How to date with confidence

Even after the most acrimonious, heartbreaking end of a relationship most people want to find love again. But no matter your age, sex, sexual orientation, culture or where you live, finding the right person can be challenging.


The popularity of online dating/dating apps has brought a new dimension to the experience of meeting someone new. Recent research shows that online dating providers were expected to have reached a whopping 441 million active users worldwide, with 19.1% of the UK population using online dating services by the end of 2023.

Dating is not all about swiping left or right, but people often get fixated on this as the only method to meet someone. I advise clients who ask me for dating and relationship advice to use multiple strategies. Go out and meet people, as making connections in real-life situations does still work and you have a good time in the process: 

  • Go to the right places - if you want to meet men, for example,  going to places and joining clubs that have a very heavy female bias is unlikely to get results. 

  • What kind of person do you want to meet? What do you enjoy doing? What would you like to have in common with a potential partner?

  • Talk to people. Sitting in a cafe with headphones on and your nose in your phone will not encourage anyone to strike up a conversation with you.

  • Go out and do things because you want to light yourself up and flourish, to have fun or learn something new, and not with the purpose of meeting ‘the one’. People living their lives and enjoying themselves are incredibly attractive. If you have a full and happy life it will not matter so much if you are single for a little while, and then when you do connect with the right person, they will add to your life in a positive way.

Let’s get into the three pieces of the jigsaw to consider when dating, starting with the one we focus on least, but is the most important:

1. You

“Do I need to be ‘healed’ before entering into dating?” is something I frequently get asked. No, because ‘healing’ is part of growth and self-awareness, which continues throughout our lives and a lot of our personal growth is actually done while in relationships. 
I would say, however, that the raw emotion following a breakup should have diminished, as this can affect our judgement.

Working on ourselves after a breakup to understand what went wrong and how we can move into future relationships in better shape is a good idea. Working on our self-belief and self-worth is valuable preparation, as looking for someone to ‘fill’ an emotional gap is not healthy, because if they disappear, we are left with the emotional gap again. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help before commencing dating, particularly if you have come out of a toxic or abusive relationship.

Understanding your true needs, and not abandoning them during the dating process is crucial. Needs are different to wants, usually align with our values and are non-negotiables. It may be things like non-smoker; wanting children; no previous infidelity. It’s then about trusting yourself to not pursue that person if one of these shows up, no matter what other qualities they have.

If you are not being authentic it is difficult to make a genuine connection. Changing yourself to ‘fit’ with someone else or because you’re frightened of them walking away is never a good idea. Dating is all about seeing whether you get on with someone by getting to know them slowly. If they don’t want to continue dating you, it is not a reflection on you and your value but simply means that you are not compatible. Sifting people out is vital, so you find your person and don’t waste time on people who will not ultimately make you happy.

How does being around this person make you feel? Are you anxious, worried about making requests, feel disrespected or not a priority? This is so crucial because in practical terms your date could be ticking boxes, but if you don’t like the way you feel around them, then be cautious. If something doesn’t feel right, dig a little deeper and trust your gut.

“Do I like them”? This is the most important question you should ask yourself during dating. We cannot control what anybody else thinks of us, so worrying about what they think of you puts all the focus on them when you should actually focus on whether they are what you need and want in your life.

2. Meeting your date

Having a phone or video call before meeting is a good idea - especially if you are very nervous or time-poor. This breaks the ice and you can see quickly if you want to pursue the connection and meet in person.

Arranging to meet a potential date should be done sooner rather than later, as you cannot explore a connection with someone online or via text. You can see body language and all the other non-verbal cues that are not apparent on an app or in a text. It may feel daunting, but honestly, you don’t want to spend a lot of time messaging someone who you then meet and they do not live up to expectations, you have no chemistry with them, or they look nothing like their profile pictures!

First dates are simply to find out “Would I like a second date?” They are not about writing a whole future and life story with the person sitting in front of you. I see clients all the time who get hung up on the ‘outcome’ and are too focused on the potential of someone, or where this might lead in future. What we really want to be is ‘present’. Look at what is in front of you here and now, not their potential.

Keep the first date short and public so if it is a disaster you are not stuck with this person. Coffee dates are fine, as they can be less pressurising than getting dressed up for a night out. If your date suggests an activity that pushes you out of your comfort zone on a first date, then say so - remember it's all about being authentic, right from the start.  

Take it one date at a time - after each encounter think to yourself, would you like another date - yes or no? If ‘yes’, then see the person again and if ‘no’ then don’t pursue this connection and move on.

Take things slowly. This is not about physical intimacy - do that as you become comfortable and ready. This is about the amount of time you see someone, how frequently you text, how fast you move through the milestones of becoming exclusive/ boyfriend/girlfriend/going on holiday/moving in together etc. The faster the pace, the harder it is to really get to know someone and to spot potential red flags or toxic behaviour. 

3. Your date

Is your date keen to meet in person? If you are struggling to fix a date, and they keep stalling or cancelling, I would be wary. A healthy amount of effort equals interest and both parties should be progressing things.

Consistency is important - both in terms of words and actions aligning and also communication. Does your date say one thing and do another? We tend to say ‘actions speak louder than words’, but in my experience, we should be taking note of whichever of the two is ‘worse’. For example, if they say they want to arrange a date but never do - believe the actions which tell you that they are just not interested in meeting you.  
Is your date consistently communicating with you?

We can get very hung up about texting and using that as a sign of how much someone likes us, but if you have only just connected with someone, is it fair to expect them to be texting all the time when you don’t know each other? If someone is not communicating for days on end then that is different, but how frequently/quickly someone texts should not be your sole indicator of how much they like you.

How someone treats people generally says a lot, and can be a sign of toxicity. Look at your date’s attitude to waiters, bar staff or taxi drivers. If it’s rude, and makes you feel uncomfortable or fearful then this is a red flag.

Healthy relationships start when those first connections are being made. Dating should be fun and allow you to find out about the person in front of you and whether they will enhance your life. Drop me an email if you would like my help to find your next romantic partner.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Cirencester, Gloucester, GL7
Written by Vanessa White, Relationship and Divorce Coach (Master Accreditation)
Cirencester, Gloucester, GL7

Vanessa White is an Accredited Breakup and DIvorce Coach. Vanessa emotionally and practically supports Clients before, during and after their breakup or divorce, however complex. She combines her unique personal experiences with her certification training to give tools and strategies to help Clients recover and create a positive, fulfilling future.

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