The silhouette of a new couple kissing in a field

An Update on my Personal Dating Life

A big recent update in my life is that I’m dating someone. Not my usual super noncommittal kind of dating, but seriously dating. 

I was a believer in casual dating and having unconventional relationships for many years, and it’s been fun and I have some crazy stories to show for it. My unconventional relationships started when I was 18, freshly broken up with by my highschool sweetheart, and I started dating someone in an open relationship. Since then it’s been lots of dating multiple people at the same time, dating couples, dating people in open relationships, but I never really felt like I was someone’s ‘first choice’.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a thing with dating multiple people. I do believe polyamory exists and you can have multiple ‘first choices’, but I just never felt like I was a first choice in my personal experiences. 

After all these years, I now actually feel like I’m someone’s first choice, and they’re also mine., And I’m not really completely sure what to do. I feel like I need to write a 101 on how to date someone seriously because I’m not sure what I’m doing. So far, it’s been a case of doing what feels natural, and that’s been working out. But I felt it might be a good idea to read up on how to keep those new relationship butterflies around.

So, if you’re entering a new relationship, this one’s for you. If you were hoping for some piping hot tea (gay term for gossip) on what is usually my chaotic dating life, I’m sorry, but not this week. 

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10 Tips on Navigating a New Relationship

1. Maintain Independence

This sounds really ironic, because when you’re in a new relationship, it seems natural to do everything with that someone, to have them around all the time. But it’s a smart idea to keep some time for yourself. Maintain your hobbies and do the things you like to do. It’s healthy to keep some independence and be able to do things by yourself. The idea of your partner being your ‘other half’ is false: you’re not a half of a person, you’re a whole person. You can coexist in a balanced way. 

2. Keep Making Time for Friends and Family

This point is linked to the last one, because as you are still your own independent person, you should maintain the same relationships you had before you met your new partner. It’s important to keep a balance of important people to you and not to cut yourself off from everyone who loves you. 

3. Keep an Eye Out for Red Flags

Red flags are not to be taken lightly. Toxic behaviour at the beginning of a relationship is likely to keep getting worse. At the beginning of a relationship you have to show your good side, but over time toxic people become more and more toxic. Often as you’ve built up a relationship, it gets harder and harder to leave. It’s a good idea to address any issues you see early on in relationships. Tell your friends, tell your family, discuss them with your partner, and keep yourself safe. 

4. Respect Yourself

Essentially this is all three last points kind of tied together. You may be in a new relationship but you can still put yourself first. I know the first four pieces of advice I have given are all about maintaining independence and having self respect, but they are so incredibly important when starting a new relationship. A lot of people will enter toxic relationships and cut themselves off completely from friends and family, and then when it ends or they need help it’s hard to ask the people they have cut off.

5. Add Variety to Your Dates

Onto the fun stuff now. Dates are something that get less when dating long-term or entering a relationship. Of course most people when they first meet go on dates and try to impress the other with fun dates. It’s important to keep that up to a certain extent. Keep having new experiences together and it’ll keep the relationship exciting. It’s easy to get into the rut of simply going to work and coming home and watching TV together and potentially getting bored. Keep fun dates and keep a bit of the excitement around. 

6. Quality Time Spent Face to Face

These dates are also a great way to be together without being focussed on something else like watching TV or being on your phone. It’s good to keep chatting together and doing things together without distractions. Again, you might end up in a rut of not spending any quality time together whilst just spending time together. Which also sounds ironic, I know, but it really is important, not just for new relationships but all relationships. 

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7. Communication Communication Communication

Misunderstandings are a part of life, but they are avoidable (and/or work-through-able), just keep your channels of communication open. If you experience something bad in the relationship, remember to tell your partner and they’ll know to avoid certain situations or saying certain things. Of course, this also counts for good things too. We’d hope your new partner wants to keep you happy, and if you let them know what makes you happy, hopefully they’ll take note. 

8. Don’t Make Comparisons

I was recently talking to a guy who said he really likes muscular girls, but wasn’t sure if he could get into a relationship with a muscly lady because he’d feel inferior for not being as toned as her. And of course, we do naturally compare ourselves to people and sometimes we do feel insecure, it happens. But it’s important to remember that the good qualities in your partner or the qualities you enjoy (doesn’t just have to be physicalities) are something that make you like your partner. Don’t let envy ruin your new relationship. 

9. Listen and Stay Curious

People don’t always stay the same, we change over time, and it’s important to keep up with any of your partner’s changes. Keep an interest in what they’re doing and what they’re interested in. Listening to your partner is an underrated thing in all relationships. Also, this lets your partner know they’re being heard and appreciated. Feeling valued is so important in a new relationship. 

10. Honestly, Just Enjoy Each Other

When I was telling Isabella, our lovely editor, about my ideas for my next column, she said that what’s most important is to just live the relationship, to enjoy it and to go with the flow. You learn by doing. The relationship isn’t going to be without faults, but they’re something you deal with when they happen. 

Not all relationships look the same, and that’s okay

No one can really tell you how to have the perfect relationship, because relationships vary depending on who is in them. You can have multiple relationships throughout your life and they’re not necessarily all going to look the same. Different people have different values and expectancies in a relationship. You’ll just have to figure out what your relationship is like along the way. You can only research how to be in a relationship so much, most of it you’ll just have to experience and figure out along the way. 

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