A couple in a new relationship laughing and hugging each other as they touch noses.

Ok, before we dive in and start talking about starting a new relationship, let’s make sure you’ve got these two, very important, things down:

1. You love yourself.
No one will be able to love you more than you can. And if you don’t love and respect yourself, it’s difficult to create healthy boundaries and attract people who are going to treat you well. If you don’t believe you’re worthy or lovable at your core, it doesn’t matter how amazing your partner is, you’ll still have those feelings of not being enough.

2. You’re starting a relationship for the right reasons.
Don’t do it if you’re lonely, still hurting from past experiences, or worrying you’re running out of time. You’ve got to take the time to sit with those feelings, feel your way through them, and emerge on the other side; before you can be in a truly loving, committed, healthy relationship.

If you’re on top of these two things, then a lot of the tough work is done. But not all of it. Here are some important tips for the beginning any new relationship:

Have different dates.
Mix things up—grab drinks after work, go for a picnic, have a walk on the beach, or even double date with friends. This will do two things—ensure you keep things lively and interesting at the beginning of your relationship, which is vital. And, it will also help you see your partner in different situations, and give you a more complete picture of who they are.

Always be yourself.
We all want to make a good impression at the start, and it’s important to because there’s a lot of competition out there, right?

This is why it can be tempting to embellish certain things about who you are, what your life looks like, and pretend to like certain things that you actually can’t stand; but this is always going to backfire in the long run.

Listen.
Most of us love talking about ourselves, and dating gives us the perfect opportunity to do just that. But if you spend too much time talking, not only will you come across as self-obsessed but you’ll also fail to listen and learn anything about the person in front of you. Listening is one of the best things you can do when starting a new relationship.

Stop thinking about your ex.
This is an obvious one, but it’s tough for many of us to do, especially if we’re not fully over our ex. And if you’re not, quit dating until you are.

At the beginning of new relationships, it’s important to leave your past relationships in the past. Don’t think about your ex, compare the person in front of you to them, or talk about them (unless you’re specifically asked about them). Give this the fresh start it deserves.

Make your intentions clear.
If you’re looking for a serious relationship, please be honest and upfront about that early on; and invite the person you’re dating to do the same. The sooner you do this, the better, so neither of you waste time on something that isn’t going to work out in the long run.

Don’t be afraid of scaring people off by being straight like this. The only people you’ll scare are those who are scared of commitment, and it’s better to find that out early on and avoid getting hurt later down the line.

Don’t have sex until both of you are 100% ready.
Different people take different amounts of time to feel ready to have sex with a new partner, so when you start nearing the point where you feel ready, have a conversation about it. There’s no right time, and too soon or too late doesn’t exist—what’s right for you as a couple is what’s right.

Even if one of you is ready much sooner, it’s important to wait until both of you are ready, so that no one feels disrespected or rushed. This will make all the difference when you finally do choose to have sex.

Respect yourself.
Continue to make yourself a priority, and make time for self-care, and solo time. This shows that you love and respect yourself enough to take care of yourself.

When you treat yourself well, you give your partner a golden example of how you expect them to treat you. And if they don’t, you’ll be strong and sure enough to walk away.

Take things slow.
If you’ve found someone you have a genuine connection with, you’re physically attracted to, and can see a real future with; don’t take things too fast.

Telling all your friends, changing your online relationship status, and talking non-stop about your new person to your colleagues is only going to sting if things don’t work out like you planned.

You need to have had at least six dates before you can realistically see a future with someone, and declare that they’re the one.

Enjoy every moment of it!
All these tips and how to guides often forget the most important thing when it comes to dating and relationships, which is have fun. Because it’s supposed to be enjoyable.

Those initial moments of getting to know someone new, not knowing what’s coming next, and having new experiences is what makes it amazing.

Focusing on what might or might not happen in the future is only preventing you from being present in the moment, and enjoying this dance you’re doing together while you figure it all out.

Relax, and don’t worry about what happens next—focus on living it instead.

Shani Jay

Bestselling Author and Empowerment Coach

Shani holds a mirror to your soul, so you can see how beautiful you already are. She is the founder of She Rose Revolution, a bestselling author, empowerment leader, and an internationally published writer.

Her words have reached and touched millions, while her books have made their way into the hands and hearts of thousands of women worldwide.

You can find out more about Shani by heading to her website and connecting with her on Instagram.