Relationships

14 Great Reader Comments on Dating

best dating advice

Dating can be exhilarating, exhausting, everything in between — and something we’ve all got a lot to say about. Whenever we post a story about the single life, without fail the comment section offers smart takes on the ups and downs of putting yourself out there, falling in love and breaking up. Here are some of our favorites…

On unexpected questions:

“I was recently on a first date with a guy who asked, ‘What’s one personality trait you hope other people pick up on about you?’ It caught me off-guard, but it led to my taking a moment to think about what I like about myself. I told him I wanted other people to see me as someone who is present and lives in the moment. He then asked if I was living in the moment right then with him. It was a kind of sexy, intimate exchange.” — Susie

On fun activities:

“My best first date began with a trip to the movies. I’m awkward when I first meet people, so this was perfect. We didn’t have to talk too much at the beginning; we could just spend time in each other’s company. Afterward, at dinner, there was plenty to talk about.” — Emily

On being upfront:

“I have always believed in being just as upfront, direct and ambitious about my personal goals as I am about my career goals. I think too often we think that being ‘feminist’ translates into being relaxed about marriage and kid timelines, ‘seeing where things go,’ and not having high expectations of the people we’re with.” — Bea

On date prep:

“My friend and I had this ritual of singing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ to each other over the phone before a first date to help calm each other’s nerves.” — Jenny

On being yourself:

“On my first date with my fiancé, I brought up this old (slightly embarrassing) video game about dogs that I played as a child and said that I wanted to track it down. After blurting that out, I immediately regretted it. Had I exposed too much ‘weird’? But then he told me that he had bought that same game on a whim just two months earlier. On our second date (the very next day), we played it together on his front porch.” — Sasha

“When I was starting to date after my divorce, I felt this horrible need to apologize for the ‘complications’ of my life. But then I thought: ‘Wait. If I’m hiding who I am from the person I want to love me, who are they really loving, anyway?’ (I’m 38 years old, by the way; the learning never stops. Also, three cheers for good therapists.) The relationship I’m in now is so different: I feel loved for who I am, all of me, even the difficult parts. Asking for what we need and believing that we deserve is EVERYTHING.” — Molly

On feeling confused:

“I read a great quote once that summed up dating for me: ‘If he or she likes you, you will know. If he or she doesn’t, you will be ‘confused’.’ I wish I had read this when I went through a long period of confusion! I’m now in a relationship with a long-time friend who I’m not embarrassed around and isn’t embarrassed by me, even when I car dance to Copacabana on the radio.” — Emmy

On breakup advice:

“The best breakup advice I ever had was from an old boss who told me to do something for myself. In a relationship, you often consider someone else and never just focus on YOU. I took up running and that was (and still is) my head space time. It has helped my self-esteem – whenever I was worried about something relating to my ex, I’d either have resolved it by the end of the run or be too exhausted to care!” — Loveyesok

On romantic walks:

“When my partner and I were still dating, we used to walk from one of our apartments to the other, across San Francisco. We didn’t check cell phones or anything, just walked and talked. It was the best way to get to know one another.” — Lily

“A long time ago, I read a study that men are often more comfortable talking side by side and women are more comfortable talking face to face. (Next time you’re at a party, you’ll see this behavior happening!) I’m always afraid of running out of conversation, so my trick is to schedule a first date activity – a walk through a park, sitting at the bar – whatever allows us to walk side by side. I don’t know if it always makes a difference, but it makes me feel more comfortable!” — Kimberley

“I ALWAYS wear flats. That way, if we take a walk after dinner or stand up at the bar, I won’t be wobbling around or getting blisters.” — Natalie

On knowing when someone is the one:

“For me, this ‘lightbulb feeling’ everyone talks about just comes and goes. Some days, I feel that my boyfriend is the absolute one and I cannot possibly live without him. And other times, I’m just not sure. I feel there’s unnecessary pressure on couples to feel/find/determine this one moment of certainty that will define their relationship forever. That’s unrealistic. People are so much deeper than that.” — Amy

On loving yourself:

“I met someone new and started training for a marathon in the same week. Training has made me feel super connected to my body in a new way and has helped with the confidence of getting to ‘be seen’ by someone new. He commented one day that my legs feel ‘so solid’ — not big or muscular or strong — and I loved it. Solid they are: these legs that can handle 26.2 miles are the same two legs that wrap around him at night to feel safe and secure. Cheers to solid women who are loved by solid men.” — Allison

On going for nice:

“My grandfather recently passed away at the age of 94. He and my grandmother were married for nearly 74 years. I spent time with her on the day of the funeral, just holding her hand and listening to what she had to say. At one point, she turned to me, looked me in eye, and said, ‘He was never mean.’ A fine legacy for a wonderful man.” — Tricia

Thoughts? Do you have any dating advice?

P.S. 12 genius reader comments on career, and the best comments of all time.

  1. Emmanuelle says...

    Ohmygosh. Tricia, your grandfather must’ve been a saint. I can’t imagine going 94 years and never being mean. Haha. Big inspiration right there!

  2. Amanda says...

    I have been reading these comments for days now. It feels both liberating and extremely painful, all at the same time. I married young and have finally realized I believe I married the wrong person (after years of feeling like there was something wrong with me, because I wanted more than just watching TV together and having sex. I want an actual companion with whom I share interests and know on a deeply personal level.) Now that I’m older and know what I actually want (and who I am), I think dating will be easier to some extent… but it’s hard to know what the right decision actually is. Mostly because we have a young daughter, and that weighs on me heavily. Ugh.

    • Rue says...

      Hugs. I think that paying attention to those feelings, like the “what would dating be like?” feelings, is really important. It might lead you to become single and it might not, but I’m slowly learning that my feelings are giving me very important information that I should explore and seek to understand.

      When I commented on this post last week, I had been preparing myself for what it might feel like to dive back into online dating. I also started feeling nostalgic for an old relationship that I intellectually know isn’t the relationship for me. All of this while I was still dating someone. I went to my therapy session midweek feeling lost and miserable and unsure of WHY. By the end of the week I had ended my relationship, and while it’s painful, I also feel lighter and more like myself than I have in weeks or months.

      I’m not trying to compare a six month relationship with a marriage, but any means. But just to say that actually paying attention to my feelings rather than ignoring them, shaming myself about them, or trying to brute force my way to feeling differently, led me down a path I wasn’t quite expecting, but the path makes me happier than where I was before. I know you’ll find your path!

    • Amanda says...

      Oh Rue, hugs to you too! I never really knew what it meant to honor myself (and my feelings) until I started therapy this year. I was brought up to only really worry about what another person was feeling, not myself. This has brought on many revelations, and it’s a little scary to admit the life I truly want is not down the path I’m currently walking. Better late than never, right? So glad you have lightened your load a little. Best wishes to you!

  3. SC says...

    This post gives me hope. I’m 23, and I know I’m young, but it seems that most of my friends are dating or married. In the small town I live in, every eligible man gets snatched up and married off, literally so fast that I feel like it’s not fair that I didn’t even have time to process if I even thought he was cute. I’m also slowly but surely getting through some very bad social anxiety, which is maybe one of the reasons I’ve never been on a date. I think I’m a decent human being. I dress my age, I have a job that I love, I get compliments on how I smell good, Iv’e been told many a time that I should model, so I’m not that shabby to look at, I have a wide variety of talents, I really do love people, and Im known to be a good cook. Sometimes I just wonder if there’s something wrong with me, and I have a terrible time going out, and actually finding anyone male to even start a conversation with. Does anyone have any advice? I’ve tried connecting with guy friends on Facebook, but no one seems interested and they usually end with “have a nice day, I’ll let you know if I’m ever in town” (which never happens) or “thanks for chatting. Talk to you later” (which also happens). I don’t know what to do. Help!

    • Brianna says...

      I am in the same boat! I’m 24, I live in a small town, and I just marvel at all the comments on here with everyone’s extensive dating experience. It is not the case with us small-town girls. I don’t have any advice to offer (in fact I could use some myself), but just know that you are not alone!

    • Emmanuelle says...

      I’d very much put myself out there. I live in a big town but everyone is so closed off in l.a. or in their own car/world that emotionally it can feel like a small town. The best advice I got was to be very explicit in what you’re looking for, whether that means on a dating site or in person or however you go about meeting people. The important part is to thank about all the qualities you’d like in a mate and what lifestyle or values you’d like your relationship to have. The more detailed the better so there’s no confusion. Then put it out there. I don’t know if this answers your question even a little but it helped me a lot. :)

  4. Sasha says...

    Is talking side by side why it’s sometimes easier to have long meaningful conversations on long car trips? That and the fact that you are trapped! It all makes sense now!

  5. Ella says...

    I have actually been meaning to comment on another post you made awhile back about how you know your partner is the one but I guess I will make my comment here instead :)

    I was with my ex for close to a decade and neither of us really ever wanted to marry the other and he definitely got on my nerves a lot. Nice guy, but I honestly had just settled. I figured we might end up getting married because we’d been together so long and everything was “fine.” Actually when I read your post on the one when we were together, I remember thinking how uncertainty is common and no big deal. Well, due to the uncertainty I actually ended up breaking up with him this summer and I started dating my current boyfriend shortly thereafter. Maybe it sounds crazy to get into another relationship so fast, but with him everything is different. We clicked instantly and we fell in love so fast. It’s only been two months and honestly if he proposed I’d say yes without hesitation. He truly listens to me and we have so much fun even going to the grocery store together. Everything just feels right, even though I’ve always been the practical type who thought I’d always follow a timeline that dictated when to move in together/get engaged/etc.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, if you feel doubt or feel like you’re settling, don’t. You deserve to be in a relationship where each person feels truly loved for who they are. I rarely comment and have a hard time getting my emotions out without feeling silly, but thank you for this blog. I read every post.

  6. Kristy says...

    I’d be curious to hear about a men’s perspective on dating and breaking up and love. Maybe as a woman I just tend to come across women’s feelings, but I feel like women do a lot more introspective work regarding relationships when it comes to (trying to) get into one, or leaving one. I follow all these great female Instagram artistic and writer accounts (including Mari Andrew and your former editor Caroline) that talk about love and heartbreak and would love to know if there are male versions. I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t as many on account of men not encouraged to share vulnerable emotions (but it’s getting better I think!)

    • Stefanie says...

      YES!! I would love to read mens perspectives on here aswell :))
      Could you do it Cup of Jo-Team?

    • Emma says...

      Second this. I have yet to come across any blog with a man’s intimate perspective on relationships (or really any kind of *feelings* except maybe some comments about capital-F Fatherhood) and would (a) love for men to think about this stuff more and would also (b) love to hear/read those perspectives. The Dear Sugar podcast is a start. Anyone have other recommendations?

  7. sadie says...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting the “On knowing when someone is the one”… I feel that exact way and I feel so validated that I’m not the only one! Most days I feel connected and “Yeah!” about my boyfriend of 2+ years. But sometimes I’m like, “Ah…..what?” People are strange creatures! :)

  8. Amanda Blair Hopkins says...

    Oh man! This post and these comments are making my month. I’m 32, I live in Greenpoint (Brooklyn) and I’ve been single for 8 Years. I go back and forth with how I feel about it – strong and confident one day, sad and lonely the next. I recently left the country to travel around Asia for 7 months and it’s been so, so, great. I’m doing it alone and I will say, it’s tough at times. I did meet someone and we spent 5 blissful days sharing deep, soulful conversation that blew my mind. I had always wanted to experience a deep, passionate and spiritually connected love and I did! Granted it was only 5 days but, it was still beautiful. Another commentor posted a Nariyya Waheed (god i love her!) quote about letting a relationship be what it is. I truly believe the 5 day guy was a soul mate— he taught me so much about myself, I felt seen and accepted and we had magic. Do I want a longer commitment?! Hell yes! I want babies and a husband BUT, I think appreciating the magic moments among the long journey to finding the right partner, make dating that much more enjoyable. And when I experience something I really like, I offer a prayer of gratitude to the universe and then say, I would like more please!

    • Emilie says...

      I am right here with you, Amanda! I am almost 30 and have been single for four years. I date often and have had a series of shorter relationships that have ended (usually by me) not because there was anything wrong with the men – the majority of them were kind and wonderful – but because I enjoy my independence and do not want to settle. I don’t think there is one person out there for everyone, but I want that “can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kind of stuff” feeling, at least at the beginning. While it is less and less common for women our age to be single, I think it is underrated. In a way, to even be able to be a single and self-sufficient woman is a privilege that was denied to many women before us, and many in other parts of the world today. I have learned so much about myself over the past four years because I no longer spend all my time worrying about someone else. If and when a “World Series” feeling comes along again, I am now confident that I will recognize it and be able to offer “the real me” to the relationship. And, on the lonelier nights, I remember one of my favourite adages: Better to be home alone than home wishing you were alone. Here’s to you on your amazing adventure, meeting soul mates along the way. I am with you in spirit!

    • Emmanuelle says...

      Amanda, that’s so great! I’m 32 also. Not single but have been for many years in my 20s. I love and live for those magic moments. I feel like a compromise with a longer steady relationship is that it feels like you’re giving up some of that first dating magic. I’ll have to look forward to other types of magic moments. Thanks for your thoughtful post and thrilling story.

  9. Anon says...

    I’m not sure I agree about the confusion meaning someone doesn’t like you. I went on 4 dates with my now husband without him making any attempt to kiss me. I was CONFUSED!! For me, they were clearly dates as we had met in a bar and arranged to meet again, for dinner, cinema, coffee…etc. After hashing over all the possible reasons with my friends, I finally had to know if I had misread the situation and I kissed HIM. Afterwards he told me that he had just been too nervous and also, as he was using crutches at the time, didn’t quite know how to go about it.

    • Amy says...

      SAME! He drove me home on the second date. It was cold, snowing, perfect atmosphere for a first kiss…then we got to my place and he LEAPT out of the car to hug me goodnight. I was certain that was the end of it and lamented to my roommates that he must not be that into me.

      Turns out he was just shy and had actually never kissed anyone at all and didn’t know how to start! I kissed him at the end of the third date and now we live together :)

  10. Amy’s candor is really appreciated. It sounds so stupid, but I remember shaking my husband’s hand and feeling an electricity I’d never experienced before. I remember it so well, because I told myself I was being stupid and I’d never see him again. That was 12 years ago the day before Thanksgiving!

    While I definitely think relationships can be hard, most days he makes me elated. Then other days, I need space. But to say everything is perfection every day is just not realistic. Thanks Amy!

    • Eva says...

      I experienced something very similar (and my name is also Eva—hi!). I shook my husband’s hand and felt something… different. It was a really brief moment, and he was quickly drawn away into the crowd, but I immediately turned to my friend and said, “I’m kind of into your friend.” I knew nothing about him at all, I just knew I wanted to be near him. We started talking later that night, and haven’t been apart since for nearly four years.

  11. Jessie says...

    I’m 26 and have been with my partner for almost 7 years. I am a child of divorced parents and I panicked so many times that I’m wrong, that I’m settling, that I’m foolish for staying with my college boyfriend. And then I look at my partner. He is my favorite human person. He is still my favorite part of every day. He makes me better and I make him better. And he makes me laugh every single day.
    I don’t know what forever feels like. I am a terrifyingly pragmatic realist. But as long as I know these to be true (they’re different sentences for everyone, I’m sure!), I know I’m in the right place, right here, right now.

    • Ellen says...

      Jessie, I feel we are the same person. I’m 26 in 3 weeks, have been with my boyfriend for almost 7 years, and I’m the child of divorced parents etc. He and I are equally pragmatic and have always joked that we can see ourselves together for 20 years (because forever seemed too bold). Each anniversary we say “X years to go”. When we first got together I went to Europe alone for 2 months and we spoke every day. He got to the airport a whole day early (my fault) and we were beyond excited to see each other again. I still feel the same way every day when we get home from work. Just truly over the moon to hang out. Here’s to 13 more years… or forever ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you guys sound so cute :)

    • Jessie says...

      Ellen —
      I can’t figure out how to reply to your comment but THANK YOU! WE ARE SOUL TWINS! Your reply made my heart sing and your relationship sounds so sweet and beautiful. I hope you continue to find pragmatic happiness :) To 13 more years for both of us (and maybe 13 after that).

  12. Alyssa says...

    This post & all of these lovely comments are so uplifting. It’s like we’ve found a community of like-minded, fierce, wonderful women all hoping to find that which they desire.

    As a serial dater (gosh I’ve had a lot of short-term relationships), I find that I’m constantly seeking the right relationship only to get sucked in to something just because it feels less lonely than being alone. I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and just wait for things to come my way. But it’s hard when you see yourself (at 27, almost 28 in my case) and think – gosh, I didn’t want to get married and have a kid so late. But ultimately, this is where I am, so I need to embrace it.

    I do love the comment about feeling confused if someone’s not into you. Wish I’d have known that years ago.

    • Alice says...

      Alyssa, it sounds like we are basically the same person. I am also 27, almost 28, and have also had lots of short term relationships because I was worried about being alone! I also always thought I’d be married and have kids by this point- and yes, it’s hard when that doesn’t happen.
      I broke up with a not-nice man earlier this year, and very unexpectedly met the man I’ve been dating for two months back in September, and this fledgling relationship feels SO different, and so good (though a friend reminded me recently that I say that about all new relationships, so I could be wrong, though I hope I’m not). But when I met him, I really was, and in some ways still am, ready to just embrace the life I had/ have.

      Basically, what I am trying to say is to trust the timing of your life- things never go the way we expect, and having a ‘plan’ is a fast track to misery, in my experience. Sending love.

    • Anna says...

      Alyssa, Alice, I’m joining the “A” names club! Soul sisters!

      Anna here and I’m also 27 about to turn 28 in June next year. A few weeks ago, my ex broke up with me for the second time in 4 years. This is by far the most serious relationship I’ve had and it got to the point where I was so looking forward to building a life with a partner and seeing kids and a dog in the future. Unfortunately, he’s not anywhere near ready and I guess he wasn’t even sure I was the one for him.

      I’ve also thought of myself as a strong, independent woman (having lived halfway across the world and a 16 hour direct flight from my family since college at 17) who didn’t “need” a man to make my life complete but oh it hurts so much sometimes to feel alone.

      I’m still slowly working on getting back on my feet and back to my normal bubbly self but it’s hard. Long strolls through Central Park. the book Dear Sugar and yoga help immensely but I know it will just take time.

      Here’s to all of us finding our own happiness and hopefully finding the right partner at the right magical time for us :)

    • Alice says...

      Anna, complete soul sisters!!

      I’m so sorry to hear about your break up. That really does sound so tough, and particularly at this time of year. It sounds like you guys were in different places, and I think there are few things harder than that. And re: feeling alone… isn’t that the hardest?! When you feel like you shouldn’t *need* someone, but actually, it’s really nice to have someone there? You aren’t alone in feeling that way, I promise!

      It will take time- but walks in Central Park and yoga and Dear Sugars (YES YES YES!) will 110% help!

      Sending love to you from London- if I was in NY, I’d take you for cake and a walk. :)

    • Anna says...

      Alice, your response totally made me smile :) I appreciate the encouraging and kind words! I’m trying to stay in a mostly happy and festive spirit for the holidays and am looking forward to see family in Hong Kong soon. Happy Holidays and sending you warm wishes from NYC!

    • Alice says...

      I’m so glad Anna. Definitely stay in a happy and festive mood for the holidays (however sh*t this time of year can be!) and enjoy your family time in Hong Kong!! Happy holidays, sending warm wishes right back from London!

  13. AB says...

    I was wondering if you can do a post or some sort of series on the tough parts of relationships/marriages. I’m 28 and got married 1 1/2 years ago. Some weeks I feel like I made the biggest mistake of my life. He is my first and only relationship. I’m the first of my friends to get married, so I don’t know who to talk to about this. I’m going to a therapist to sort through this. Either way, I think it will be helpful for people in fulfilling relationships to talk about some of the doubts they have/do experience.
    Thank you.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s a great idea, AB. thank you so much, and hope the therapy helps you figure out what’s best for you. you sound like a wonderful, thoughtful person, and no matter what, i know you have lots of happy times ahead for you xoxo

  14. Laura says...

    I know this is an unpopular opinion but I really don’t believe in the concept of “the one,” and I think it can set unrealistically high expectations for people who are dating. I love my husband but I am under no illusion that he is the only person in the world for me. A healthy relationship is about finding someone with whom you are compatible and making a commitment to continue loving that person. Romantic? No. Practical? Yes!

    • Linda says...

      “A healthy relationship is about finding someone with whom you are compatible and making a commitment to continue loving that person.”
      That’s sound advice, Laura :)

    • Emma says...

      What if “the one” feeling is a symptom of having been in some dreadful past relationships? A relationship may feel so singularly different and healthy when compared to past relationships, and it may inspire positive self realizations… perhaps this creates that “the one” feeling about a relationship.

    • Rue says...

      It’s the “compatible” part that I struggle to find.

    • Charise says...

      I 100% agree with you – if there were such thing as “the one”, what are the odds that so many of us would have actually found our one soulmate as so many proclaim? I am divorced and now living with my new partner; I love him very much but it doesn’t take away from the fact I also loved my ex very much for the 12 years we were together or that only one of them could really be my “one”. I am all for the idea of finding someone with whom you have chemistry, compatible life goals and desires, and a commitment, and that isn’t less romantic to me than the idea of one soulmate.

    • Amy says...

      Amen!

  15. Beth says...

    Amy’s comment is everything. Really needed to read that today. <3

  16. Jacqueline says...

    Bea, I love this advice! When I was younger I was so caught up in trying to appear (and be) relaxed and carefree about everything. Once I embraced the fact that I am not a relaxed or carefree person, I felt so much more free! Now, when someone at work or at home tells me to “relax,” “stop being so sensitive,” and not to “take things personally,” I simply say that I am a very empathetic and caring person with whom things deeply resonate. Sometimes this is not ideal but you know what, we all have qualities that are sometimes not ideal. It’s what makes us human.
    Also, I learned when you stop spending so much time trying not to cry and just take 5 minutes to let it out, you can really get a lot done ;)

  17. Sarah says...

    The best advice I ever received about dating was this:

    You’ll know you’re with ‘the one’ when you love yourself as much as they love you. If there is an imbalance in these things, you’re not there yet. The person you’re with should enable you to love everything about yourself while simultaneously loving everything about them.

    When I read this, it sounded like bull- and then I met a guy, and he loved me so assuredly and showed me how amazing I was, and I was able to do the same for him, and suddenly I realized what I had been missing all along…

    • Mimi says...

      Love this! So happy for you. I share the same with my husband. It was so strange to feel so secure. Then I realized, duh, he really does love me! 5 years of marriage later and their hasn’t been a day I’ve doubted his love or adoration. I hope everyone can experience such love and security – whether it’s within a relationship, or from our own selves. Life just opens up..

  18. Amy says...

    After calling it quits with my fiance, I was so worn down to the bone. I knew it had been a toxic relationship – he had some past traumatic experiences that needed to be faced and it conflicted with our relationship. Even though I thought at the time I wanted to be with him, I knew that going back and forth so much was unhealthy and more than anything, I knew he needed to be by himself to face these issues head-on.

    His insecurities made him be brutally honest (in good and bad ways) with me and more often than not, overly critical of me in my appearance and in other ways as well. I felt myself becoming a shell of the person I was because I thought I needed to be the person HE needed. Parting ways was hard – I never thought I’d have to go through the whole dating world ever again.

    Fast forward and I am with a man that I never would have pictured being with. He makes me laugh constantly and is okay with the fact that I’m still dealing with some insecurities. We’ve built the relationship we have on a foundation of friendship – considering we’d known each other two years before dating. And although we see each other several time per week, I make sure I carve out a healthy chunk of time for myself now. He’s helped me realize that dating doesn’t have to be a rollercoaster of emotions and can be kept simple – with the right person. Out date nights consist of grabbing some grub (hole in the wall places are our favorite), having nostalgic gaming nights, cooking dinner together, and movies!

    **Sorry for the super long comment!**

    • belen says...

      I love your comment <3

  19. Rue says...

    Oof. Thanks for all of this. Currently seeing someone, but feeling really in the dark about whether it will last. A few months ago, I felt very vulnerable about the idea of dating again if my current relationship ends. Just in the last week, I’m starting to feel more hopeful, that if this isn’t meant to be, then dating will be a chance to learn more about me, and hopefully find someone who fits with me. It is so hard to be vulnerable and open the way dating and early-days relationships require. I find myself longing for the comfort and stability I felt in my last long term relationship, and I’m scared that I’m trying to make that comfort exist in places where maybe it doesn’t.

  20. Elizabeth says...

    A few years ago, I was recently back on the market after a tough breakup, one that really shattered my confidence and feeling of self-worth. Before any new first date, I would call my girlfriend Ellen to talk through my jitters, workshop my outfit, and generally just leverage her kickass attitude to psych myself up. I remember just before one particularly nerve-wrecking first date, saying to her that “I just really hope he likes me.” To which Elz brilliantly replied, “That’s ridiculous. You should really hope that YOU LIKE HIM.”

    It seems simple and obvious, but that total 180 in perspective changed everything for me. :)

    Sending all my love to the sisters out there who might need it right now. <3

    • Su says...

      That’s such an obvious comment, but one that I need to remember! Thank you.

      I’m going through a tough break up and just coming back into myself – I completely lost who I was. Hesitant about the dating game but hopeful. The comments here I wonderful!

  21. Alice says...

    I am reading these comments, listening to Taylor Swift, and all I can say is that Begin Again is the best soundtrack to this post:

    And you throw your head back laughing like a little kid/
    I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny ’cause he never did/
    I’ve been spending the last eight months/
    Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end/
    But on a Wednesday in a cafe I watched it begin again

    • Sharhaiah Chamberlain says...

      She’s got lyrics for every season of life!! Love her!

  22. S. says...

    Thank you so much for all these bits of advice … truly helpful.
    I still feel so young -I’m turning 26 in a month- and I’ve never really felt the pressure of getting into a relationship. Over the years I’ve had serious boyfriends, bad dates, one-night stands and the occasional heartbreak. But being by myself has always been my comfort zone.
    And then, this September, I’ve met someone wonderful, nice and funny and exactly the kind of person I’ve always thought I’d like to be with. I’ve never felt confused with him, which has been such a nice change from my past relationships. And … on our second date, he told me he had a 2-year-old daughter (who doesn’t live with him). He’s my age, so very young, too, and I never thought I’d have to think about these kind of things. Hell, I don’t even know if I want kids … I’ve been as honest as I can with him about I feel about it (confused, mostly). But among the many things that I like about him, I have to say the way he handles the situation (going back and forth to his hometown every other weekend, maintaining a good relationship with his ex who broke up with him when their child was a mere 3 months old, raising a daughter! all in good spirits and without a word of complaint, too) is so attractive. Maybe sometimes life throws you a curveball and you … just have to catch it. Sorry for the ramble :)

    • Jasna says...

      Dear S, I can say with great certainty that you found yourself a really nice guy!! The way a guy treats his ex partner and the child they have is a certain sign of whether he is a good person overall – and he definitely seems like he is!

  23. cat says...

    I keep refreshing this post to see if more comments have been posted. It feels like a lifeline for this romantically adrift 24 year-old. What a warm, funny, and wise community of women. Thank you thank you thank you!

  24. Brooke says...

    For deep, Wise, loving care while dating, I cannot recommend Sara Eckel’s work enough. She wrote one of the most read stories on Modern Love on NYT, and her book Its Not You: 27 Wrong Reasons You’re Single was the most healing compassion a book I’ve ever read about dating. She literally goes through all the criticism of people get who are looking for partnership and answers each one with mindful, and authentic things you can say to yourself when feeling self critical and to people in your community when they give advice or become critical. Oh my word,I’m so calm and happy just thinking about it again. Sending that compassion to each person commenting about longing here.

    • Brooke says...

      Ahh, should say “healing compassionate books” :).

    • Katie says...

      I’ve been looking for something like this. Thanks to your comment I just checked this out today!

    • Alyssa says...

      Just ordered this book thanks to your recommendation!

    • Brooke says...

      Katie and Alyssa, I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I am so happy to know this, thanks for saying! May the peace and humor and freedom from Sara bless you too. :) Would love to hear what you think.

      I think she’d be an AWESOME author for Cup of Jo to feature! She is smart, compassionate, funny, deeply insightful, kind like our community here :)

  25. Charlene Maxwell says...

    My grandmother is 95 years old and has been married for 67 years. When I was in college I came home from a break once and divulged excitedly about a guy I had just started dating, and how it was so much fun all the time. Her response was “tread carefully”. It didn’t work out with that brief romance but I think about her words all the time. Her expression was so wise and serious.
    She was the first person share with me the truth that relationships take a lot work and what’s worthwhile does not always come easy.

  26. Joannie says...

    My partner of 11 years had a psychotic break this summer, ended up in a mental hospital, and broke up with me. We had been waiting to have a baby until we were more financially stable. Now I find myself at 35, single, and feeling like this is the absolute worst time in a woman’s life to start dating. I feel so much pressure to find someone and beat my biological clock. To all the 23 and 26 year olds posting here, y’all have so much time! Be grateful for that.

    I went on my first 1st date in 11 years a couple weeks ago via a dating app and it was so confusing. I thought it went really well. We had 4 hours of non-awkward conversation, lots in common, and he even kissed me goodnight. But then I got “ghosted”, which is something which was not in our lexicon the last time I was single. My single girlfriends tell me this is the new norm. With dating apps, people treat you as disposable since it’s so easy to get a date. I think I’m going to stick to meeting people in person.

    The problem with that is…I’m shy! I don’t know how to convey to a guy that I’m interested without embarrassing myself. Most people my age are married or in a relationship already, and I bet single guys assume the same about me. How do I subtly find out if they aren’t?

    • S says...

      So, SO much love to you.

    • Su says...

      Joannie you’re not alone and your story sounds very similar to mine. 35, suddenly single and feeling the pressure to find a partner. I did the dating app game but it’s just not me and there is a lack of respect that I truly dislike. Sending lots of love to you!

    • Anna says...

      Oh Joannie, hugs to you! Unfortunately “ghosting” is kind of a thing now, along with staring at your phone for way too long at dinner during a date. But please don’t get discouraged with dating apps, they just reflect a wide variety of people, I’m sure there’s gentlemen on there too :)

  27. Lily says...

    Ahh, my comment was featured! I love it. Now that we’re married with kids the equivalent to long walks is tandem kid naps in the car. Driving together, talking without interruptions, listening to actual music. Bliss. <3

    • Brittany says...

      Haha, this is amazing. I smiled when I read that comment because my partner and I go on long walks all the time. Now I am wondering if kid car naps are our future….

  28. Dp says...

    Thanks for this! Joanna – an idea for you! Can we do a series on love stories similar to “My Beauty Uniform”? It’d be lovely to read the love stories of real people & fellow readers. How they met, what drew them into each other, what made them say yes.

    • Allie says...

      love this!

    • Brittany says...

      YES but also about real argument strategies – I’m so sick of “never go to bed angry ” – I love sleeping anger off. When an argument gets started, my partner and I have started to take a deep breath and apologize right away, both of us, no matter what. It gets the pride out of the way and sets the tone for working things out more gently.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, sleeping anger off is sometimes the best way, i think! for us at least. when i’m tired and it’s late, i’m so much more dramatic! :)

    • Mimi says...

      Oh yes, please! That would be so so wonderful. Such a sweet idea :)

  29. oof. the part about being confused resonated so much. been feeling quite confused after an unromantic-romantic date last weekend.
    is he in to me?
    is he just being nice to me?
    so many questions!

  30. mt says...

    Here’s my advice: There’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t want to be in a romantic relationship. It’s not a necessary ingredient for a happy and fulfilled life, and you’re not deficient if they don’t work for you.

    I’m an autistic woman, and I have no desire for relationships beyond friendships. When I decided a few years ago that I was done with the whole shebang, however, many people expressed a sentiment that I find to be bizarre, namely that they couldn’t understand how it never worked out because I am a beautiful woman with a PhD, &ct &ct. Implicit in this is the idea that there must be something wrong me, otherwise I’d be paired. This is simply not the case. Historically, I’ve dated a number of truly wonderful men that fit the bill for ‘the one.’ Yet, I dislike the version of myself that I am in relationships, and, at the end of the day, I’m simply much happier/lower stress on my own.

    I wish someone had told me earlier in life that it doesn’t mean you’re a witch or something if you much prefer being on your lonesome.

  31. Em Marie says...

    Amy’s comment brought tears to my eyes. I’m currently in my longest relationship with a man who was married for 15+ years before we met, and we’re going through rough life things that are seeping into our relationship. I needed to hear that i don’t need to “know” all the time. Thank you!

    • Alex says...

      Hello, I know what you’re talking about :). Having a relationship with someone who has a “history” can be so hard…..

  32. Christine says...

    I wish I had read the quote about feeling confused a long time ago too, but better late than never! As always, these COJ comments (in the post and below!) make me feel less alone as a 30 year old single girl with a string of dating disasters behind me!

  33. Jayme says...

    I would like to know if people think chemistry can grow over time. After a few dates with a great guy, tons of laughing, and lots in common, I’m just not feeling the spark. He is!

    • Tis says...

      I think the spark thing is SOOO over-rated. I had incredible spark with a guy…and I did three rounds with him over the course of 10 years that always ended in heartbreak and fury. Then the guy who turned into the love of my life came along. Every single day he impressed me with a quiet confidence until I was deeply in love.
      Do not drop this one yet! Give it time! Nothing wrong with a slow simmer. ;)

    • Tracey says...

      Yep! Married to my best friend who was firmly friend zoned but through his persistence he charmed me and I surrendered. Just be honest and let it play out.

    • Mirella says...

      YES! Time + honesty + giving yourself the courage to change your mind will help.

    • Victoria says...

      Totally! Time reveals EVERYTHING, for better or for worse. My husband and I started out this way. He told me he loved me after a few weeks of dating and I was mortified because I was only semi-attracted to him at the time and didn’t want to ruin our friendship. But I expressed how I felt and we continued to foster our relationship. And now I can’t imagine having better chemistry with anyone else.

    • January says...

      I’ll say a tentative yes (especially because it sounds like you really enjoy hanging out with this guy), but it doesn’t always happen. It’s confusing. :-/

    • Lea says...

      It’s like you read the question that’s been on my mind for weeks!

    • Jess says...

      I’ve only ever had feelings for people I knew for quite a while – basically, guys who I was friends with for months or years. So yes, it can.

    • Candice says...

      Without knowing much more, my gut reaction is this: be honest about it, but definitely give it a try! I think it’s possible. You’re obviously looking for a reason to keep at it so maybe “the spark” isn’t it’s usual recognizable self.

    • Kel says...

      Yes, totally the spark can grow over time. I was great friends with a guy for four years and I knew he really loved me, but I had no physical attraction to him. I thought the world of him and we were so great together, I knew he’d be the best of the best in my life… but after a few years I thought either I’d have to stop seeing him because it’s breaking his heart that I’m not reciprocating or I’d have to just go for it. Then one day, I just saw him a little differently–super tan from golfing all summer and just wafting a bit of sex appeal that hadn’t been there before for me. So I went for it. First couple of kisses were pretty awkward after so much friend time, but maybe third date after that it was four alarm fire and we were taking about getting married. We’ve been married 18 years, and the spark hasn’t fizzled yet. In fact, since he’s exactly the person I always knew he was and guys seem to just get better looking the more grey they get, I’m more and more on board every year!

    • Lucy says...

      Yes; chemistry can absolutely grow over time! I’d been seeing this lovely man for about a month. I thought he was very nice, we chatted companionably in each other’s company but I wasn’t sure it was going beyond the “friend zone”. Anyway it took an honest conversation where he asked me how I would feel about sleeping with him; I was a little taken aback, couldn’t think of a good reason why not to, and WHAM… the spark took us both by surprise. Fast forward 7 years and two children later. Get to know each other a little more, there might be something there. Cheers Lucy

    • Michelle says...

      Though I don’t know if it will happen for you, 100% yes it can happen. My first love was with a man who I didn’t feel immediately attracted to, but a male friend of mine helped me to see that I should give it a shot. The chemistry grew for me…over time I fell in love & became extremely attracted to him physically/etc., but it definitely wasn’t immediate for me like it was for him. It’s a difficult balance between staying openminded/openhearted & not forcing something that isn’t there.

    • I would say definitely! In fact, some of the best relationships I ever had were with guys I wasn’t super jazzed about on the first few dates but developed a deeper connection with and attraction to over time. And some of the worst relationships were those initial hot flames. Good luck!

    • Christy says...

      Oh yes, chemistry can grow over time. I have learned that, sometimes, chemistry grows out of immediate sparks. And I have learned that, sometimes, the sparks come after I learn how safe I am with someone.

      Of course, you shouldn’t date a jerk. But if this is a great guy who shares a lot in common with you, like you shared, you can opt to relax into it. You are exploring alongside him; you don’t need to know where it will go. You can give yourself the freedom to see how things unfold over time. :)

    • Jolanda says...

      I think it depends on what type of person you are. I was in a relationship once were I felt the spark almost right away, but the guy did not. One year in the relationship when we got to know each other a whole lot better he felt very different about that and 8 years later we are still happily together. So long story short, I think that depending on what type of person you chemistry can definetely grow over time :). That is no excuses to settle however!

    • Amanda says...

      For me, chemistry can grow over time if I feel compelled to be around him/her in the early stages.

    • Jessica says...

      I think yes! It always takes time for me.

    • Rae says...

      I absolutely do. I think in the beginning attraction comes from feeling excited, inspired, and intrigued by the other person which can grow out of laughing, connecting, sharing something the other person is passionate about. To sustain that chemistry I have to feel mutual respect– harder to suss out when you first meet someone.

    • Martha says...

      I think it can, I usually give people two dates before I nix it. My current boyfriend (of 3 years!) gave me a REALLY AWKWARD super long hug when we first met. The cynic in me was like, “definitely not.” But the kind person in me didn’t want to be so immediately judgmental. Sometimes people are better in other environments than others (ie, a quiet dinner vs. a walk in the park) so I think it’s fair to switch it up and see if that makes a difference!

    • Amy says...

      I’ve had it happen! I’m now dating a guy I never would have imagined dating before. In fact, we knew each other two years before we dated.

      I always thought he was nice, but didn’t talk to him a whole lot before. I didn’t give him any thought. But once we occasionally started talking and joking around with each other, sparks began to fly slowly but surely. Whenever we saw each other, the rest of the people would just disappear seemingly. Then one day, I found myself noticing what nice, strong forearms he has! It was then that I knew I liked him more than I’d thought.

    • Kirsten says...

      Just piling on with a resounding YES IT CAN!

      Tis’ comment feels so right–I felt ‘the spark’ so, so strongly and immediately with my last boyfriend who I was with for 6 years. We had a lot of chemistry but also a lot of problems, and of course it didn’t work out. After that, I ended up dating a guy from my graduate program who I never ever ever would have thought I would date. We never had a spark, per se, but I always felt so comfortable in my own skin with him and over time I fell completely in love with how caring and curious and fun he was. We’re married now. I now believe that the ‘spark’ is perhaps the exact wrong thing to look for.

    • Sarah says...

      I am also one who somehow always feels the spark with the “wrong’ guys. If that is you, maybe give it a longer chance, and also see his admiration for you as one of the nice qualities he’s bringing to the table—what good taste he has! I think in the end learned I prefer a smolder than a spark. I wasn’t sure about my now boyfriend on the first few dates but he was such a nice and considerate guy, and he was openly admiring of me and I told myself I should give things a chance to unfold. The spark wasn’t immediate but we sure did start to smolder and now we live together and I can’t get enough of him.

      On the flip side, if you know you’re just not feeling it, don’t feel bad about being honest about your feelings! No need to try and force it if it’s just not there.

  34. Michelle says...

    After a string of terrible relationships, I randomly went on a date with my current partner and slowly but surely we fell in love. He liked me for years before he asked me out, which I think is adorable :) We are happily together now. I believe his kindness and ability to make me laugh are the strong points in our relationship and what make our love so special. Kindness and laughter – for me, right now, that’s all I need.

    • Kindness and laughter. Yes, please.

    • AJ says...

      This is lovely to hear :) really sweet that he’d waited so long to ask you out!

  35. Hayley says...

    Dating can be so rough. After my ex boyfriend and I broke up in April I did heaps of work on myself to make sure I could go into my next relationship being open, vibrant, fun, vulnerable, and, most of all, completely myself. I met a great guy, and things were going well for a while, but he slowly started pulling away and then he broke up with my a few weeks ago, 6 months to the day after I was last broken up with. Apparently I was “too available” because I wanted to see each other 2-3 times a week and wasn’t happy with my texts going unanswered for 48+ hours.

    Sometimes say things like “you attract the love you deserve”, which sounds lovely when you’re in a great relationship, but when you’ve done lots of work on yourself and tried to be positive and upfront about what you wanted and you still get hurt, it really stings. What I wish someone had told me is that sometimes you just have bad luck, and although that sucks, it that doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong.

    • AJ says...

      Totally… it’s easy to think you have it all figured out when things are good and you’re happy and settled… but that may not last – as is my experience (yep, another break up) and then you’ve got to make sense of things all over again?! But sometimes , in fact often, there isn’t a simple explanation and it wasn’t anyone’s ‘fault’. Right now I’m far too raw and my faith in relationships (mine!!) has been completely zapped, so the idea of dating again feels a million miles away. But you are right- you did nothing wrong. Being yourself is never wrong x

    • Jolanda says...

      Sometimes you just have bad lucht and that sucks but is not your fault :). There: you have it. When you loves you I am sure you will find the right person. That does not mean that you will be married with kids by the age of 35. That is not how love works or should work for everyone.

    • Cait says...

      It sounds like he was searching for an excuse to give. Please don’t let that affect how you act in the future. For a serious relationship, neither of those expectations is unrealistic in the slightest. It does suck and it does hurt, but I promise one day you’ll understand why each thing happened the way it did.

  36. Alice says...

    Amazing, Allison!

    My dad told me to beware of men who enjoyed the chase. My mum told me not to be swayed by ideas of what to expect; a marriage, kids, one long term love, and to trust my instinct in matters of love. I did, I do actually have those things, but if I didn’t my life would still be rich.
    I also partook in chase, and it was fun! But then not led to so much more!

  37. Alex says...

    But what do you do when it’s just not happening?

    I’m in my mid-20s and feeling hopelessly single. Other than one college boyfriend, I’ve always been the single girl. Right now, all of my close friends are in relationships, resulting in me spending a lot of time by myself. I love a good night alone with a movie and wine, but when it becomes every night of the week, it starts to feel heartbreaking. I am grateful for my life, it really is good! But at the end of the day, I would do anything to have someone to make dinner with and talk about our days. I used to think that wasn’t asking too much, but it is seeming impossible these days.

    In the past few years I have met several guys who I knew were at least somewhat interested, but nothing ever comes of it. Not even a date! And certainly not a commitment of any kind. I’ve tried apps, getting set up, meeting friends of friends, and nothing has happened. What do you do when you fear you’ll always feel so lonely and left out?

    • Morgan says...

      I feel this too, Alex. I’m 26 and for the past three years I’ve been the single woman in my group of coupled friends. Over the years I’ve seen my friends find great partners, develop long term relationships, and get married, but besides the odd casual fling and crush, I’ve remained by myself. I tell myself it’s because I have high standards and that I’m focusing on my career, but I also have that fear of not meeting the “one”.
      I’d love to read a Cup of Jo post about HOW to meet people to date. I’ve tried apps and they don’t feel right to me, my close and mutual friends are all in relationships, and although I’m involved in several organizations in my community, there haven’t been any sparks.

      Some of the quotes brought a tear to my eye – I know I need to raise my expectations of the people I see and to not pursue people who make me feel “confused”, but it can be hard to demand those standards for yourself when you want something so badly.

    • Lindsay says...

      I highly recommend the book “The Defining Decade” by Meg Jay. I was in the exact same spot as you roughly 3 years ago and it really helped me figure out if I wanted a relationship or if I wanted to pursue my career, etc. It helped me be me and figure out what I wanted the most next!

      I hated this advice when I was in your same spot but man, now I know it’s the truth: You will find your person when you’re meant to find your person. It’s so frustrating, but in the end, all the searching will be worth it!

    • D says...

      Alex, thank you so much for sharing. It resonated with me very much! I, too, feel like I’m in the same/similar boat. Spoiler alert: I don’t have a quick fix, but hopefully I can offer a bit of support.

      Perhaps you feel the same as I do about your friends, that they are glorious and a joy to be with (even their partners are fun!). And yet, recently at a delightful party I noticed I’d been sucked out of the present and into my head, preoccupied with how single I felt and how insecure that made me.

      Often, though not always, the culprit behind this insecurity is the notion that we find validation through finding a partner. That’s not our fault, that’s the culture we’ve been fed. I *try* to beat this pattern of insecure thoughts, at least in that moment, by reframing the situation: If someone I loved and respected expressed disappointment or shame about being single, I would be kind and generous. I certainly wouldn’t think less of them for being single, and I wouldn’t be concerned that they were doomed for loneliness. I admit this is easier said than done, but I actively remind myself that I have to be just as generous in the support and love I give myself as I try to give to others.

      It doesn’t *fix* the source of frustration, but I hope you can remember to be kind and truly loving to yourself :-)

    • DIANA says...

      Hi and same!
      I’m in my late twenties, hella single and feeling less bad about it. I have found so much solace in the fact that these “somewhat interested” guys are just that- only somewhat into me. And what a disservice it would be to myself if I actually dated any of those guys! Tell your girlfriends how you’re feeling and ask for a little more girl-time. Also, start socializing without the pressure of meeting someone special. I like to throw parties in my tiny apartment and organize a small “Bar Club” out with friends. Sharing a deep conversation or deep belly laughs with friends gives you that same high you get when you meet a hot guy who smiles at you (with much less risk of disappointment). Take penis off the table- meet new guys without thinking of them as prospects. It has totally changed my outlook and freed me up to be myself more completely. I don’t know if you do this, but I have stopped drinking IPA’s and pretending to like sports, and I’ve started being more upfront about what I’m into and who I am, which is not the “cool girl” I pretended to be.

      Good Luck and RELAX!

    • Rachel Adrianna says...

      THIS. 27 and ALL of my college and high school friends are married (some having kids). A lot of us have a similar Protestant, conservative background, so part of me gets the “ring by spring” phenomena that my friends experienced senior year in college. But for the most part, I just feel lonely because the couples are all friends and I’m always left feeling like this: https://media.giphy.com/media/3o6gDYRFsaqB0PKwTK/giphy.gif . Dating websites have yielded ONE DATE for me, otherwise I get no traffic. So when other singles are complaining about The Dating Scene, I can’t even contribute to that because I’ve had one date in my whole life. I try telling my friends that it’s like trying to play a game when I don’t know the rules!

    • Julia says...

      All of this. I’ve felt the same way–every year I think things will change, or I’ll somehow meet someone, and somehow I’m 28 and have never sustained an actual relationship. I try not to lament on what feels like an extended period of bad luck and bad timing, but it is incredibly disheartening when you see so much love around happening for others. So please know that at least you’re not alone in feeling alone!

    • jilly says...

      When I was in this position, I took the initiative and asked out men I was attracted to. Just simple dates, to see if we could hang out together comfortably. All were flattered and said yes. Try that? Also, tell your friends to invite you to every party, dress beautifully, and GO!

    • T says...

      Oh Alex, I am sorry. I know that pain. When I was single and feeling down, I would always try to remind myself that I could possibly meet someone new at any given time! It’s almost magical to think of it that way. I would channel my frustration into something positive, kind of like a game. The excitement of never knowing what could happen next! My older sister met her now-husband on an airplane in her 20’s! They sat next to one another and the rest is history. My younger sister was once asked out on a date at the grocery store! She was young, 23! I once fell madly in love with a new next-door neighbor of mine and had a long-term relationship with him. I know it sometimes feels so black and white, like the only options are either A.) you’ll be set up by mutual friends or B.) you will meet on an app, but try and remember it’s often organic. I met my now-boyfriend at work, during his interview with my old office. You never know who could be interviewing at your office tomorrow! I have a set of married friends who met on the dance floor of a bar. And on and on. You never know how or when or why you’ll meet someone new! It’s way more exciting to think of it that way, in my opinion. Thinking of you during this season of loneliness and sending positive vibes your way!

    • Rebecca says...

      I am 27 and the constant single girl of my friends too. Besides the confusing boys I’ve never been in a serious relationship. I’ve always believed whole heartedly it will work out. I try to ignore the loneliness but at times I hate it so so much. Lately I’ve been avoiding my best friends because the activities they involve me in feel very coupley and I’m always the odd man out. I’ve been following my heart lately when it comes to my career and I’ve made some big changes. I’m hoping those changes will bring about new starts in all departments of my life. I’m trying to keep the hope alive. I will find that somebody. We all will. I just know it!

    • Kaaren says...

      I got married in my 20’s and divorced in my early 30’s. What I’ve learned is don’t be scared to spend your 20’s with YOU! I rushed. I wanted the ring and the dress and the husband. You change a lot and I think being in your 30’s is the time to find a partner for life, if it’s earlier or later that’s fine too!!! Take the pressure off. Do fun stuff. Travel. Date! Chill. That’s what I’ll tell my little girl when she’s older. Life isn’t a rush it’s to be savoured and enjoyed. (Easier said than done I want everything now!) find the right person at the right time…

    • Ker says...

      I have a bunch of close friends who are coupled up and a bunch who are struggling with being early-to-mid 30s and single. I’ve come to the conclusion that the issue is 99% random dumb luck. I just can’t tease out any logic to who ended up (apparently) happily married and who has found herself single but wishes she had met the right someone. I feel like society encourages us to find reasons for this and I’ve seen some single friends searching within (too picky? too career oriented? too rigid?) and doing amazing self reflection, and even seeing therapists. But I now just don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason to it. They’re simply unlucky and the people who met a partner are simply riding on some dumb luck (which can run out!). I’d love to know others’ thoughts on this.

    • Anon says...

      I would like to counter, in a way, those annoyingly laid back (and usually coupled up) people who say ‘just relax/don’t think about it and it will happen when you least expect it’ etc. When I met my now husband I was DESPERATE for a boyfriend and had been meeting lots of men and going on dates to no avail, even with people I wasn’t that intrested in. I was generally seeing 2-3 people at a time for short periods before things naturally died out. One night when I was moping about one or other of those ‘romances’ ending, a friend dragged me out for a drink (Sunday night, 6pm!) I went reluctantly, no make up or effort. Bumped into my husband who was VERY drunk and annoying but to whom I gave my number when he asked, presumably as part of my scattergun approach. We met up several times, I wasn’t sure, we met up a lot more. It became official but we didn’t talk about the future as I was an exchange student in his country and due to go home a month later. I extended my stay, then we ended up doing long term for a year whilst I finished my degree at home, the rest is history. Just keep going, meeting people, doing things, and dating. It’s all you can do! At worst you will have a lot of fun in the process.

    • Sarah says...

      I second what Ker said! The people who are partnered up are not the people who somehow held the key to self-love prior to meeting their partner, while all the poor singles are just running around blindly not knowing how to be happy with themselves! I agree a lot of it is just pure luck. The best we can do is try and be happy with circumstances and embrace the benefits of single freedom while dealing with the negatives. There is nothing wrong with longing to find someone, but don’t let it cheat you out of enjoying your life as it is right now.

  38. There was a Humans of NY post of an Argentinian couple that I took a screenshot of and keep on my phone:
    “We’ve gone forty years without insulting each other. There have been fights, but never insults.”

    It gets at the heart of what matters most to me in my marriage. To be in a relationship is to be vulnerable, and to continue to be vulnerable – to be fully yourself – you have to trust that your partner won’t take those moments when you’re at your most raw and use them against you.

    • katie says...

      I love this. Thank you so much!

    • Michelle says...

      Wow this is perfect. Thank you for sharing.

  39. AndreaJane says...

    I tell my impetuous single friend NOT to shave her legs before a first date. I like to think I’ve saved her from jumping into a number of dubious relationships because she moved too quickly.

    • Tess says...

      Also keep you apartment a tad messy- enough that you don’t really want a new person to see it (granted if s/her were the one, it wouldn’t matter anyway!). But that too keeps one from being less impulsive on the visit end of things!

    • Lara says...

      Hahaha. Except, Tess, I purposely left my apartment messy on my second date with my now boyfriend. I wound up inviting him over anyway! Forget wild horses, dirty dishes couldn’t keep us away.

  40. Steph says...

    I believe you do know when you have found the “one” when you are ready to realize it.

    I dated my now husband for the summer when I was 18 but he wanted something more serious and it was long distance, and we were young, etc. so I ended it. I thought of him many times over the years….

    After ending a dead-end long term bad relationship we randomly found each other on social media, living in the same city, and he had just ended his own dead-end long term relationship too. As SOON as I saw him again (we met for drinks to catch up) it was all over. We dated for a little while, moved in together almost immediately, got engaged, got married a year later, and now we have a 19 month old daughter! It has been the best whirlwind four and a half years!

    He told me he always considered me to be “the one that got away” and I say we weren’t ready for each other the first time around. We both took those years (7 of them) to become better versions of ourselves and our souls found their way back to each other at the perfect time.

    • I love this! :)

    • Alice says...

      I love this. There are so many versions of happily ever after and this is a really human, true, one. I feel like very few of us are ready at 18 to settle down, and some paths might make their way back and some onwards, but often teens just rosy up everything (I did!) and persevere too long (I did!) in the wrong situation.

    • Yulia says...

      My partner and I have the same story. We were friends in college, liked each other, but I deliberately never took it farther because it didn’t feel right. We reconnected in our mid-20s, both out of longer relationships, and knew almost immediately it was perfect. We’ve been together 7 years now and we’re glad we waited. We learned and matured so much in the years we were living our lives without each other. Now, friends our age (early or mid-30s) are getting divorced, and it’s always people who got together at a young age and couldn’t seem to handle growing up together. However, there are success stories featuring people who got together young. I just know I could never have been one of them, and I’m glad all of my previous relationships didn’t make it that far.

  41. katie says...

    On my 26th birthday I had a little epiphany as a result of my then-boyfriend being on & off the phone all night with his boss. I had been feeling increasingly insecure & confused about our relationship for awhile, but that night, as I sat staring out the car window while he spoke with his boss, I realized I felt worse with him than I did by myself. We broke up the next week. For me the takeaway is date someone who makes you feel even better than you already do by yourself. Date a guy who brings more joy and love into your life; not less.

    • Tess says...

      Amen, sister!!

    • Mimi says...

      So true! My grandmother advised me, “you can feel more alone with someone than on your own.” I couldn’t agree more!

    • Anonymous says...

      That was exactly the realization I came to with dating. I decided that I would rather be single than in an unhappy relationship. I started dating at 25 because I had things in my life during my teens and early 20’s that I wanted to resolve so I could be my healthiest self in a relationship. I dated 3 men before meeting my husband but I always felt like I was giving up too much of myself for the relationships. I was always back and forth in those relationships and thought it was just my tendency to overthink things. Then I met my husband and I felt like myself with him. I knew right away that we would end up together. It wasn’t so much about butterflies but about feeling at ease with him. I was drawn to his character and the space he gave me to be me.
      We were married a year later, however, and right away it didn’t feel like we were on the same page at all. We didn’t have big fights, but it just felt like everything had shifted. Looking back, everything HAD shifted. We went from living independent, though connected lives to trying to figure out how to navigate life together. I remember crying in the shower every morning for a month thinking that we would end up divorced before the year was up. And I was so disappointed because it had been such a lovely relationship. Thankfully, we spent 8 months during that first year with an incredible marriage therapist who helped us find our groove again. All this time my partner remained the same caring, funny, and reliable man I had dated, and we were still well-suited for each other; marriage was just a different ball game for us. I’m grateful we had the professional help we did with adjusting to it. We’re expecting a baby in the summer and I know it will require an incredible amount of adjustment as well.
      The advice I would give my dating self is: keep your expectations high when it comes to character. My husband isn’t one to buy me flowers and doesn’t always remember to do his share of the chores, but his integrity and who he is as a person consistently exceeds my expectations. And of course, exactly what Katie said: “date a guy who brings more joy and love into your life; not less.” And finally, should you marry this man, it’s ok if it takes awhile for the two of you to find your rhythm. Just be proactive about getting the support you need for all the changes along the way so the relationship can be the best version of itself possible.

      I also really liked this blogger’s take on finding a life partner- Parts I and II:
      https://waitbutwhy.com/2014/02/pick-life-partner.html

  42. a smidge embarrassed to admit that i fell into the category of providing “confusion” in a relationship. not in a flaky way, but i certainly made my emotions and feelings mysterious. i made my ex feel uncertain and he likely thought i didn’t like him. (which i guess, i didn’t… but i didn’t have to be a B about it…) when i met my now husband it never occurred to me to do any of that, i made my feelings and intentions known, loud and clear. i wasn’t trying to be a mystery to be solved, i just wanted to know him and love him and be kind of about it too, and vice versa.

    • Allie says...

      this, this this! such an important lesson that i thank you for sharing x

  43. My dad gave me wonderful advice when I was younger and dating. He said you need to be with someone who “brings something to the table, ” meaning a relationship isn’t one sided.

  44. Has anyone ever played The And? They have questions for first dates, couples, married people, exes…I found out about it from my friend’s podcast, Very Into Therapy, which is two exes talking about how much they like therapy? Sweeter and funnier than it sounds.

    • Isabel says...

      Thank you for sharing, Kelly!!! I love that the And has an interactive component to it. I’ll have to check out your friend’s podcast next! :)

    • Eva says...

      Yes! I want more apps, tools, games like The And. I’d love to see more modern takes on strengthening intimacy in a relationship. Books I’ve been recommended about relationships often feel so dated and a little cheesy, and never quite resonate with me.

      Would love recs!!

  45. Jess says...

    Date sparingly. There’s more to life. I spent my late teens and college years moving from one too-intense relationship to the next. I blame it on knowing that what I ultimately wanted out of dating was to be married and have a family. And I chose great guys who wanted the same. But we were too young to realistically pursue that future, which led to frustration and broken hearts. I wish that I had dated myself in those formative years instead! After the break up of a two year relationship my senior year of college, the thought of casually dating exhausted me. (Dating is time consuming! and it had the high potential to mess with me emotionally.) I determined that for at least the first year of my career, instead of giving up my weekends trying to get to know strangers that I may or may not like, I would spend some time pursuing my own goals and hobbies, and growing other relationships (girlfriends! family!) that I now had more energy and freedom for. I loved it so much that I decided to be a non-dater for a few more years. I diy-ed projects in my home! I began long distance running for the first time and ran a few of half marathons! I read books! I killed it in my career! I hung out with a pack of single friends on weekends and for travel and met girlfriends for long coffee dates on Saturday mornings. I was, of course, secretly willing to break my dating hiatus if I met someone amazing, but no one interested me enough to tempt me. I had a good thing going. Knowing that I loved being alone was amazing for my confidence. Seven years later, on the first day of pursuing a new dream (full time graduate school), I met the most adorable, kind man who, it would turn out, was absolutely worth forfeiting some of that freedom for. But I knew exactly who I was and exactly what I wanted, so I was able to recognize it when I saw it. No amount of dating in the meantime would have gotten me to him anymore quickly. And I loved spending my twenties dating me.

    • Sam says...

      “No amount of dating in the meantime would have gotten me to him anymore quickly. And I loved spending my twenties dating me.”

      THIS…is the true love story I feel every human must create for themselves before trying to write one with someone else. You will be a better person and partner for having loved yourself unconditionally first. As a married woman I know this truth more than ever.

  46. Suzanne says...

    Following my divorce and before I found love with the person I was actually meant to be with, I went through a period of self-doubt and uncertainty, longing to rediscover my own beauty and light. Around this time, two formative gifts reset my heart. The first was the poem, Love After Love by Derek Walcott, (also read beautifully here: https://www.npr.org/2017/03/19/520708160/a-reading-of-derek-walcotts-love-after-love):

    The time will come
    when, with elation
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

    and say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

    The second formative gift was a friend’s insistence that we celebrate my first birthday post-divorce with a week in Paris. Not only did this beautiful city open my heart again but so did the French man that I met in a cafe that week. The two-year love affair that ensued, replete with midnight rides along the Seine on the back of his motorcycle, sometimes in a dress, allowed me to reclaim my confidence, strength, beauty, and free spirit in order to fall in love with myself again – and, ultimately, to be prepared to recognize the real fairy tale that was around the corner and is now my life.

    For those of you who are single and hoping to find the right person for you, first learn to really love who you are and your heart will open beautifully, with each crack allowing for more light.

    • Lara says...

      This is amazing, thank you!

    • Rebecca says...

      Thank you so much for sharing that poem. I am going through a difficult time in my relationship, and it reminded me to be kind to myself.

    • Hope says...

      crying in my office! Thank you for sharing.

    • Anita says...

      Beautiful poem, thanks for sharing.

    • J says...

      Thank you so so much for this! I needed it!

  47. Tricia says...

    Wow, I was amazed to read to the end of the post and see my comment about my grandmother’s words at my grandfather’s funeral (“he was never mean”). Shortly after I wrote that, my grandmother also passed away. In fact, my grandfather’s funeral was the last time I saw her. It’s touching to me that her observation has resonated with so many people here. “He was never mean” will always stick with me as the measure of a life well-lived.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, tricia, thank you so much for commenting, then and now. sending so much love to you. your grandparents sounded like incredible people.

    • Tricia says...

      Thank you, Joanna! They really were incredible. And they were Brooklyn natives, you’ll be happy to know (Greenpoint). :) Eventually, they moved to Long Island and then to various other places, but their old-school Brooklyn accents never left them and were really something. I appreciate your reply (and your blog) so much.

    • Hannah says...

      I shed a tear at this comment. Sometimes my boyfriend and I ask each other how we would describe each other in 3 words. I don’t always choose the same 3, but ‘kind’ is always number 1.

      What a great example your grandparents have given you.

    • Tricia says...

      Hannah, that’s lovely; thanks for sharing this. <3

  48. Lisa says...

    I am a forever single
    29 year old who is currently dating a man I think could be “the one” and it’s terrifying. He is the first man to challenge me mentally, while still being attractive physically (I’m used to getting either or) and we share dreams for the future. He is also funny, kind and attentive. And I am so so so scared. I wish I could fast forward 6 months or so and just skip these insecure first months!! It’s a temporary long distance thing due to his current work situation and not seeing him often enough makes me doubt. Then we talk on the phone and I get butterflies and can’t stop smiling. Oh all these feelings!

  49. kathy says...

    my best friend told me that on a first date, she makes sure that she lets the guy know who she is: family is number one for her, she loves her career, and she wants to get married and have kids. we were in our 20s at the time, and it was such a revelation for me. she was just like, i think it’s your job to put yourself out there and let them know who you are. then, you can both better figure out if this is right. she’s awesome and has a fantastic husband, btw.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, kathy!!!

  50. Allie says...

    I love this! Thank you. I started dating again this year for the first time in 10 years after getting divorced from my college boyfriend. I was 29, single and so overwhelmed by dating apps, what to wear, what to talk about, etc. The best dating advice I found right here on COJ: “If they like you, they like you. If they don’t, they don’t.” I found it so liberating and my friends constantly reminded me of it whenever I was feeling insecure or unsure of myself. I’m 30, I like myself, I’ve survived some stuff…take it or leave it!

    • Hope says...

      Allie, I’m in this boat, too! I got divorced at 29 (now 31) and I was totally out to sea. Learning to trust my instincts and let it go when it doesn’t work out has brought me a lot of peace.

    • Allie says...

      I wish we could have gotten coffee together Hope! I remember scouring the blogosphere for columns about divorce in your 20s and finding almost nothing. So happy to hear you’ve found peace :)

  51. zainab says...

    that is precious!

  52. Christine says...

    “He was never mean” just made me tear up and is how we should all aspire to be in a relationship.

    Dating is hard and tiring, but I don’t think it should ever stop, even after you get married. My husband and I are trying to make an effort to continue talking and learning as much about each other now as we did when we first started dating.

  53. Meg says...

    I loved Amy’s insight on knowing “the one”. My mother once desribed it like light. For some people it’s like a light switch. Boom, light! Boom, you know! And for others, maybe it’s more like a sunrise. Indistinguishable at first. Light coming so gradual that you almost don’t even notice until all the sudden, and sometimes seemingly unexpected, you find yourself in the full bright sun. <3 I always thought that was a beautiful and patient way to think of love and "knowing". The great love in my life was a sunrise.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh my gosh, I love that so much, Meg. I really believe in the concept of falling in love — you aren’t immediately IN love, you FALL in love. It takes time, getting to know one another, finding that deep connection. xoxoxo

    • Lynn says...

      This is so beautiful

  54. Rebecca says...

    Re “knowing”. My now husband and I met at university in a year when I was being a good friend, a good employee, a good society committee member, a society president and a student determined to get a first class degree. I was exhausted, and my phone never stopped buzzing or ringing. He never, ever complained once about being the last person to see me. Once I turned up at his flat and started to cry because I was so tired, and feeling beleaguered by the constant demands for support and time and focus. He took my phone from me, and took out the battery. “There,” he said, quite simply. “Tonight you don’t have to answer any questions, or be a president or be a good friend or be a good student. Tonight all you have to do is be.”

    The fact that existing was his only requirement still moves me deeply. Sometimes I think people see demanding lovers as being somehow romantic because they want so much from you. My theory is that love is about accepting the other person as they are when they just… are.

    • Irene says...

      Love love love this ! He sounds like an incredible person :)

  55. Irene says...

    Just adding to the fuss over “He was never mean” — it made me tear up immediately. I cried for both gratitude, as I live with an amazing person who is, and I truly believe it, the best person on this planet, and for sadness, as I imagined myself in that grandmother’s place, losing that kind of person after a lifetime with them. Such a powerful comment. Thanks CoJ for these little treasures everyday.

  56. maddie says...

    In the course of a day I can go from adoring every facet of single life to sobbing about never getting to experience true love. It’s a real mess.

    • L says...

      Same here

  57. Anna says...

    At 23, in a new city very far from my friends, I sometimes feel a little bit like I left behind my chance at romantic connection when I moved. But reading these comments reminds me that everyone feels this way at one point or another– and that I have plenty of time.

    • YOU ARE SO YOUNG. I am only 29 but I just want to reiterate: YOU ARE SO YOUNG. You have still have so, so, so many chances. :)

  58. Meli says...

    After 2 years together, an ex and I tried long distance (very long: NYC&Dakar). Months into it, I went to a concert and ended up befriending a +70 year old woman who was dancing as wildly as I. We chatted and immediately connected. Two white women who’d spent several years living (and loving) in West Africa though her story far more juicy. (wife of the US Ambassador wooed by a political dissident at the time of Guinea’s independence). Over a coffee the next day, her very simple counsel on getting through the distance: If you can’t fuck, you fight. Well, ain’t that the truth.

    • I spit out my coffee. Amazing!

    • Dalia says...

      So true!!!!

  59. Mikela says...

    I love going on long walks to get to know people; instinctively all my senses become more acute and I am truly listening to who the other person is. Two years ago, I was set up on a second date with a friend of a friend that I had met at a party and I decided to go for an hour-long hike to get to know each other better followed by brunch. In the first few minutes, my bubbly personality took over probing him with questions about his values, family, interests, hobbies, work, etc (I genuinely get really excited when meeting new people). I could see he was starting to clam up with my interrogation so I decided it would be wiser to take a breather and let him ask questions that he felt more comfortable with. After 5 minutes of walking in silence, for someone who is known to be quite the chatterbox, our walk in nature started to become a test of my strength and endurance to remain silent. Much to my surprise, we ended up shuffling awkwardly next to one another for 75 minutes in silence all around the mountain and back to the parking lot where I had left my purse in his car. [Brunch was off the table at this point.] He ended up driving me back and before I exited his car he uttered his first words “I’m so sorry” before letting a few tears stream down his face… I felt so confused after this encounter that I swore off dating for a long time before coincidentally meeting my now current boyfriend. I guess some things you just can’t plan, and sometimes the worst dates make the “long dating ride” worthwhile!

  60. Nancey says...

    The ‘he’s never been mean’ comment made me think of my BF of 5 years, kind to the core. He’s on business in Toronto right now, I’m in MA, I texted him a question and he said he would look into it and I said no rush sweetie, I know you are in a conference, but he immediately texted me back the answer and I said ‘you didn’t have to rush!’ and his response was ‘I just hate so much to think I’ve disappointed you’. Which truly is his mantra with everything, if I say I’m overwhelmed with grocery shopping, my Daughter, the house is a mess, bills, etc.. That night he’s at my door with groceries, tells me to go watch a show I love and he does the dishes and brings me wine. It’s unreal to find such kindness every day, I never knew I deserved it but now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Claudia says...

      Oh your story is absolutely sweet, Nancey! There’s hope to finding good men!

  61. Jenny says...

    I really enjoyed these. Particularly the one about dating someone kind. It reminded me of a quote that really resonated with me from the movie About Time: “I’d only give one piece of advice to anyone marrying. We’re all quite similar in the end. We all get old and tell the same tales too many times. But try and marry someone kind.” I admittedly had pretty terrible taste in men in my early 20’s. I was drawn to the destructive energy of “bad boys” made excuses and allowances for things that were completely out of line with what I truly wanted in a partner. I realized I was attracted to them, but didn’t actually respect them or even like them as humans. And there was certainly no way I wanted to grow old with any of them! My grandpa was intelligent, curious, patient, and kind. Those were the qualities I wanted in a partner. It took a lot of soul searching, some maturing, and a little bit of re-training myself, but I’ve now been with a man for a year that I think my grandpa would have really liked. :)

    • Renee says...

      About Time is one of my favorite movies :)

  62. Lizzie says...

    Re: Emmy’s comment! The man I was involved with right before I met my fiancée was SO CONFUSING. It was always hot and cold, he would stand me up, make me wait for him, texts were shrouded in mystery. The contrast between my current guy and the previous were so stark. I always thought that relationships had to be full of drama, but it’s actually the opposite.
    In true dramatic fashion, after my fiancée and I became exclusive the other guy professed his love for me! I didn’t fall for it.

    • Alice says...

      This is me too!! I got out of a relationship like the one you had with your ex in the spring. I met a wonderful, wonderful man in September, and as soon as word got out, the awful ex reappeared-
      thank GOD he was leaving London for San Francisco (sorry SF, watch out for him…) and I didn’t have to deal with that BS for long.
      And I’m already happier with the new chap than I EVER was with the old one. I’m so glad that you found your fiance :)

  63. Caroline says...

    I loved Tricia’s comment about her kind grandfather. It made me realize I can say the same thing about my husband. He is a “nice guy” to his core, and this gives me such a feeling of safety within our marriage.

  64. Love these!

    My favorite dating advice ever came from my mom: “Don’t date a project.”

    • Nancey says...

      my Mom would say that! She also has said ‘A man can never be tall enough’ and be wary of men who dislike sports’. That’s some weird advice right there.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha i love older women’s dating advice. my grandmother always said, “make sure he likes eating fish!” i think because she likes fish so much :)

    • Suzanne says...

      What happens if you realize that you have married “a project”? Especially when you were dating and he appeared to have his stuff together? Now in marriage – and with big things happening, his ability to cope is showing his (more) true self…

    • Nancey – as someone who’s 6 feet, 2, the tall advice is classic. My mom gave the opposite advice, of course, since my three tall sisters and I had an inclination to prioritize height above all else. (“It takes no brains or talent to be tall!”)

      Suzanne – I think the idea of the advice is your goal shouldn’t be “I’m going to fix/change/save this person” –like, that challenge shouldn’t be the draw attracting you to him. I think the truth is, no one is a “completed work” and everyone is in progress, and tough times can strain even the best of couples. Thinking of you guys as you work through it!

  65. Celeste says...

    “He was never mean.”

    Oh, man. That one got me right in the gut. That about sums it up.

    Thanks Jo for creating this place, and thank you everyone for being a great community of readers! I love meeting you here each day.

  66. On my first date with my fiance, we found our comfort chatting once we were in a canoe, not looking at each other. I was too concerned with not steering us into tall grasses that I was a more natural version of myself. And I think he felt the same way.
    And 3 cheers to the comment above from Molly. Love me the way I am because who am I today, right now, is good enough.

  67. Zoe says...

    Thank goodness for your readers. What smart, lovely women they are….and so eloquent and articulate! It’s kind of amazing the collection of people CoJ counts its own.

  68. Sara says...

    This is so great. My boyfriend of six years broke up with me in September — on my first day of law school! — because he’d been sleeping with a colleague for a month. I miss being in a relationship so much, but I don’t want to fall back into unhealthy patterns of codependence or date someone just because I’m lonely. That being said, I’ve got a promising second date on Thursday! I’ll try and track down a pack of cards. :)

    • C says...

      Oh dang, Sara! What a crummy thing to have happen. Surround yourself with other types of love, including self-love. If you can, spend a little money on yourself (activities /trips /shopping /beauty products /fresh flowers /wine /whatever does the trick in your budget). Read a novel and get lost with the characters. If it’s a good book, it can make you feel less lonely (I read it somewhere, NY Times or some such psychotherapy bunk). Wish I could meet up with you for a cocktail and a chat. Good luck in law school and with your second date. You will do great!

    • Jordan says...

      Hi Sarah! I’m so sorry to hear that happened. My ex fiance and I broke up last year after I found out he was cheating on me. We had been together 6 years too. Hang in there! This quote has helped me in times when I felt overwhelmingly sad and lonely- I hope it helps you too. “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.”- Christine Caine. Crossing my fingers for your date to go well!

    • Alex says...

      Sara, this will be one of the best and most defining events of your life. I had a similar thing happen shortly after I started med school. Nothing that I love about my life now would have happened if that relationship had continued. You will be meeting new people, learning amazing things every day and forming new support networks. Your long-term dreams are about to become a medium-term reality! I was so looking forward to dating as an adult for the first time, but I drunkenly rebounded a couple of months later with a kind, adventurous, unexpected, not-my-type guy I had met in class on the first day… and then married him. Whatever path you’re on now: you got this.

    • Sara says...

      Thank you so much! The CoJ comment section restores my faith in the Internet. <3

  69. Emily says...

    I love so many of these! My first date with my boyfriend progressed from a nighttime visit to the Met (side-by-side talking!) to a cafe for dessert, to a romantic walk and make-out in the pouring rain by the East River. It was very romantic and as one commenter said, I was not confused at all! What Amy said also resonates with me. I feel a really high level of certainty that my boyfriend is the one for me, but there of course are days when I feel annoyed or sad or disconnected and the feeling lessens. then it comes back! I agree our cultural romantic ideals are too simplistic; many have a grain of, but not the whole, truth.

  70. Sandra says...

    “I read a great quote once that summed up dating for me: ‘If he or she likes you, you will know. If he or she doesn’t, you will be ‘confused’.’

    Argh…why didn’t I see this back when I was dating? (And I got married at 39, so there was a lot of dating in my life). This is SO true. Don’t get me wrong, you might be a little confused here and there, especially in the beginning. But if you feel “confused” most of the time for weeks or months it’s definitely not a good fit. With my now-husband I may have been confused now and then about whether we were right for each other long-term, but I was rarely on the fence about how he felt about me–it was pretty clear from the beginning that he liked me, unlike other guys who were just more wishy-washy about it all.

    • aga says...

      So true!!!

  71. Thivia says...

    That’s funny! I just went on a first date and we were sitting sitting face-to-face but I asked him to sit next to me because I prefer that! And on subsequent dates, we always sat next to each other at the bar. It just feels more natural to me for whatever reason…face-to-face is a little bit too intense and not as sexy…I think

  72. Maggie says...

    After our first date, my now-husband didn’t call me for a couple days then texted only with small talk. Finally in frustration, I replied, “I don’t need another text friend. Call me if you’d like to go out again.” He called; we went out again. So true about being upfront and knowing versus confused.

  73. I would also say that it’s ok to be unsure at first. I had some first dates where I was instantly head-over-heels into the guy — and it never worked out with those guys. With my now-husband, I was more like, hmmm, he’s interesting, not 100% sure he’s the one, but I think I’ll see where this goes. I think the “fireworks” feeling is HIGHLY overrated and can even be detrimental to real love. I wish more people knew that.

    (Also, love the still you chose, one of my favorite movies ever, even though they do do the fireworks thing :)

  74. Ali says...

    I’m a 23-year old single girl in NYC, which needless to say is a scary and confusing time in my life (especially with dating), and this article is perfect. So many little nuggets of knowledge that I will definitely carry with me.

    • oh, hello me from 10 years ago :) my only advice is live in the moment. don’t worry about the future for at least a few years (even if your friends from home all seem to be getting married). to be 23 in NYC is the greatest freedom you’ll ever have.

      love,
      an old married lady with a baby on the way, you’ll figure it out eventually ;) (but you will probably have to move out of NYC to do it…)

    • Ali says...

      “to be 23 in NYC is the greatest freedom you’ll ever have”

      going to print that and hang it on my wall. thanks for the advice :)

    • Amen, Rachel! 37 years old, 2 out of NYC, and although I spent amazing 12 years in the city, moving out made me a more mature woman.

      Treasure every moment, Ali! This is one of the best times of your life!

  75. Kari says...

    I absolutely second Amy’s comment about “the one.” I never had a light bulb moment when I magically realized my now husband was the one for me. It just evolved organically. And even now, as newlyweds, I often feel like he is my soulmate and I can’t imagine life without him. But I also have moments of doubt or questioning whether we’re really that compatible, and that maybe I chose wrong. I’m comforted by so many people – writers, friends, therapists – who remind us that we’ll never find the perfect soulmate because none of us are perfect. We’re just two imperfect people coming together and trying our best. It helps to relieve the pressure of finding “the one.”

    • molly says...

      I love your comment Kari! #same

    • Love this too!!

    • Eve says...

      I totally feel this too- but I sometimes thing it says less about a relationship and more about each person. What I mean is that if you happen to be more of an anxious individual, you’re more likely to never feel 100% certain at all times, because that’s your nature, and less because of the relationship. If you’re more laid back (like my husband), he never has a moment of doubt! Given that he is incredibly loving and kind and a great life partner, I chalk those moments of doubt up to my anxiety and let it go. :)

    • Z says...

      Haha yes #same. I mean sometimes you just think what am I doing here I just want him to leave me alone and then other times I think wow I can’t believe how much I love my partner after 8 years. Everything goes up and down and I think realizing that downs are normal is a good thing.

  76. Alexandra says...

    My absolute favorite quote that I remind myself of when I get too hung up on a guy who isn’t worth my attention (please forgive my language): “Dick is abundant and of low value.”

    It comes from this article and is my mantra:
    https://medium.com/matter/the-dickonomics-of-tinder-b14956c0c2c7

    • Abby says...

      This is AMAZING.

    • Erin says...

      I love the fire and independence, but am not a fan of what this would mean if the gender was reversed. Women don’t want to be reduced to the sum of their parts and nor do men deserve the same.

    • Katie Larissa says...

      No, no, no. As a mama of 2 boys, I absolutely repudiate this statement. It is not helpful; it is not mature; it is not kind. If this is the overall value we assign to our men, we do them a great disservice, but we do ourselves a greater disservice.
      I would be so offended and outraged if I saw this quote in a man’s room, (but with p*ssy in place of d*ck,) And I think you probably would too, Alexandra. Think about the far-reaching consequences of the words you take as your “mantra” and know that it is possible to be self-sufficient and brave without belittling the opposite sex.

    • I think this is so funny in the context of the piece.

      I see a lot of people responding to the quote out of context, when the general gist is that male affection and sexual interest are out there, so worry less about cultivating it and more about being yourself. Alexandra was nice enough to take the time to link the source!

    • Nancey says...

      It’s all in the sentence ‘isn’t worth my attention’ in other words, there’s more than the sum of their parts, the parts themselves are nothing really without the heart and soul of the person. I get it, and I took it like it was meant. Thank you Alexandra. You can find sex anywhere, any time, that’s the abundant part, the heart, and the love, that’s harder to find, that’s the stuff that counts.

  77. In regards to “The One” I’ve always loved this exchange from Flight of the Conchords:

    Jemaine: It’s just that I think she might be the one.
    Bret: Sally?
    Jemaine: Yeah.
    Bret: What makes you think that?
    Jemaine: You just know. When it happens to you, you’ll know.
    Bret: You said Michelle was the one.
    Jemaine: Yeah, she’s the one.
    Bret: You said Claire was the one.
    Jemaine: Yeah, she’s another one.
    Bret: So you get more than one one?
    Jemaine: Some people are lucky. I’ve had a few ones.
    Bret: So how many ones can you have?
    Jemaine: Five.
    Bret: How many have you had?
    Jemaine: Three. How many have you had?
    Bret: Just one. Just one.

    I don’t believe in “The One.” I’ve had two “The Ones” and I like to think if (God forbid!) something happened to my husband that there could be a third “The One” for me as well. Big love is very real, but I think it’s so sad to think we have just one perfect soul mate out there and we have to hope we’re lucky enough to find them. It puts too much pressure on relationships, and makes people feel like failures when they don’t find their one true love by the time they’re 30.

    • Isabel says...

      YES! First of all, Bret and Jemaine are the business! I miss their show!

      I also agree with the idea that you can have more than one soulmate. Not not only can they come in different forms (I call some of my best friends my “soul twins”), they can also come into and move out of your life at different junctures. It makes sense; we’re all constantly growing and evolving, often at different rates, so maybe the person who 100% feels like your “one” right now won’t be that person for you forever. It’s possible they’re prefect for who you are and what you need at this point in time, but maybe someone else will be that perfect match for you at a different stage of your life. We put so much emphasis on the idea that you fall in “real” love only once and that’s it, but I just don’t think that’s the case for everyone. I had my first (and so far only) “one” in my early 20s. I’m currently single, comin’ up on 30, and I have to remind myself to stay hopeful that the world has at least another “one” out there for me. Thank you for the reassurance!

    • YES! Reminds me of this poem, which means so much to me.

      “when you meet that person. a person. one of your soulmates. let the connection. relationship be what it is. it may be five mins. five hours. five days. five months. five years. a lifetime. let it manifest itself, the way it is meant to. it has an organic destiny. this way if it stays or if it leaves, you will be softer from having been loved this authentically. souls come into, return, open, and sweep through your life for a myriad of reasons, let them be who and what they are meant.”
      ― Nayyirah Waheed

  78. Amanda says...

    Early in my career I worked with two women who had both married early, quickly gotten divorced and then later married incredible men who I also got the opportunity to know well. The three of us traveled together often for work and they were always mentoring me, both personally and professionally, but the one thing they told me that really stuck was marry a happy man. Not one that you make happy or one that can be happy…marry a man this IS happy. It was one of the first things I noticed about my husband when we met and 4 years into marriage, it’s definitely advice that I believe in strongly.

    • Wynne says...

      This is great advice. Couldn’t agree more. Deep, troubled types can be alluring, but not so much for the long haul – especially since often you want to help them, but they don’t want to help themselves.

    • Sara says...

      Oh my goodness, I love this so much.
      I did marry a happy man after years of dating unhappy/complicated ones and it’s made a HUGE difference in my life and in the success of our sixteen year marriage!

    • patricia blaettler says...

      BEST ADVICE! So simple, so smart.

    • Liz says...

      Wholeheartedly second this. I am a very happy person who married a man that is unhappy. It is too hard too much of the time. Then I wonder, if we all marry the happy men, what happens to the unhappy men? I guess some people are born to be caretakers and others have to learn, possibly at their own expense.

  79. Ellie says...

    That last comment made me cry. Such a lovely and sweet reminder. I’d love an interview series (or just one) of CoJ editors or readers interviewing their grandmas. I think it provides amazing perspective, and while I’m shy around people who are older, I’m always curious about their life experiences and how they’ve seen the world.

    • Roberta Williams says...

      Love this! I interviewed my grandma about her childhood, her thoughts on birth control, her career path as a surgical nurse, and her personal views about motherhood (she has 7 children). It was one of my most cherished experiences with her, sharing scones and drinking mint tea at her kitchen table while I learned about her experiences navigating a family and career in the ’50s.

  80. Faith says...

    This is a beautiful collection of quotes and advice. Thank you!

  81. Heather says...

    That note about men being more comfortable talking side by side – interesting!!! I had a great third date with a guy I met online recently where ordered pizza and watched Stranger Things and sort of chatted throughout. It was awesome. Then for our fourth date, we went to a fancy dinner, and the conversation wasn’t quite as good when we were facing each other directly.

    BUT turns out he is actually married, so back to the drawing board. #notcool

    • Meredith Leigh says...

      UGH—just sending you dating sympathy. I had several promising dates with a guy who then revealed (despite having identified as “childless”) that his ex-girlfriend had had his baby 3 weeks ago, WHILE we were dating. It’s rough out there!

    • Amy says...

      Ugh, I’ve been there, unfortunately! It’s the worst. I now make sure to straight-up ask, “you’re not secretly married are you?” and surprisingly I’ve gotten honest answers. Men are a lot more open about their cheating than I would have thought.

    • Rachel says...

      Haha what a twist ending!

      I totally agree about conversation flowing more easily when side-by-side. At least at first… I remember in high school just driving around with my boyfriend to talk about deep things while watching the road. Of course there’s a place for eye-contact, but it can feel so intimate and intimidating when you’re in a new relationship, young, insecure, etc.

    • Lisa says...

      Ouch. Couple of years ago I ended up in some parallel universe where all the men who showed interest in me were married. Four men – FOUR!!!!! In a row ended up being married. Only one of them had separated recently but he also had kids although he claimed to be “single with no kids”. I kind of lost faith in men for a while, but realised just as there are good single women out there, there are good single men, I just had a few bad ones. Now I ask them even before the first date (I use tinder) if they are married and so far I have had one admit it (he didn’t get a date) and all the others have actually been single.

    • So when we want my dog to make friends with a new dog, we humans walk with them in the same direction, side by side. But that guy sounds more like a side-eye kinda guy.

  82. selby says...

    i am just starting to date again and the timing of this couldn’t be better.
    one thing i did last friday that he seemed to like: he picked a busy sushi restaurant for our first date. i heard there’s always a long wait, so i brought a deck of playing cards to give us something to do. after dinner we didn’t want to leave so i taught him how to play poker. on our second date he asked me if i brought them and i when i said yes he was excited.

    • Sarah says...

      That’s super cute!

  83. Lauren says...

    Appreciate this today! Went through a tough breakup this summer and am struggling to decide if I want to put myself out there again. And now we’re approaching the time of year with holidays, it just feels maybe not quite right. I don’t know. How do you know when you’re ready to try meeting/dating again?

    • Claire says...

      Lauren, I am so sorry about your break-up! I also had a terrible one earlier this year that made me wonder if I really had it in me to date again, period. As the months have passed by, though, there have been little signs that maybe I could date again without it being torture – thinking a guy was cute at the bar, flirting with someone new without crying afterward (real life) – and now, I am on the dating scene again! I may have more trepidation than before, and I may still wonder late at night if I will ever be able to repeat how I felt about my ex – but mostly, I have learned to let myself have a drink with someone without it being the end of the world. Don’t let anyone rush you – you will know when the time is right. Best of luck to you!

    • E says...

      I’m sorry about your break up, it can be so hard! I went through a breakup during the holidays, and when I was talking to my sister about being all alone during such a festive season and how sad that would be, she told me I had it all wrong. She pointed out all the people who wanted to get together, so I would have as many distractions as I wanted, but it was also a reminder of all that love that was already in my life with friends and family. It helped shift my thinking and made something I was dreading into something not so bad. You’ll know when you are ready, although I tend to think that if you are seriously thinking about it, it is time. One drink can’t hurt and if you change your mind about being ready then you don’t have to go out on a second date.

  84. kockey says...

    My divorced older sister told me once when I was grasping to make a relationship work, “You are dating to be choosing, not to be chosen!”

    • Heather says...

      yes!! love that!

  85. Katie says...

    oh, Allison’s comment almost made me cry. Its a beautiful thing for someone to appreciate your strengths, but still allow you to be vulnerable around them.

  86. kbob says...

    I read a sentence by Stephen Chbosky years ago that changed my life: “You attract the kind of love you think you deserve.” I realized that I deserved to be with someone who was emotionally available and who loved me, and about a year later I met my now husband. Self-confidence is the trick!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love that, kbob!