My niece recently turned 13; she’s officially a teen. Sure it was momentous occasion for her, but was a cause for concern on my part because of dating. I remember all of my crushes and unrequited loves from my teenage years and to say I needed a bit of guidance back then would be an understatement. Sure, I’m a dating expert now, but teenage Me was absolutely clueless about dating. Luckily, I can give my niece all the advice that I wish I had received back then.
When you’re old enough to date, I hope you take this advice to heart. Here are five things to remember when you have your first dates and breakups.
Five Things to Remember When You Start Dating
Date on your own terms
Chances are that you’ll come across people in your life who will tell you to date a certain way, or with a certain goal in mind. They might say things like “You need to date like this if you want to get married” or “You can only meet people if you do this when you’re dating” and I just want to tell you one thing: They’re wrong. Outside of advice around your general safety (AKA when you’re old enough to drink, don’t drink a drink unless you saw it being made for example) most of the advice you get will be how people think you should date, and not necessarily how you should date. When you’re old enough, you need to decide how you will date and date that way. Only want to date casually? Fine, go for it. Just protect yourself and be safe. What ever way dating works best for you and makes you happy or fulfilled, is the right way to date. In fact, you don’t even have to date. Your dating life is your own, and don’t ever let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
Only date people who enrich your life
Not only will people tell you how you should date, they might also tell you who you should date. My advice, like my advice before that, is the same. They’re wrong, and do not listen to them. You should date the people you want to date, because you want to date them. If you choose to date, make sure that the people you date enrich your life in one way or another. I’m not saying that every person you date needs to fulfill a specific purpose; I’m just saying that you should date people who you enjoy dating. If you want to date someone who isn’t planning for their future, go right ahead, as long as it enriches your life in some way. If you want to date someone who has no plans to ever settle down, that’s fine too, as long as you’re okay with it. Personally, I’d do neither, but that’s because what enriches my life is dating with plans for the future. Just know that how I date, and who I date, has no real impact on how and who you should date.
Don’t let yourself be defined by who you date or don’t date
You are an amazing, smart, funny, creative teenage girl and you will be all of those things when you’re old enough to date. What you will never be is just someone’s girlfriend. Don’t ever, ever, let yourself be defined by who you date. You are your own person, with your own likes and dislikes, wants and needs, and you do not need to adopt the likes, dislikes, wants or needs of the people you date just because you are dating them. Continue to remain the unique, amazing person you are, no matter who you date.
You might get hurt, but don’t let it keep you down
Unless you’re incredibly lucky, chances are that when you start dating you’ll eventually get hurt. It’s happened to me quite a bit, and I wouldn’t be able to count up all the times I’ve been hurt by someone I was dating. There are things you can do to minimize the chances of being hurt, but dating is just like any other part of life. Things happen, people change, and the people you thought you might grow old with can decide suddenly that you aren’t the one for them. Don’t worry too much though, because dating, like life, will go on. Yes, there will be points where it sucks, but there are lots of other fish in the sea. Don’t let heartbreak keep you from finding a new person if you want to. If and when you get hurt, just remember that you still remain who you were when you first started dating: an amazing woman. If you’re hurt, you don’t need someone else to come along and fix it, because you’re already a complete person.
Don’t rush into anything
The most important thing to remember is to never ever rush into anything. You’ve made it this far without dating someone serious, so trust me when I say you don’t need to rush into dating. If you feel even after you’re old enough to date that you still aren’t ready, don’t date. It’s not a race, it’s a marathon. Dating is optional, and when you start dating is also on your terms, unless your parents tell you otherwise. Just because your friends start dating at whatever age their parents allow them does not mean that you need to follow behind them and rush into dating.
Remember, you’re an amazing person and you don’t need to date anyway but the way you want. You don’t need to date anyone you don’t want to. You are not defined by who you date. Though there may be some hurt involved in dating, you do not have to let it keep you down. Don’t rush dating, just take your time, be safe, and have fun, if you choose to date. You can always choose not to date and it will not make you any less of an amazing person.
Good Luck Out There!
For more dating advice from Demetrius Figueroa, check out his website Tao of Indifference.