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There’s nothing quite like the feeling of falling for someone new; everything is exciting and you discover so much about yourself and the other person throughout the entire process. It truly is a magical feeling. However, before you start picturing your life long-term with them, you might want to take a few steps back and evaluate the situation to determine if you really want to start developing feelings. The next time you start dating someone new, ask yourself these seven questions to see if you really should be taking that plunge into a potential relationship.
1. What are you looking for?
Before you can even attempt to start dating someone new, it’s best to sit back and reflect on what your personal goals are for a potential relationship. Are you interested in finding something serious, or would you prefer more of a hookup-only scenario? Determining what you want before you start dating someone new is absolutely essential so you can ensure you’re both on the same page. If you don’t know what you want, how do you expect them to know what to give you? “First and foremost, it’s important to know what you’re looking for—a hookup, casual dating, or a relationship?” says relationship counselor and dating coach Samantha Burns. “This impacts how you approach dating and the emotional energy you invest into the process. If you’re hoping to land a new relationship, you should reflect on your love lessons, which are things you’ve learned in your past relationship(s) so that you can become a smarter, more intentional dater moving forward. You should also ask yourself what are you most proud of and most passionate about. Feeling confident in yourself and being able to speak energetically and engagingly about a topic is a big turn on when dating.” Remember the popular phrase, "You have to love yourself before someone else can love you?" Well, this applies to knowing what you want out of life, too.
Related: 9 Things You Need to Know About Dating in Your Twenties
2. Do they make you laugh?
Having a compatible personality with a potential SO is such a key element of a successful relationship. A sense of humor is often something that is listed high on people’s requirements for a SO, so finding someone who can make you laugh is so important. “Nice gifts or fun dates are always enjoyable but the way to my heart is a good laugh,” Hannah, a senior at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, says. “Any guy I fall for has to have a great sense of humor and be able to make me laugh with his jokes.” Before you start actually dating someone, consider their personality and decide whether you two laugh at the same things. If the answer is no, you might want to reconsider pursuing a dating relationship with them.
3. Would they get along with your friends and family?
Even if you aren’t looking for something too serious right now, it’s important to consider whether this person will get along with those who are the most important to you: your friends and family. Successful dates often end in that person being introduced to all who love you and their approval usually weighs heavily on the outcome of the relationship. Try to avoid any negative outcomes by considering whether your crush will get along with your friends and family. “I always like to think about whether my parents will like them,” Kandis, a senior at University of California, Santa Barbara, says. “If I don’t think they’ll get along, I don’t want to waste my time developing feelings just to have to cut things off later. I wouldn’t want to date someone who doesn’t want to come hang out with me and my parents for a casual night in; that’s such an important aspect of a relationship for me!”
4. Do you even have time to commit to growing a relationship right now?
We all know college can be an extremely busy time for everyone, and you have to decide whether you can squeeze in yet another thing into your already hectic schedule. Building a new relationship takes time, so you should really consider how much spare time you have to devote to something new. If you barely have time for yourself, you might want to pump the brakes a little and avoid starting anything new. “I always have the busiest schedule, but if I’m interested in someone enough, I’ll make time to grow that connection,” Carmen, a senior at San Diego State University, says. “It really depends on the person though. If I don’t see potential for something serious, I’ll just hang out with them when I can instead of actively making time for them.” Again, knowing what you’re looking for ahead of time is absolutely essential.
Related: 5 College Dating Mistakes You’re Making (& How to Avoid Them)
5. Do they fit in with the picture you have for your future?
Honestly, what’s the point of dating if you don’t see some sort of future with them? You might not need to see wedding bells, but if you can’t picture yourself with this person for at least the next few months, save yourself the trouble and cut ties now. “It’s easy to get swept away in the early stages of a new relationship, when the neurochemical cocktail of hormones, such as dopamine and oxytocin, give you that lovin’ feeling,” Burns says. “This stage can last anywhere from about six months to two years, so to figure out if you’re truly a good match, you’ll want to see how your relationship grows and feels once you’re out of the honeymoon stage. If those smitten feelings wear off and you realize you don’t have a lot in common, have very different belief systems, or you don’t like yourself in the relationship because you’re constantly feeling needy, jealous, insecure or sad, then it may be time to call it quits.” It might be tough to ask about their core values or beliefs early on in a fling, but it’ll definitely be worth the awkward convo if it saves you from realizing this person has a completely different life plan than you.
6. Do you have physical chemistry with them?
Physical attraction isn’t everything, but it is an important element when it comes to dating someone. It might take a little bit more than just being able to daydream about a steamy hookup with this person, but it certainly won’t hurt anything to have that extra connection! “I’ve tried dating the ideal ‘good guy’ but I just didn’t have that sexual chemistry with him…it just didn’t feel right,” Josephine, a sophomore at Arizona State University, says. “Even though he was everything I said I wanted on paper, it just couldn’t turn into anything because I never felt the urge to just make-out with him–which is definitely what you need in a relationship!” After all, this is what sets someone apart from just being a casual friend.
7. Ultimate question: Are you willing to take the chance of getting your heart broken?
Honestly, getting into a new relationship is scary AF. Letting yourself fall for someone new is a huge step, and some of us are just too afraid to even try. One of the biggest questions you can ask yourself when faced with the opportunity to start seeing someone new is whether you’re willing to take that chance of being heartbroken. If that person is worth the risk, then by all means, go for it! Not sure if you’re even ready for something that risky? You might want to err on the side of caution and slowly ease yourself into seeing someone new instead. “I’ve been burned too many times in the past, it’s sometimes hard for me to fall for someone new,” Madi, a junior at Colorado Mesa University, says. “If I think I could actually develop feelings for someone, I make sure they know how cautious I am about it all so they can understand why I sometimes act the way I do.” If they are worth it, they’ll wait for you to be ready.
Basically, being open and honest with yourself about your dating goals and intentions is absolutely crucial when you’re faced with dating a potential new beau. As cliché as it sounds, how can you expect someone to be honest with you if you can’t be honest with yourself? Save yourself (and the other person!) some time and consider these questions before you pursue a new relationship!