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How to set dating goals when you have little dating experience in 3 easy steps

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Nov 14, 2023

How to set dating goals when you have little dating experience in 3 easy steps

There are plenty of fish in the sea, as they say. But what if you don’t even know how to fish?! Metaphors aside, it really can feel that way when you’re in the dating scene. Practicing dating with intention is not always so intuitive when you’re not even that familiar with the rules of dating in the first place!

Everyone’s gotta start somewhere – that includes dating, too. Not everyone enters the dating world knowing exactly what to do. For some people, it comes more naturally than others, and for others, it takes some extra effort. That little extra effort could be as grand as taking a queer dating course (yes, they exist!), or it could be as subtle as establishing your own personal dating goals

Dating goals refer to the goals you set for yourself when you set out into the dating world. Of course, these dating goals can be shared with your dates, but they should always start with you. 

Do you want a monogamous relationship? Do you want just to have sex or find something deeper? These questions scratch the surface of dating goals, but at the end of the day, they should be personal to you.

Find your dating goals with these tips for dating with intention

So, how do you set goals for dating anyway? You might want to break out your journal for this one because it might really help. You could finish this article by clarifying your dating goals as a day, making picking a partner theoretically easier. 

After all, as world-renowned couple’s psychologist says,

“When you pick a partner, you pick a story. So what kind of story are you going to write? You are the editors of your life stories. Write well and edit often.”

Esther Perel
A queer couple lays on the ground, one person on their back and the other resting their head on the other’s stomach. Some would consider this as couple goals.

Reflect on the kind of committed relationship you want

Do you want a monogamous relationship? Or a polyamorous relationship? That question can already be too much when you don’t even know what it’s like to be in either kind of relationship. 

Unless you’re sure that you don’t want one or the other, the best way to go about this is to explore your options and try them

Really follow your heart when you click with someone, and try to make it work – but don’t overdo it. Monogamy and polyamory both take a tremendous amount of work, but it’s possible. If you’re at this level of commitment, you have to be ready to face hard truths and difficult decisions if the situation calls for it, like breaking up if you and your partner have different expectations. 

Also, reflect on whether you even want any kind of committed relationship. You could simply just want to hook up with someone or go out on dates for fun, and not intend to get anything long-term out of it. All of these are reasonable intentions when dating.

What kind of person do you want to be with?

Do you envision yourself with a potential partner snuggling with you every morning or having sex every day? That’s absolutely a couple of goals, right? Maybe, maybe not – like everything, it depends.

You must consider that people have different attachment styles and generally different ways of communicating closeness. Be open and flexible to different forms of communication and love languages when considering your dating goals.

Reflect on your desire for a relationship

Burnout is not just a work-related phenomenon; dating burnout is actually a thing. One of the best ways to avoid burnout is to face the triggers and look for red flags in your habits and thought patterns. 

Reflecting on your initial desire for a relationship could uncover some flags – red, yellow, or green – that you might want to address. For example, do you want a relationship because that’s what’s expected of you? Or is it something you really want out of pure loneliness or because you want to share experiences and life with another person, even briefly? 

Real, mindful, and honest introspection can set a strong foundation for building meaningful interpersonal relationships. It all starts with you.

Expect the unexpected when dating

You might have your dating goals down to a science at this point. You might have little dating experience, but you know enough to know what you don’t want. Either way, having an open mind and letting go of strict expectations can open the world to amazing possibilities – and perhaps your perfect match. A little whimsy never hurt anyone, right? 

Relationship expert and psychologist says,

“We seek connection, predictability, and dependability to root us firmly in place. But we also have a need for change, for the unexpected, for transcendence.”

Esther Perel

Predictability and change are the name of the game, then! 

A queer couple embrace as people surround them at a Pride March. A dating goal could be wanting someone to go to a Pride March with.

Preparing for your first date when practicing mindful dating

What are the goals of a first date, anyway? Sean M. Horan, Ph.D. makes the first counter-question to that very simple: why did you go on your last date

Mindfulness entails introspecting and coming up with useful insights that will help you in your future choices. So ask yourself why you went on your last date before you go on your next first date with someone. Did you go on your last date to get over someone? Did you go because you were lonely and needed company? There’s no right or wrong answer here, but whatever answer you end up with might help you be more present and attuned to your next date.

That being said, researchers have actually investigated the straightforward goals people may have going into a first date. In the 2000s, Dr. Paul Mongeau, from Arizona State University, conducted a study of 144 people where he identified five main goals for a first date: 

  1. Have fun – if you’re not having fun, what’s the point anyway? 
  2. Reduce uncertainty – This refers to simply getting to know the other person better. 
  3. Investigate romantic potential – This differs from “reducing uncertainty” and leans more towards the opposite direction and discovering how certain you feel about wanting to continue things with your date.
  4. Sexual activity – This may or may not apply to everyone – hello, asexuality exists! 
  5. Friendship – Every great romantic relationship has a strong friendship as a foundation, after all.

Do any of these apply to you? Reflect on each one and see which ones resonate with you. Who knows, you might figure out your overall dating goals outside of a first date! Consider brushing up on our lesbian dating tips to get more insights on how to walk into your first date. 

A lesbian couple discuss their dating goals over cups of coffee.

How do you talk about dating goals with your partner? 

You’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on your dating goals; now you’re ready to share them. You can share them with your trusted friends or even those you currently date.

Perhaps you’ve just begun dating or want to open up the relationship with polyamory for the first time. Those firsts are the perfect time to discuss and revisit personal and shared dating goals with your partner. They may even be an appropriate time to explore relationship goals, too.

Relationship goals versus dating goals: what’s the difference? 

When discussing relationship goals versus dating goals with a partner or someone you’re dating, it’s best to walk into the conversation knowing the difference between the two. Relationship goals refer to goals that you and your partner have, whether related to family planning, marriage, or travel. 

Dating goals are more personal, as they refer to the goals you set for yourself when you are looking for a potential partner. In the queer world, polyamory seems to be more and more popular, so dating goals can still very much be an appropriate topic to discuss with one or more partners. 

Have you ever heard of the relationship tip: “Never stop dating!” It’s based on this idea that even long-term committed relationships should still find the time to enjoy each other’s company and carve out time for special experiences together, like dating! So yes, even monogamous relationships can benefit from discussing dating goals to keep the relationship feeling fresh and new! 

Tips for discussing dating goals

Just because you have a goal does not mean your partner will share it to the same degree. Of course, it’s important to have shared goals and values, but you are individual people, after all, so it’s very normal to have differences. Keep this in mind when discussing your goals with your dates and partners. 

Researchers and Doctors Timothy Worley, Rachel Vanderbilt, and Esther Liu conducted a study where they found that couples often distorted the degree of importance their partner thought of a goal.

As in, “the more important a goal was to oneself, the more one inferred it was important to the partner. “

Researchers and Doctors Timothy Worley, Rachel Vanderbilt, and Esther Liu

This is further evidence that clear communication about goals will help reset expectations and reduce conflict! 

If you ask us, “What are the three goals in a relationship?” The answer would be as cliché as it is simple: 1. respect for each other, 2. safety above all, and 3. communication, communication, communication!

Two women sit opposite each other on swings at a park. They may be discussing their dating or relationship goals.

Final thoughts on mindful dating 

There’s a good reason why you read this article and sought out this resource: you don’t want to make mistakes or waste your time when dating. That’s completely understandable, considering dating burnout is real, and it’s been made even more difficult because of the pandemic and social media. 

Clear-cut goals can be incredibly helpful but can also be limiting. Use them as guidelines, but don’t cut yourself off from potentially amazing experiences because of them. Practicing flexibility and open-mindedness while being goal-oriented is possible – it’s just a balancing act

At some point, you’ll know exactly what you want, which is always subject to change, and your dating goals will be clear to you and everyone you go on a date with. And then you’ll find yourself swiping against people who have “figuring out my dating goals” on their profile. Oh, how the tables will have turned! 

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Rocio Sanchez (any pronouns) is a brand strategist and SEO copywriter who dedicates themself to LGBT+ and POC-led business through digital marketing strategies. Born and raised a Dominican New Yorker, and now based in Amsterdam, they have their own digital marketing agency called Marketing by Rocio. They also host a queer fashion podcast called Transition of Style, based partly on their graduate master’s thesis completed in Paris, where they lived for four years.

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