One of the most exhilarating stages of a new relationship is the moment when your butterflies start to turn into something a little more serious. At the same time, this is also the stage when you might be guilty of overthinking every last move. Should I wait until tomorrow to text back? Why am I the only one initiating dates? What if they don’t feel the same way I do?
It’s true that these little things can have a big impact, especially when you’re starting to transition into real relationship territory. You want to keep things light while also setting the stage for a relationship with long-term potential.
Below are some of the little things that relationship experts say will create a strong base for a successful new relationship, so you can spend less time stressing and more time enjoying this exciting new development in your life.
Text back as quickly as you want
Are you guilty of waiting hours to text or call your date back, just so you can seem cool? Has that ever worked for anyone? When you’re starting to see someone new, don’t be afraid to text them back as soon as you see the message, therapist Jeff Guenther says. Guenther, who posts on TikTok as @therapyden, goes on to say that quick response times can “create a ton of security” right as the relationship is blooming.
Take turns making plans
When one person falls into the “planner” role, you could be setting up an unequal dynamic–one with unnecessary resentment on all ends. “If they initiated plans the first time, you can initiate the second time and so on, but don’t always be the person texting first, calling, and initiating plans,” says Dr. Kelly Campbell, a licensed psychologist and professor of psychology at California State University, San Bernardino who specialises in relationships. Campbell told Brides that your new partner might stop putting in effort if they get too accustomed to you doing all the work.
You’re interested in someone new, so step up and be interested in everything about them. This means asking questions about their thoughts, goals, and daily life. Another tip from Guenther is to remember small details about their day to ask about later, like a meeting they were nervous about or a movie they were looking forward to.
Curiosity also means you’re not fixated on an idealised version of someone, and instead that “you hold flexible mindsets about each other,” says Lindsey Antin, a therapist in Berkeley, Calif. Keep an open mind and try to see this new person for who they really are.
If you like them, tell them
Playing hard-to-get is vastly overrated. Don’t lovebomb someone, but “be open about how much you like spending time with them,” Guenther says. His ideas for little things that can go a long way include direct comments like, “I just had a lovely night with you,” or telling them they give you butterflies.
According to Dr. Campbell, it can be “illuminating” to mix things up early. Spice up the usual routine of first dates with these ideas that aren’t going to a bar. This way, you avoid getting stuck in a rut right at the start of something new.
Assume they like you back
Confidence is key. Guenther says to “stop scanning for reasons they might not be interested in you,” or else you’re sure to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t let your anxiety sabotage the relationship before it even really begins.
Be honest, and be yourself
Look, sometimes advice is corny for a good reason. “The one thing you should do at the start of every relationship is be who you are from day one,” relationship coach Chris Armstrong says in Bustle. “People often talk about the honeymoon phase and how quickly it fades away, but what they do not realise is that most of the fade is attributed to what I refer to as a ‘false start.’” In other words, focusing on making a “good impression” might end up being misleading.
I’m not saying you should lay all your trauma cards on the table right away, but be honest about your interests and imperfections. Don’t treat love like a job interview.
The gist with all these tips is that by being open and honest now, you can create a strong foundation for your relationship later on. If you’re going to sweat the small stuff, you might as well sweat to your advantage.