Have you ever gotten butterflies at the start of a new romantic relationship because you like the person so much you just don't want to mess it up? You're not alone in that new relationship anxiety. "A new relationship is full of potential, possibilities, and discovery—not only of our partners but of ourselves and our needs, wants, and desire," says dating and relationship expert Andrea Syrtash. And celebrity matchmaker Carmelia Ray agrees that this "honeymoon stage" is an important period in your life. "It's a special time to create unforgettable memories together and a time where many couples feel as if they are falling in love," she explains. But the new relationship anxiety and jitters you feel can definitely take away some of the carefree excitement and cause unnecessary pressure.
Meet the Expert
To make sure you don't accidentally sabotage your relationship, we asked both experts to divulge the biggest pieces of new relationship advice they give to their clients so they can actually enjoy this period of getting to know each other (and spend less time stressing). As Syrtash says: "Long-term relationships are work, but dating shouldn't feel like it."
With that in mind, here are the nine things to keep in mind when you're starting out with a new S.O.
Keep the Past in the Past
"A big mistake people make when dating someone new is to bring all of their fears, concerns, and past negative relationship experiences to their current relationship," says Ray. She explains that in the more than 26 years of speaking to singles, she's heard that they do not want to hear about their date's past relationships on first or second dates. She insists that you should be keeping your thoughts and conversations focused on the person you're currently dating and on getting to know them.
In a similar vein to oversharing about yourself, avoid interrogating your date about their past experiences. Aim for engaging, conversational dialogue that flows naturally instead of a scripted line of targeted questioning.
Don't Make Comparisons
It's easy to instantly start comparing your relationship or your S.O. to other relationships or partners, but it won't do you any good and it will upset your current partner, Ray says. She says to ask yourself these questions: Are you in the relationship to compete with someone else? Are you in this relationship to impress other people? Or are you in the relationship because you like the person you're dating?
Look at Actions More Than Words
"It doesn't matter if someone is talking about taking trips next year if he or she is unavailable now," says Syrtash. In this case, you want to make sure you're reading actions rather than believing every word that person says. On the flip side, she says when your partner introduces you to family and friends, chances are that this person sees you in their life for the long haul.
Be Vulnerable, Even if You're Afraid
"The thought of being vulnerable is a scary proposition for most people," admits Ray. She says that it's how you show your true self at the risk of being hurt. When you date someone new, showing this side can deepen your connection and build trust. "Vulnerability can be a gift to the person who's wanting to know you on a deeper level," she explains.
Show your vulnerability without feeling totally overwhelmed by sharing a personal story. It may sound overly simplistic, but it's a great first step in building an emotional connection.
Don't Embellish the Truth or Brag
"Bragging is a huge turn-off for both men and women," says Ray. "It's not necessary to feel the need to continually impress your partner, especially if they already like you." You can be proud of who you are without listing all of your life's accomplishments.
Stay in the Moment
Remind yourself that being in a new relationship is a time of discovery and curiosity (and a lot is going to be new all at once). "To alleviate pressure, remind yourself to stay present and open," says Syrtash. And this goes for being true to yourself and trusting your gut instinct. It doesn't matter if someone is perfect on paper if they end up not being the right person for you.
Refrain From Being Needy
"A little bit of jealousy can be considered cute and healthy," says Ray. "But making demands on your partner of their time and restricting them from doing things they were doing before you started dating is a red flag." The expert says that it's common for couples who are newly dating to spend a lot of their free time with each other and give up some of their usual time with friends and family. However, avoid constantly texting, calling, or making demands to see your S.O. because you'll stress them out and may cause them to peddle back.
Don't Give up Time With Family or Friends
Ray says that in a new relationship it's common for couples to drop some of their usual activities and cancel on friends to see their partner. "Remember that attraction is also created by the anticipation of seeing your partner and by creating some distance," says Ray. "When you always drop everything to be with your new partner, it may set the expectation that your previous commitments are secondary to who you're dating." Keep yourself busy and honor your plans with friends as you adjust your schedule in moderation.
Listen and Stay Curious
"Listening is a skill and a communication tool most people don't do very well," says Ray. When you give your partner your undivided attention, it allows them to feel both heard and appreciated. When you show curiosity about who they are and what they're up to, it not only indicates your interest in their life but makes them feel unique and special.