Dating can be scary. When you have been burned before, the fear of getting hurt again can sometimes prove overwhelming. Still, most people don’t want to be alone, which makes dating the only alternative. When you do decide to re-enter the dating field, sometimes taking things slow can be the best way to protect your heart.
Recognize the butterflies for what they are. It is great to feel that wave of excitement when you meet someone new, but don’t mistake that initial interest for love at first sight. Temper your feelings for a bit, enjoying the butterflies but not reading too much into them.
Keep sex off the table for a while. Being sexually intimate early in a relationship can backfire, according to world-renowned relationship expert Kate M. Wachs, author of “Relationships for Dummies. To avoid jumping into bed too soon, make a decision up front to take sex out of equation and then stand by that choice.
Pursue other passions. Don’t allow this new relationship to become your only source of excitement and fun. Keep yourself busy with other hobbies and interests. Make it a point to spend time with friends and to enjoy the time you have by yourself. Be too busy to spend every night together. Having an active life will provide plenty of conversation material when you do have your dates.
Pay attention to basic values. Taking the time to determine if the two of you have similar goals for the future can go a long way toward helping you decide if you will be a good match in the long term, according to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Ask questions about kids, lifestyle and even money management habits.
Don’t rush into meeting friends and family. Bringing other people into this relationship can create additional pressure for it to work. At least in the beginning stages, enjoy getting to know each other before making those all-important introductions.
Stop yourself from making contact every time the desire strikes. Rather than connecting multiple times a day, ignore some of those impulses and instead just enjoy having a crush, suggests Lynn Harris, relationship expert and author of “He Loved Me, He Loves Me Not." If you feel the desire to call but have already spoken that day, call a friend instead until the desire passes.
Put the brakes on moving in. When you are caught up in a whirlwind romance, the idea of cohabitation can just seem natural. Maintaining your own space, however, can help you to continue leading your separate lives while you determine what you each want from the future. Don’t make the decision to move in together until you are both prepared to make a much more long-term commitment.
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Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.
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