10 Lessons I Learned from Dating

By Marina Krivonossova on May 21, 2021

Dating: for many of us, it’s an integral part of the high school, college, and post-grad experience. Some people prefer casual dating, others prefer serious relationships, and many don’t even like labeling their romantic entanglements. As someone who went through a mix of all of the above during my dating career, I can vouch for the fact that it was one of the best things I did for myself. Dating different people helped me learn so much about myself, human relationships, and social interaction in general. Stick around to read in more detail about the ten lessons I learned from dating.

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1. No two people are the same. Just because you dated a football player from Connecticut who broke your heart, it doesn’t mean every football player from Connecticut is going to do that. Just because you’ve had bad luck with dating singers, it doesn’t mean all singers are out to get you. When we get caught up in the world of negative dating experiences, it becomes easy to generalize and make such assumptions. But the reality is that no two people are the same. Just remember that even if someone shares some background traits with a person who wasn’t kind to you, it doesn’t mean this new person also has malicious intentions. Making generalizations in the vast world of dating is bound to backfire on you.

2. It’s okay (and even normal) to not have a type. I’ve had friends, family, and dates all ask me what my type is when it comes to dating. I’ve thought about it on so many occasions, and I came to the conclusion that I don’t have a type. And after talking to some other people, I realized that while it’s common to ask a person what their type is, it’s not as common to actually know what your type is, or even to have a type. Date who you like — you’re not obligated to narrow down your tastes to a handful of specific categories.

3. Dating/relationships won’t make you happy if you’re not happy by yourself. If you chase relationships and dates because you think doing so will make you happy… Think again. You won’t find happiness in material things, and you sure won’t find it in dependent emotional bonds. Your relationships might not last forever. The person you’re dating might be out of your life before you know it. But you know whom you do have to spend forever with? Yourself. So the best thing you can do is make sure you’re happy on your own, and that you’re not chasing dates and relationships in an attempt to secure happiness.

4. It’s good to be different from the person you’re dating. Sure, it’s great that you both enjoy hiking and can go explore new trails together. It’s also nice to date a fellow bookworm with whom you can exchange novel recommendations. But having everything in common can get real boring, real fast. It’s great to be similar, but it’s even better to be different. Date a person who introduces you to new things, and somebody for whom you can do the same. Let your date take you on your first snorkeling experience, after which you take them to eat sushi for the first time. As long as you’re both open to trying new things, dating a person with whom you don’t have everything in common with is seriously the best.

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5. Online dating isn’t taboo. We all know that person who met their partner on Tinder, yet still somehow claims they accidentally ran into each other at the grocery store. Or the couple who met on OkCupid, but always tells the story about meeting at the local coffee shop. But guess what? It’s 2021! The world has gone digital, so many of us are working and learning remotely, and meeting people with the help of technology has become the most normal thing. So don’t be afraid of signing up for a dating website. You never know what kind of awesome people you’ll meet out there!

6. You’ll never be able to force your partner to change. Don’t keep dating a person under the pretense of changing something major about them. Sure, there’s little things that you might manage to change. Like, if they constantly throw their dirty clothes on the floor, you may just be able to persuade them to use the laundry hamper. But when it comes to things like ambitions, personality traits, plans for the future, and other major life items, don’t expect to be able to change your partner’s ways. And think about it: more likely than not, they wouldn’t be able to change yours. At a certain point, you either have to accept your partner for who they are or come to terms with the fact that they might not be the right person for you.

7. Staying true to yourself is important. The person you’re dating is of course going to be important to you. They may even start to play an integral part in your life. But never let yourself change for the person you’re dating. Don’t put aside your dreams, don’t alter your life goals, and don’t try to compromise on things that mean the world to you. Relationships and dating don’t work if we don’t give in here and there — that’s a given. But when it comes to things you’ve set your heart on, stay true to yourself and work towards the life which you want. Don’t make choices that you’ll regret looking back on one day. Stay true to yourself in everything you do, including dating.

8. A failed relationship isn’t the end of the world. Not all relationships are meant to last, even if in the moment you really want them to. Not all the people you date will be what they seem. You may date someone — you may even get engaged — and then one day, you’ll watch that reality crumble before your very eyes. You’re allowed to be sad when it happens. You’re allowed to mourn the end of an important time in your life, you’re allowed to cry, and you’re allowed to experience the negativity that seems to take over your life in that moment. But through it all, be sure to remind yourself that better things are to come and that a failed relationship certainly isn’t the end of the world.

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9. Just because you’re good as friends, it doesn’t mean you’ll make a good couple. A lot of people seem to say that the best relationships start off as friendships. While there’s certainly some truth to it (I personally believe that your partner should be your best friend), it’s important to remember that not all good friends will make good couples. Dating takes friendships to a whole new level, testing them in the process. If you feel like you want to date your friend, and they’re interested in you as well — go for it. But do keep in mind that while it’s easy to go from a friendship to a relationship, it’s much harder to go back if things don’t work out as planned.

10. It’s normal to question your sexuality. One of the big things that you might start to wonder when you dive into the world of dating is whom you’re interested in. A lot of people hide this feeling, admitting they feel guilty for questioning their sexual orientation. The reality of the situation is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, and it’s a totally normal thing to wonder and want to figure out about yourself. Love is love, and no matter whom you’re interested in, your value as a person does not decrease. What matters is you’re staying true to yourself and pursuing relationships and seeking out dates with people whom you truly want to be with — not the people society tells you to be with.

All in all, those are the main 10 lessons I learned from dating over the course of my life thus far. Everyone has different experiences with dating and relationships, and we’re all bound to come out with different lessons learned. If you learned a lesson through dating that I failed to mention, drop it in the comments below. It’s always interesting to see how people’s experiences compare!

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