Even if you have really, truly, deeply loved campus hookup culture, that probably (hopefully) won’t last forever. In all likelihood, you’re moving toward a long-term intimate partnership in your future. In fact, you’ll probably get married. But there are a few dating hurdles you’ll have to cross before you get there. First, you will need to say “goodbye hookups, hello first dates!” And I think this is a good thing.
Here’s the thing about going on a first date. No matter how you meet (through a friend or through a swipe), sitting across the table getting to know someone who you find attractive and who finds you attractive is going to teach you a lot about yourself. It will help you understand what is important to you, and it will teach you what you want from an intimate relationship. Plus, going on first dates will grow your social skills and reduce your anxiety.
For those who choose to attack the dating world by taking advantage of one of the gazillion online dating apps available, I’ve come up with a few rules to help you navigate this new terrain:
- Be safe. Before meeting a stranger in person, tell a family member or close friend where you will be and who you’re meeting, and schedule a check in time with that person. Pick a location that’s public and in a location you’re familiar with. Limit yourself to two drinks during a first meeting. Trust me, if you like this person, leaving after a second drink will keep them wanting more—plus you’ll be sober enough to make smart decisions about getting home.
- Be honest. That means being honest with yourself and with the other person. If you want to be in a relationship, don’t say you’re OK with being friends with benefits. If you’re only looking for casual sex, don’t say you’re OK with long-term commitment. And, if these feelings change after you get to know someone, be honest about that, too.
- Intimacy is not a game. So don’t treat it that way. Use technology as a vehicle to get you from where you are to where you want to be. And that means going from URL (online) to IRL (in real life) ASAP. Remember that there’s a real live 3D person on the other side of that swipe.
- Pace yourself. If you’re going on 4 first dates in a week, you’ll burn out quickly. How about no more than one first date a week? Also, follow that storyline through to the end.