li Jie

I'm a creator and a writer

Three Things To Do Before You Date

Don’t worry: one of them is not “love yourself”

You won’t find “Love yourself” anywhere on my list. While I have said before that you should love yourself and chase no one, that’s a general rule for life, not just for dating. But when we come out of relationships and start to think about dating again, there are three things we might want to consider doing before we dip a toe back into the shark-infested waters of the dating pool.

Get Therapy

While I don’t believe that you have to be perfect or have your shit entirely together in order to date, I do believe that every single person would benefit from the experience of seeking professional help to work on their problems. We all have problems.

I understand that therapy isn’t always affordable or accessible, but online options have helped. If it’s possible for us to get therapy, then we might want to consider at least a few sessions before we tiptoe back out into the wide world of dating. Consider it maintenance for your mental health.

I’m taking my own advice right now. I’m getting therapy, and I have no intention of stopping. While I may eventually reduce my number of sessions, I don’t plan to stop going. Therapy has been one of the most powerful decisions I’ve ever made for myself.

Date Yourself

Before we date other people, we may want to consider taking a time-out to date ourselves. It may sound ridiculous, but the truth is that some people aren’t comfortable with their own company. Instead, they try to fill their time dating or engaging in conversations with potential partners.

When I have free time, I’m selfish with it. I don’t always want to spend it with other people unless we have a real connection. I make time for close friends, and I use the rest of my limited free time pursuing my interests. I know how to date myself — treating myself to dinners, flowers, and cozy nights in. I don’t have to have someone in my life, although I do want someone in my life. It’s important to understand the difference. If we aren’t comfortable in our own company, we may need to do that before we go out and enjoy someone else’s.

Raise Your Standards

The most powerful thing we’ll ever do for ourselves in dating — outside of seeing a therapist — is raising our standards all the way up. I don’t mean creating unrealistic expectations for perfection. I do mean that we should stop settling for poor fits. If we aren’t getting our needs met, it’s not a good fit. If the person we’re interested in doesn’t have the same values, it’s not a good fit. If we’re dating someone who doesn’t share our vision of the future, it’s not a good fit.

We don’t have to settle for what we don’t want. There lies the path to breakups and divorce. We do need to be clear about what we want and who we are — not give everyone the happy highlights while hiding away our messes. We can be honest about who we are and what we’re looking for while maintaining our standards. Anyone who doesn’t love us for who we are or want what we do just isn’t right for us. Accepting this upfront could make dating a hell of a lot easier.

When we’re single for a while and feeling lonely with it, it can be tempting to lower our standards. Don’t. It’s not worth it. It’s better to be lonely and single than to be lonely in the wrong relationship.


I’m not sure when I’ll date again. I’m not putting it on a timeline. I’m going to therapy, dating myself, and keeping my standards where they should have been in the first place. One day, I’ll connect with someone amazing. But today, I’m trying to connect with my amazing self — to know that I’m taking the steps to be a good human, not just find one.

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