Whether you’ve recently emerged from a long-term relationship or you’ve been at it for a while, dating doesn’t come without its challenges. Overthinking, assuming, and getting rapidly overwhelmed hurt any potential connections you make—but it can be hard not to get in the headspace that might result in some less-than-logical lines of thought.
Because ultimately, a rational headspace is a necessity for any new (or old) relationship to flourish—and for your intimacy to grow. Here, mental health counselor and psychotherapist Gisele Liakos shares her advice for navigating the dating pool while keeping your head clear and your emotions in check.
How to know if you’re being love bombed
Love bombing may be a newer dating term, but it addresses an age-old dating tactic. You meet someone new, they overload you with extreme compliments (“You’re so much different from anyone else I’ve ever met;” “I can imagine a future with you”) far too early in the relationship, and ultimately, their affection drops off without warning and you’re left wondering what happened. It’s a manipulation tactic that can be hard to distinguish from genuine excitement.
When you think you’re being love bombed, “Check in with yourself and your comfort level and assert your boundaries,” Liakos says. “If you feel like someone is coming on too strong you can kindly express that and still want to date them.” It might also be helpful to ask yourself a few questions—“How well do they know me?” and “Do they have other things going on in their life besides me?”—to determine if love bombing is really what’s happening.
“Feeling excited about someone is not the same as falling in love, or deciding to make a life-long commitment,” Liakos says. “If someone is calling you their soulmate after just meeting them, take stock of the situation, including (and especially) your own feelings!”
How to check in with yourself when dating
That said, it’s important to regularly think about your own emotions when dating someone new; it can be easy to fall into the trap of hoping that the other person likes you without really considering whether you even like them. “Practice mindfulness with yourself,” Liakos says. That means thinking about your emotions, goals, and whether you’ve communicated your feelings and boundaries with the other person.
It’s also important to note if you might be feeling pressured, stressed, or burnt out—which can be an indicator you might need to take a break from dating. “Keep an open mind and an open dialogue, and try to be honest with yourself. It’s important to remember to date within your limits,” Liakos says.
“How are you feeling?” “What are your goals?” “Have you communicated your feelings and boundaries yet?” “Are you feeling burnt out, pressured, or stressed?” These are important feelings to reflect on.
How to not rush things when dating
When you hit it off with someone, the adrenaline that comes with those feelings is addictive—and you might find yourself getting carried away. As a general practice, Liakos recommends clients slow down. “Consider pausing before acting or reacting and check in with yourself. How do you feel? How do you want to express yourself? What do you want the person you’re dating to know about how you feel?” she says. “Honesty and mindfulness will be your greatest ally when navigating dating.”
Communication is also key—it takes practice learning how to express yourself, but doing so will “set you up for healthy relationship dynamics for years to come.” That means setting boundaries, balancing your own needs and comfort levels, and talking about your feelings. “Remind yourself that both you and the person you are dating have whole lives going on outside of each other,” Liakos says. “We cannot read each other’s minds and we often find ourselves making assumptions when we do not have all the information to work with.”
Questions to ask yourself:
Do I like the other person, or am I just worried about if they like me?
How do I feel after a date? Do I feel excited and energized, or anxious and stressed?
Am I expressing my emotional needs? Is the person I’m dating receptive to them?