By: Lime Green Giraffe Social Director, Avery B.

Raise your hand if dating is scary! Don’t worry, I raised both of mine. No matter if it’s your first relationship or your twentieth, it’s always intimidating opening yourself up and trusting someone enough to start dating them. Never fear, the Lime Green Giraffe is here to help! Here are a few important things to remember when it comes to dating.

1.    You don’t have to say yes
It’s a hard thing for anyone to work up the courage to ask someone out, and when someone does, it deserves a lot of respect! However, you should never feel pressured to say yes. Agreeing to going on a date or becoming someone’s girlfriend is a choice, and it is your right to say no. You should never be rude about it (especially if they were brave enough to ask you in person!) but don’t feel guilty for refusing. Do what makes you feel comfortable and happy. It’s easier to say no at the beginning than have to crush their heart later by telling them you aren’t ready or don’t feel the same.
2.    Wait for when you feel ready
Our society likes to tell us, girls especially, that dating someone makes us cool, it makes us mature, it makes beautiful and desirable. That, my friends, is a big fat lie. Dating is a big decision! And it’s something that can be overwhelming. It is a serious commitment, and different people are ready to make it at different times. No one but you can judge if you are comfortable and emotionally ready to date someone, so no one but you should have a say in the matter. The internet, Hollywood, your friends… the pressure is absolutely there. But you should wait for when you feel ready. Another aspect of that is waiting until you meet the right person. Never agree to date someone you don’t know well, you don’t trust, or don’t have a crush on. As with tip number one, it’s always easier to say no at the beginning.
3.    Set boundaries
Even if you don’t think you’ll be dating anyone anytime soon, it’s best to know your boundaries beforehand. Both physically and emotionally, one of the most important things about dating (as we’ve said above) is feeling comfortable. Making sure you understand things you won’t negotiate about will make it easier to communicate with your partner later. It’s always ok to say no to anything that you are not comfortable with. It is your mind, your body, and therefore your decision – they need to respect that. If they ever disrespect your boundaries, you should leave them. If they don’t respect you, then they obviously aren’t anywhere close to being good enough to date you. Additionally, make sure you're respecting your partner's boundaries, too.
4.    Don’t stress about it
Dating is supposed to be enjoyable! It’s a close, special relationship where you get to spend fun moments with someone you care about. Especially during your teenage years, dating isn’t a lifetime commitment and should be something joyous, something that makes you happy. It should never make you feel anxious, stressed, scared, depressed, or anything else bad. Rough spots are expected – no relationship is perfect. But if you can’t remember why you are dating that person in the first place, it might be time to take a step back.
5.    Don’t be afraid to leave
As we mentioned above, if this relationship turns into something toxic, or abusive*, it’s ok to leave. At any time, if you don’t feel the same about the person anymore or you find you like someone else, it’s best to be honest and upfront. Don’t trap yourself in a relationship where you feel unhappy and don’t stay just because you feel guilty. It is ok to break up with someone. As with rejecting someone, always do it with respect and kindness, but don’t feel bad for putting yourself before a dysfunctional relationship. 
6.    Don’t isolate yourself
Many girls, especially with first relationships, devote so much of their energy into their relationships that they have little to spend with their family and friends. It is so important not to push those people away. They cared for you before you started dating and they’ll be there after the relationship is over. Isolating yourself can lead to a toxic or unhealthy relationship and it isn’t a good thing for anyone. Spend time with your friends and family; your relationship can wait for a few hours.
7.    Communication! Is! Important!
Above everything, communication is the key to a healthy, strong relationship. Being honest about your opinions and feelings will make sure you both are on the same page and can save you some awful misunderstandings. It’s also important to talk about both the good and the bad in your relationship. Maintaining a balance is vital; too much of the positive, and you could accidentally ignore some big problems. Focusing on too much of the negative can cause you to forget why you’re even dating in the first place! Always be real and open in your relationship, and it will make everything easier.

I hope these tips helped! Dating can be intimidating, yes, but when you make sure you’re comfortable and happy, it can be a great thing.

* Note: If you think you or someone you know might be in an abusive relationship, ask for help or check out for information and resources.

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