The Happiest Single People I Know Follow This Dating Advice

If you’re single, you likely have no shortage of people offering you advice on your love life, from your mom to your well-meaning married friend who tells you that you need to “put yourself out there more” (never mind that she’s been with the same guy since she bumped into him at a Shins concert in 2004). But in my experience, the most valuable wisdom comes from my fellow single ladies, women of all ages who have been navigating dating in an era of apps, Insta-stalking and everything in between—and still manage to have a positive outlook. 

5 Things to Stop Saying to Your Single Friends

woman drinking at a bar

Arrive First and Pay in Cash
“If you’re meeting an app match for the first time at a bar, arrive early and pay for your first drink in cash so you can make a quick exit if necessary. Sounds extreme, but if things go south, the last thing you want is to have to wait around to close your tab.”—Clara, 31

Think Beyond Grabbing Drinks
“Try dates that are more interactive activities than dinner, drinks or coffee. You can get to know another person more quickly by experiencing something together. Concerts, sporting events, comedy shows, museums and street fairs will give you plenty to talk about. One guy took me on a date to this sky slide thing in downtown L.A.. It was definitely a good icebreaker.”—Renée, 33

Don't Give Up an Evening for Just Anyone
“Only give a second date to someone who's proved that spending time with them is going to be better than being on the couch in your pajamas and a face mask.”—Erica, 29

Take Their Online Persona at Face Value
“If you’ve been messaging with someone and they’re not asking questions or putting any effort into meeting up, don’t assume they’ll be better in person. They’re showing you exactly what they’re capable of—which is nothing. You officially have permission to write them off.”—Adrienne, 36

Know When to Ignore Other People's Advice
“I've been told so many times that it's a numbers game; that more dates will get you closer to the relationship you're looking for. Once I threw that conceit out the window, I became a much happier single person. Basically, what worked for one person, especially when it comes to dating apps, is their experience alone. And it's OK if it may not be yours.”—Lauren, 35

couple talking in coffee shop

Rethink Your Incentive
“Try to view dates as an excuse to go out and get a drink because you wanted to go out and get a drink anyway. If there are sparks, great; if not, you still got to check out that new bar you’ve been wondering about.”—Rachel, 27 

Keep an Open Mind
“Go out with people who aren’t ‘your type.’ Attraction can come in many forms and someone who doesn’t tick certain boxes might surprise you in other ways.”—Camille, 32

Remember It Goes Both Ways
“Remember that a first date is also an opportunity for you to assess what the other person can bring to your life—not a challenge to win them over. It's not a one-way street and it's important to ask whether you like them and how they make you feel, not obsess as much about the other way around.—Anna, 34

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
“Don’t try to be ‘perfect’ at the expense of being authentic to who you are, and don’t dwell on any perceived missteps. The wording of a text isn’t going to matter to someone you actually connect with.”—Jade, 42

couple walking down cobblestone street

Channel Your Vacation Self
“When you’re on a date, try to channel the version of yourself you are on vacation. Think relaxed, spontaneous and open to new experiences as opposed to wary and skeptical. (On a related note, hitting the apps while you are on vacation is a fun way to get some local recommendations and exercise the dating muscle in a no-pressure situation.)”—Whitney, 38

Watch Out for Warning Signs
“Swipe left on anyone who uses critical language in their profile (e.g., ‘Don't bring drama’ or ‘No basic girls’). Even if it’s not something that applies to you, it automatically reveals them to have biases and a negative attitude toward women and you’re better off not wasting your time.”—Jamie, 43

Give Yourself a Break
“Don’t feel guilty for deleting or not using the apps. Sometimes you need a break. And on a related note, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not dating enough: Self-care is important and if that means a few weeks of date-free evenings, so be it.”—Luisa, 24

Think of It as Life Experience
“Getting to know other people on this planet is interesting even if it doesn’t go anywhere. Sometimes dating can feel like a chore—try to change your perspective. At the very least, you might get a funny story out of it.”—Sarah, 35

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From 2016-2019 Carolyn Kuang-chen Stanley held the role of Editor covering food, travel and all things nyc.