relationship writer dating lessons

My Job Has Turned Me Into a Relationship Therapist—Here’s What I’ve Learned

Hot tip: Keep the first date short.

By: Maria Del Russo

For the past three years, I’ve written extensively about sex and relationships. I’ve turned my own sex life into something of a social experiment, sharing the lessons I’ve learned from bad dates, awkward app experiences, and mind-blowing hookups. I’ve also interviewed dozens of experts on the subject: sexologists, psychologists, OBGYNs, and more than a few sex workers.

I love my job because it allows me to connect with people about the one thing we all seemed confused about—love. No one knows what they’re doing, it turns out. I’m reminded of this every time I tell a person, be it a potential date or a potential friend, about how I make my living, and they spill their neurosis vis-à-vis dating.

And so, even though I’m constantly compared to a certain curly-haired sex writer who first graced our TV screens 20 years ago, in reality, I’ve become more like a therapist. All the knowledge I’ve acquired has allowed me to instantly pinpoint a person’s insecurities when it comes to dating and give them advice. And, according to the feedback I receive, I’m pretty good.

In chatting with people, I’ve uncovered a handful of universal truths that apply to just about anyone who is currently single—some regardless of their gender. I lay these out, along with my advice on how to navigate these situations, ahead. (It should be noted, however, that I don’t take my own advice, because that would be too easy. Hence, I remain perpetually single. Pray for me.)

 

No one has game on dating apps

Seriously—no one. Everyone’s opener is terrible, and no one writes a good profile. So don’t judge a person based on theirs, and don’t sweat yours. Swipe right if you think they have a nice ass, chat briefly, and then move things to an IRL meeting.

 

If you’re confused about whether or not they like you, they don’t

This is a HUGE lesson that we can all stand to learn. Don’t DM me with your “but they said x-y-z.” No. Stop it. A person who truly likes you will let it be known that they like you. It will be obvious. If you have a question mark over your head, they don’t like you. Time to re-download your apps.

 

A first date is nerve-racking for everyone

That’s why I think they should be short and include an adult beverage. Don’t drag them on for hours and hours. See if you like one another, set a second date, and move on from there.

 

Not all men are assholes, and not all women want relationships

In fact, most stereotypes are 100 percent false, and the second we start believing them, we self-sabotage. So yes, some women just want to hook up. There is such a thing as a nice guy. Don’t let your past experiences color your potential future.

 

99 percent of men won’t remember what women wore on a first date

I know it sounds ridiculous, but in speaking to heterosexual men about dates, I’ve gathered the majority of them are less concerned about what you’re wearing and more concerned with whether or not you look “put together.” So maybe no sweatpants, but go ahead and wear your mom jeans and purple lipstick, your post-work power outfit, or your favorite yoga ensemble. From what I’m told, it seems to be important that you smell good, though, so deodorant and breath mints might be a better priority.

 

We all need to lighten the fuck up

Overall, we all take this shit way too seriously. We expect to know by date three whether or not we want to marry someone. If we don’t want to fuck a person on the first date, we don’t line up a second date with them. We could all stand to loosen up and drop our expectations. Dating used to be about getting to know one another over a period of time before making any rash decisions. So give people a chance. Go with the flow. Give a person you just feel so-so with a shot at a second date. And most of all, have fun with dating. There is sex and booze and food involved, usually. What’s not to love about that?

 

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