Couple contemplating how many dates before starting a relationship

The definition of a healthy relationship can vary greatly from one person to the next, but there are a few things to keep in mind when you are first beginning the journey. While your friends, family, and co-workers are sure to share their perspectives on the right way to start a relationship, the decision is truly up to you and your partner to decide what works best for you. Relationships (especially in the beginning) can be a combination of both exciting and overwhelming. While many people look towards societal norms as a way to determine their best course of action when navigating a new relationship, remember that every single couple is different. Instead of focusing on the number of dates you should go on before starting a relationship, focus on creating a healthy environment for you and your partner. There are tons of different ways you can start a relationship- but making sure both individuals are healthy and mentally prepared for the journey is the first step. Below are a few things to keep in mind if you are wondering whether or not you are on the “right” path with your significant other. 

1. Beware of Rebound Relationships

Rebound relationships are characterized by jumping from one relationship to the next without the proper time in between to reflect on your own mental state. Rebound relationships happen quite often and tend to reduce the chances of long-term success. While initially entering a new relationship may feel completely right, if you have not given yourself the time to properly get over your ex, the chances are you will face some challenges in your new journey.

2. Understand Your Own Values and Goals

In order for a healthy relationship to thrive, individuals must have a concrete understanding of who they are as a person—they must account for their own values and goals before taking the time to jump into a courtship. Failure to recognize the most important things to you makes it incredibly difficult to know what it is you are looking for in a partner. You must truly know yourself before you can give your love to someone else.

3. Use Positive Communication Techniques

While some couples go on numerous dates before starting a relationship, others find that jumping into a relationship is actually what feels more appropriate for them. There are no rules that say you must know each other for a certain amount of time, but the chances are that your relationship will not last if you have not established positive communication techniques. Whether you started dating after just knowing each other briefly, or after many years, the important point is that you know how to talk to one another in an effective and positive way.

4. Consider Speaking to a Relationship Coach

If you are starting to get serious with someone, but you have some major questions about whether or not the timing is appropriate, consider seeking out a relationship coach for some advice. Turning to family or friends is always helpful when asking for some outside advice, but a relationship coach can be a neutral party that you can bounce your concerns off of. You may be nervous that you are dating someone too soon, or that there is a chance this is a rebound relationship, and a coach can help you navigate these challenges.

5. Practice Self-Care

The only way that relationships can truly thrive is when both individuals have taken the time and effort to work on themselves. While a relationship may seem like a great idea, make sure to consider whether or not you are in a healthy and happy place as an individual before committing to someone else. Make sure you are fulfilled by things outside of the relationship—like hobbies, work, or friendships. None of us have it all figured out, and life will never be perfect, but a healthy relationship requires both individuals to take time out to practice self-care. If you don’t love yourself, you cannot expect to love someone else. Take a moment each day to care for yourself—do yoga, follow your dreams, speak to your family—really anything that sparks joy within you. 

Starting a new relationship can come with endless questions, but the most important thing is that you are honest and open with yourself and where you are at in your own life. You may be concerned that you are not taking the “normal” path towards love—but try not to compare yourself to others. A healthy relationship is more likely to flourish when you take things in your own time.

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