

In the first few weeks of dating, try not to expect constant communication, especially while you are working out how to interact with one another. It may be that they are simply too busy, and don’t know that you are waiting at the end of your phone for some sign that they are keen on you.

However, keep your radar poised to detect the difference between someone who is simply taking things slowly and someone who is into playing games.

Common dating mistakes to avoid

See a number of people

It may well be that when you see someone for the first time they will have arranged to see a number of people, which is perfectly acceptable at this early stage in dating.

Do the same yourself and arrange to see a number of people over the course of the first few months; by seeing a number of dates, it will open up your mind to the fact that there are plenty of fish in the sea. If you set your heart on the first person you make contact with online, and it doesn’t work out, it may put you off having another go.

So feel free to see lots of people until you have clicked with someone and both agreed that you’ll now put seeing anyone else on hold.

All in good time

Avoid thinking that you have to make up your mind as soon as you meet someone. Take things slowly and don’t expect an immediate rapport.

Remember they’ll be nervous too, so take that that into account when you first meet – and on the second date too. Sometimes the best relationships start with a slow boil!

How to handle yourself on the first date

Don’t force the situation

Equally, if you are keen, don’t try and force the situation. Suggestions of going away on a mini-break or holiday might sound really exciting to you but may put someone off who is new to the dating game.

Wait to meet family and friends

Make sure you feel comfortable with each other before introducing friends and family. While you may not be comparing your new love to someone from the past, other people may be less sensitive.

Feeling rooted in a relationship and sure of what you mean to each other will help when friends chip in comments about when they used to go on holiday with your date and their partner, or one of their children starts talking about their mum or dad.

And having expectations is OK!

There’s no reason to sell yourself short. Knowing yourself and what you want in life is very different to dismissing someone because they don’t have great dress sense.

Having expectations about how you want to be treated and respected is perfectly fine and healthy when you are start dating again. If you find someone who can do that, then the fact that they like the Beatles rather than the Rolling Stones is something that you can learn to live with!

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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