There’s no magic formula or crazy trick to finding a relationship. It’s a numbers and logic game.
But there are some things you can do to improve your odds of playing for keeps:
1. Be awesome and emotionally ready.
Do you have interests (beyond drinking and “The Bachelor”)? Do you sit in a cubicle all day complaining about your life, or do you actually do things to better yourself?
It doesn’t matter what your interests are, but you should have something you care about that enriches your life. Be the best version of who you are, and be proud of that.
If you are down on yourself due to stress, a recent event or general anxiety, you might be too vulnerable to be in a relationship.
It’s easy to accept shoddy treatment, or let someone take advantage of you if you don’t think much of yourself.
As much as you want someone to hold you at night and tell you it will all be okay, that job should be left to trusted help (friends, family, therapists) until you’re in a good place again.
2. Weed out people who aren’t right for you.
Douchebags are not viable candidates.
A lot of times, douchebags are looking strictly for quantity, and if you want a relationship, this is not something you want to be a part of.
Signs of a douchebag include bragging about lying or cheating, unironically reading “Total Frat Move,” laughing at others’ misfortunes, not listening or looking at you when you talk and being racist.
If someone exhibits these signs, don’t make excuses for them.
Just get out of there.
Why would you date someone who obviously won’t respect you?
3. Set standards.
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Expect a decent first date. I do not necessarily mean an extravagant restaurant here (especially if you are in your early 20s and probably broke).
But expect something nicer than meeting up at a shots bar or “Netflix and chill.” Ideally, meet some place you can actually talk to each other.
Speaking of standards, don’t respond to behavior you don’t want repeated (partner training is a real thing).
If you hate that someone only texts you after 11 pm, don’t answer. If he seems like he’s always hitting on other girls, talk to him about it or drop him.
Don’t agree to a hookup if you know you’ll get hurt.
Know what matters to you, and don’t accept anything less than what you want. It really is that easy.
4. Say, “I’m looking for a relationship.”
This is the most important, but also the most feared step. If you want a relationship, you have to f*cking say so.
You don’t get what you want by waiting around and hoping it will happen. Saying things out loud is good practice for actually being in a relationship, where you have to talk to each other about what to have for dinner, problems, the future etc.
Now, should you expect a boyfriend after a first date? No.
But be clear it’s where you’d like to end up. If this sends someone packing, let him go. You don’t want the same things, and that’s fine.
Keep in mind you won’t have a relationship with everyone you like. (Unfortunately, life just doesn’t work like that.)
Relationships are a two way street, and it has to work out for both parties. But why waste time trying to force it with someone who isn’t right for you?
There are plenty of other fish in the sea, and Tinder means you can browse through many of them without even putting pants on.
If you want a relationship, make it clear and go for it.