Overcoming Dating Fears

How To Make Awkward Relationship Conversations Less Awkward: 4 Steps

Relationship Difficulties

After a few months and/or years of dating someone, there will be a point where it feels hard or different from what you expected. So how do you sit down with each other and have the awkward conversation to make sure you’re still on the same page? That you’re still committed to the relationship? These 4 steps should help make it feel less overwhelming and awkward. 

There’s more attention given to the ‘DTR chat’ nowadays. And rightly so. The Determine/Define The Relationship talk is important. It lets you know when you move from getting to know someone, to the ‘official’ relationship stage. (Read I Wasn’t Sure When We Were An ‘Official Couple’)  

A friend once told me he brought up the subject by saying to the person he was seeing ‘So can we update the relationship status on social media then?’. She said yes, so he must have done something right. 

But the conversation I’m referring to in this blog is different. It occurs way after the DTR chat, when you have been going out for months or years, and the ‘initial hype’ has worn off a bit, and you are thinking more long-term and with bigger commitments in mind. 

How do you know if you are still on the same page? 


This talk can seem awkward. Mainly because by this point you have invested a lot, you care deeply for the other person, and the outcome will have a huge impact either way. 

This chat is about deciding if you both do indeed want to commit

However, there is a point where things may not have gone exactly as you hoped or expected. There may be a relationship dynamic you want to address. Or you may just feel like the connection has weakened recently. 

This chat is about deciding if you both do indeed want to commit to staying together. If it’s worth that bigger commitment and keep dating long-term. So where do you start? 

4 Tips

While this can seem daunting, you may be a bit apprehensive or feel awkward, especially if you feel like they seem less invested, it still needs to be done. No matter what the outcome, communication is key.

I always say these 4 tips can help us have this discussion:

#1 Find The Right Space
#2 Expectation Management
#3 Friendship Investment
#4 Mutual Effort 

#1 Find The Right Space

You will be amazed at how many couples try to have a deep and meaningful conversation in the worst space, and at the wrong time. 

They may do it in a coffee shop, which is constantly busy and distracting with people sitting nearby. Or over the phone or video call, which can cut out and is never as good as sitting in front of each other. Or by spontaneously bringing up the conversation, which can feel like an ambush for the other person.  

Find the right physical space, and the right space in your day. 

So don’t do it when one or both of you is going to be tired or stressed. Pick a time that works for both of you. Go somewhere which isn’t filled with distractions and chat face to face. 

#2 Expectation Management  

Many people can have a ‘fairytale’ version of romance in their heads. But real relationships take hard work, are never perfect, and will never live up to the fairytale.

So it may be a case of discussing what your expectations were, and what they should be now. 

Obviously, there are things we can all expect in a relationship. Like not to being hit, being listened to, having mutual respect (Read Quick Guide: Discover What All Good Dating Relationship Have In Common). 

But there are other things that may need a rethink. Is this the person we wanted? Are we the person they wanted? Are our lives heading in the same direction? 

The answer is probably not a pure yes or a pure no. But it will help you get back on the same page again, and deciding together what your next step is. (Read Settling Vs Compromise: Spot the Signs in Your Relationship)  

#3 Friendship Investment

All good romantic relationships are based on a good friendship. 

You should enjoy each other’s company, you should share deeper values, you should be able to trust each other, have fun and relax. 

It may be worth discussing if this aspect had been unintentionally ignored. It’s worth making sure you are setting aside time to do fun things together. 

#4 Mutual Effort

Relationships will only thrive if there is mutual respect, mutual enjoyment, and selflessness on both sides. 

Make sure you are both clear about what should happen next

If only one of you wants to change the situation and make the relationship work going forwards, it won’t work. You need to discuss if you are both prepared to commit a bit more.  You need to make it clear that this will require effort, and not just lip service. 

Asking each other if you think it’s worth it, and how you feel about each other, is awkward but needed to make sure you are both clear about what should happen next. 

Imagine If…

Good communication doesn’t take the fun out of the relationship, it gets us on the same page and lets us navigate the lows and get to the highs quicker, and for longer. 

Instead of drifting, or hoping that things may change, we need to be intentional about where our relationship is heading. Imagine if we followed these tips: #1 Find The Right Space: #2 Expectation Management  #3 Friendship Investment #4 Mutual Effort. (Read The 2 Year Ultimatum: Good Advice Or Dating Disaster?) 

Do you think it is easy to drift in a relationship? Comments welcomed below.  

Originally posted 1/4/2019

How Do I Tell My New Date About My Past?

Early Dating, Relationship Difficulties

It’s so important to make sure honesty is the foundation of our romantic relationships. Lies stop us from building trust and healthy relationships. But what if there’s something from the past you know you need to share and talk about, but saying it straight away can be off-putting. Do you wait? For how long? Is it lying? This is a real issue that needs real wisdom.

Someone recently came up to me after a recent talk I did and was clearly wanting to say something that was troubling him. 

He proceeded to tell me that he had been in a relationship with someone, it had ended very badly, and he was partly to blame. He wanted to know when he should tell his next potential girlfriend about what happened. 

Not A Unique Question

Even though he was the latest person to ask me, he was not the first. 

Obviously, we’ve all done things in our past we regret, but when it comes to exes and breakups, these regrets can be the source of a lot of worry and anxiety in our next relationship. 

Relationship breakdowns are rarely caused by just one person (unless there has been abuse, manipulation and/or infidelity involved). When break-ups happen it can make us less trusting, or realise a trait about ourselves that we dislike, or cause us to carry feelings of anger or even pain.

Whatever the issue, we know that it could be something that the next person we like will need to know about. Maybe so they understand why we act like we do, or because they need to know about something we regret and don’t want to do again, or for another reason. 

I always respond by giving 3 guidelines

Many people ask me what they should do in this situation. Should they say something straight away? Or should they wait until the person they like knows them a bit better so there is some context? Or do they just say nothing and hope it will be okay?  

I always respond by giving 3 guidelines, which will hopefully help them:  

  • Trust Isn’t Instant 
  • Give Headlines Early, Detail To Follow 
  • Why Is It An Issue? 

Trust Isn’t Instant

I think people inherently know that if they want to build a sustainable intimate relationship, then trust and honesty is part of it. Being vulnerable with someone, knowing they will stick around no matter what, only happens when a couple trust each other.

But trust isn’t instant. 

Trust and commitment build over time. As we get to know someone more and more, and they get to know us, commitment grows. Trust also grows. When we rush this process we can think the relationship is stronger than it is, which will lead to problems later on.

The point is, you can’t just say everything about yourself from the start. And naturally, you do want to discuss common interests and things you enjoy and not just dwell on the past.  

If you feel the pressure to reveal something, then you may need to take some pressure off your shoulders. It’s good you’re concerned about dating well and being honest, but trust grows. It’s okay to realise you need to protect yourself too, and not reveal your deepest darkest secrets after the first ‘hello’. (Read I Want To Trust Them, But I’ve Been Hurt Before)

Give Headlines Early, Detail To Follow

Having said that, I’m always struck by the fact that people in this situation feel like it is all or nothing. 

You can mention the issue early on so that it’s been raised, but you’re still allowed to say you don’t want to talk more about it until you’re further on in your relationship. You can give the ‘headlines’ and say you will give more details later on. 

This advice can’t be used as an excuse to avoid the issue later on or justify a half-truth

Now, this advice can’t be used as an excuse to avoid the issue later on or justify a half-truth. Rather, it’s acknowledging the fact that being respectful to the person you like and trying to fostering honesty, while protecting yourself, means that some things need to be talked about in line with the trust and commitment that’s growing. 

Mentioning your ex or the past situation near the start, means you’re showing you want to be honest and bring things up that need to be spoken about.

Now I know sharing a ‘headline’ may not be enough for some people, or it may put some people off, meaning they don’t wait around to build a relationship. This may be hard. But at least you will know if it won’t work early on, rather than after months or years of investing in each other.  (Read The Best Advice For Getting Over A Break-Up)

Why Is It An Issue?

It’s also important to ask ourselves why we think it’s an issue in the first place. Is it something we were hurt by? Are we embarrassed? Do we feel guilty? Are we worried it will happen again? 

The answers to these questions don’t make us bad people

I always say we don’t need to be perfect or ‘sort ourselves out’ before we date. No one is perfect, dating isn’t about finding perfect people, because they don’t exist. But it’s worth thinking about why we are worried. Is it something we can address now? How might it affect a potential relationship? 

The answers to these questions don’t make us bad people, or unworthy of a relationship, but they just may help us think about how we approach romantic relationships moving forward.

Imagine If…

Dating is hard, but it’s meant to be enjoyable. Our baggage and past mistakes can sometimes get in the way of this. 

Imagine if we remembered Trust Isn’t Instant, that we are allowed to Give Headlines Early, Detail To Follow, and we ask Why Is It An Issue? It will help us to foster honesty from the start while protecting ourselves, as well as take some pressure off so we can enjoy the dating experience. (Read 15 Questions for Building Mutually Enjoyable Fulfilling Relationships)

What other guidelines have you heard which may help? Comments welcomed below. 

Originally posted 21/1/2019

5 Tips For Online Dating

Finding A Date

People enter the world of online dating for many reasons. Some think it will be fun, some reluctantly get involved, some do it because their friends do, others have heard positive stories and want to get their own one. Either way, people often enter this world not really knowing how to do it well. So here are 5 tips that will help you. 

I have written a few times about online dating. Especially about how it isn’t dating, but an introduction. It’s a chance to meet people, just like a blind date or meeting someone at a party is, which may then lead to dating and forming a relationship. (Read ) 

But how do you make good online introductions? 

How do we write a profile and approach online dating in a way that protects us? As well as giving us the best chance of finding someone we can form a great relationship with? 

5 Tips

While I have never used online dating, doing the work I do means I come across lots of research, positive and negative stories, and resources that can help guide people. As a result, I often give these 5 tips: 

  • Honesty Saves Time
  • Use Unspecific Words
  • Keep It Positive
  • It Takes Time 
  • Know What You Want 

Honesty Saves Time

Writing a profile is hard. Knowing what to put in and what to say in a message to someone wouldn’t come naturally to most people. 

But the starting point needs to be honesty. Exaggerating our skill set, or what we like to do, or lying about our features (most men online lie about their height) is a bad start.

It will mean that we end up getting introduced, and even dating people who we aren’t suited with. Which in turn will just result in wasted time and disappointment. By all means, put your best foot forward, but do it honestly. 

Use Unspecific Words

The next question would then be: so how do you put your best foot forward?

It’s really important to use unspecific words. The reason for this is because, sadly, we can easily make superficial quick judgments when reading profiles. So if we say ‘I love football’, or ‘I love cruises’, people can discount us if they don’t like those things. 

In order to keep our profile more approachable

Therefore, it’s better to try and keep it more general, in order to keep our profile more approachable. E.g. ‘I like sports’, or  ‘I like to travel’. These statements are still true, but they’re open enough to allow more connection points. Because someone may not like football, but they might enjoy other sports that you like, for example.   

Keep It Positive

The time that you take to say something is important (profiles with about 100 words get the most interactions), but the way you say it is even more important. 

Profiles with positive language get the most traction. Talking about your hopes for the future, what you enjoy doing and what makes you feel alive are the best things to talk about. 

Avoid giving demands, like ‘Must love…’ or ‘Must hate…’. Talking about what you hope the relationship will look like is fine, but being positive and talking about what fulfils you is vital. 

It Takes Time

All of this takes time, and the search is often for an indefinite time period which can be very demoralising at points. But sadly, there is no way to change that. 

Online dating isn’t like online shopping. You can’t just specify what you want and have it delivered the next day. Online dating involves time, emotional investment, meeting people and giving energy to the search. 

If we do approach online dating half-heartedly, or without giving it enough time, then we will be disappointed.  Which is why the next and final tip is so important. 

Know What You Want

Just saying yes to everyone is not a good idea. There are people in our work, at our church, in our social circles that we do not get on with. Or people who we like as a friend but would never date. The same principle applies online. 

We need to think about the type of person we want to get to know

We will not get on romantically with everyone. That’s why we need to think about the type of person we want to get to know.  The type of person we want to date, so we know who to say yes to and who to say no to. (Read ) 

Imagine If… 

There’s no perfect solution to online dating or finding someone, but if we or people we know are using online dating, we can at least prepare well for it. 

Imagine if we remembered: Honesty Saves Time, Use Unspecific Words, Keep It Positive, It Takes Time, Know What You Want. (Read I’m Single And Hate Dating, What Can I Do?)

What other good advice have you heard? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 14/1/2019

How To Stop Letting Jealousy Rule The Relationship

Marriage, Relationship Difficulties

Jealousy is a feeling that can ruin any romantic relationship. In a world where we’re being bombarded with pictures and images of ‘perfect’ people, and where we’re constantly meeting (and comparing) ourselves to new people, we can all experience jealousy. If we want to thrive, we need to stop letting jealousy rule the relationship. 

I remember seeing a friend getting very protective over his partner when she spoke to this one guy. It was very strange to see because he was usually so laid-back. I thought it was obvious that there was nothing sinister going on, but it really affected him.   

Some of us will be able to relate to this story. Either because the person we’re with, or we ourselves, have been jealous. It may still even happen from time to time. 

How do we address these issues in a healthy way?

Now I know that sometimes, unfortunately, there is something sinister happening. And people do sadly end up cheating and being unfaithful. So I’m not saying if we see something that worries us then we should just pretend it doesn’t mean that. But this post is about something else. 

Constantly On Edge 

This is for those of us who are in a fairly new relationship deciding if it will move forward, or maybe we have been in one a while and are a bit worried about it for some reason. We know deep down that jealousy seems to be constantly putting us on edge and not helping us in our situation, or our partner may be experiencing it a lot. 

So how do we address these issues in a healthy way, making sure it doesn’t ruin our relationship? 

I have written about jealousy before, particularly on how we may deal with it as an individual (Read I’m Not Jealous, I Just Care!) But in this post, I want to focus on how, as a couple, we can approach the issue. I would say three things are vital: 

  • Talk About Being Jealous
  • Talk About Insecurities 
  • Talk About It Soon 

Talk About Being Jealous

This may sound easy, or even straightforward, but it really isn’t. 

Often we talk about everything linked to it, like why were they talking to that attractive person, all night?! Or why were they ‘clearly’ flirting?! If we’re feeling jealous, we need to actually bring it out into the open. 

If we are the one who is on the receiving end, we can’t just say ‘you’re just jealous’, and use that phrase to insinuate that they’re in the wrong. Maybe we did go too far, maybe not, but we need to at least realise they are hurting. We need to see it from their viewpoint. 

Instead of talking about the things they are doing, or the reason why it’s not ‘my’ fault, we need to actually talk about the jealousy. This will take courage on both sides, and just admitting to that emotion will be painful, but we need to talk about it. 

Talk About Insecurities 

Again, I want to say that sometimes we may see something and have a legitimate concern, or maybe the person we are with did go too far. If we’re the ones being accused, we need to be willing to see things from the other person’s view if we really care about them. 

However, if jealous is an issue we are constantly dealing with, it may be because of an insecurity. 

Good communication at this point is needed more than ever

For example, it may be that we are unsure how committed they are to us and the relationship, and some situations highlight that. The truth is, until we talk about the commitment issue honestly and openly, the feeling of jealousy will never go, and will weaken the relationship. 

Whether we’re the ones getting jealous, or the person we are with is, we cannot just ignore the deep issues it’s linked to and brush it off. Good communication at this point is needed more than ever. (Read How To Communicate Well When We’re Annoyed) 

Talk About It Soon

Like with most problems, the longer we leave it, the biggest the problem gets. If we don’t talk about it, the negative emotions will come out passively, or as angry exchanges, which will not be good for anyone.

It needs to be addressed. The sooner the better. 

Imagine If…

We all want our relationships to be strong. Any relationships, no matter how ‘sorted’ it looks, will involve the couple dealing with jealousy at some point. Maybe only a few times, or maybe in a big way, but it will happen. 

Imagine if, we made sure we: Talk About Being Jealous, Talk About Insecurities, and Talk About It Soon. That way, we wouldn’t let it ruin the relationship. (Read 2 Proven Traits That Make A Relationship Last) 

What other advice have you heard when it comes to jealousy? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 26/11/2018

The Best Advice For Getting Over A Break-Up

Break- Ups, Interesting Research

Break-ups are part of dating sometimes, but they are not easy and they’re not fun. Logically, we may be able to gain some perspective, reason it all through and tell ourselves it’s okay. Yet this isn’t stopping the emotional roller coaster or pain we’re experiencing. However, the latest research from psychologists offers us three bits of advice to help us deal with the heartache of a break-up. 

I remember talking to a friend who had just broken up with his girlfriend. He was understandably upset, and while it wasn’t a total surprise, he had hoped it would turn out differently. 

If you asked him about it at the time, he could tell you all the reasons why it was probably best for both of them. Why it wasn’t going to work out long-term, while giving all the good reasons why they had separated. But he would also have these emotional outbursts and want to get back with her.

Emotional Bond

I thought, and still think, that this is totally understandable. A relationship isn’t only about reason or logic, it involves our emotions too. 

Breaking an emotional bond is hard in any situation. Some break-ups are mutual, some aren’t. Some may be coming for a while, but others are a complete surprise. The common denominator though is that all of them leave some emotional pain and heartache.

The emotional bond is probably going to be harder to deal with

So whether we can or can’t reason with ourselves that it’s for the best, we need to understand that the emotional bond is probably going to be harder to deal with. This needs to be addressed if we want to get over it.  

New Research Offers 3 Tips  

Saying to someone there is plenty more fish in the sea, or saying that it could be worse, may be logical and help to an extent, but it doesn’t help people get off the emotional roller coaster. However, new research from psychologists may be able to help us.  

The research suggests 3 main strategies to get over heartbreak. 

  1. Think Negatively About Your Ex
  2. Accept Your Lingering Feeling Towards Them 
  3. Distract Yourself

Think Negatively About Your Ex

This strategy involves us critically examining our ex and remembering that they’re not perfect. 

This will help because it reminds us that it’s unhealthy to just remember the good bits, which can cause us to fall into the trap of thinking that no one else will ever make us happy again. This will also cause us to be stuck in the past, rather than putting our energy into moving forward. 

Taken too far, this can become really negative and make you feel worse. I had a friend who would endlessly list and exaggerate all the things that she (now) thought was wrong about her ex. But it made her really bitter and she processed her emotions in the wrong way. (Read The Worst Advice You Can Hear About Rejection)

Thinking negatively can help us gain the right perspective if it’s balanced with the other 2 strategies. 

Accept Your Lingering Feelings Towards Them 

This involves accepting that the emotional bond is still there.

We can’t ignore it

We can’t ignore it, pretend the feelings don’t exist or try to cover them up with another dose of anger. We’re allowed to say and accept that breaking the emotional bond is hard.

It will also help us to dig down into why we like them. Was it because of their sense of humour or the way they treated you, etc. These characteristics can help us to look for the right things in the next partner when the time is right.

Being able to realise what was good and reminding ourselves that they will not be the only person who has a sense of humour or who will treat us well, will help us to focus on moving forward. 

Distract Yourself

This strategy is as simple as it sounds. It’s about putting things in the diary, keeping ourselves busy, and meeting up with friends. 

The research suggests that this will not necessarily help reduce the feelings we have for our ex, because we all know just ignoring a problem won’t make it go away. However, it can make us feel more positive and optimistic because we won’t just sit there and think about the break-up.  

New research seems to offer us some real tangible and practical advice

Doing things we love to do or used to do, but haven’t in a while because of the past relationship, will also help create a more positive and forward-looking mindset too (Read Revealed: Why Some Break-Ups Feel Good (After A While))  

Imagine If…

All three strategies can help people overcome the pain of breaking an emotional bond. While there is no magic formula, and everyone is different with unique situations, new research seems to offer us some real tangible and practical advice. 

Imagine if you made sure you did indeed: Think Negatively About Your Ex, Accept Your Lingering Feeling Towards Them, and Distract Yourself, and enabled others to do the same, we could find real help in times of need. (Read Break-Ups, Anger, and Frustration, What Should I Change?)

What other advice have you given to people in this situation? Comments welcomed below.  

Originally posted 19/11/2018