raditional dating is long gone, but that doesn’t mean you should give up trying to navigate this new adult dating world. There’s still a lot of love to be found, and we think we know how to help you find it.

We’ve done our best to narrow adult dating down to seven (relatively) easy steps.

1. Go On Real Dates

Woman gently touches the chest of her date as they sit at a bar in a restaurant.
Going out to dinner is a perfect example of a real date where you can talk to someone and get to know them.

Yes, we know we just said traditional dating is gone, but that doesn’t mean that every aspect traditional dating has to go too.

Traditional dates are timeless, and they’re a lot more enjoyable than sitting in someone’s bed and watching Netflix. Netflix and chill definitely has its place, but if you want to amp up your dating to the adult level, you need to start by amping up your dates. Think eating dinner out, going to the drive-in, watching the sunset, etc.

At first it may seem like too much planning or too much money has to go into these real dates, which isn’t exactly untrue, but the point is that it won’t be a waste of time or money. You want to have a genuinely good time with someone, and in order to do that, you need to put in the extra work of planning a real date.

2. Have Deep Conversations

Dating is really all about getting to know someone, and one of the best ways to get to know someone is by having meaningful conversations with them.

Your first instinct may be to keep things light and surface level, but that won’t get you very far and we guarantee your partner can tell that you’re not revealing your truest self when you talk to them.

Have conversations about your goals in the future, what you want in a partner, your beliefs, etc.

These topics might come up organically, but if they don’t, don’t be afraid to ask questions you want to know the answer to. If there’s something you want to know about someone, you’re going to ask them eventually, so don’t be hesitant. Ask away!

3. Date Exclusively

Black and white image of a couple smiling at each other as they join hands on the sidewalk.
Adults date with an endgame in mind, and for many people that endgame is an exclusive relationship.

One of the biggest changes from traditional dating to adult dating now is the constant wondering about exclusivity. You find yourself asking questions like: Is the person I’m dating seeing other people? Do I want to continue seeing other people and keep my options open? Is it too intense or stressful to date exclusively?

Dating as an adult means dating with an endgame in mind, and for many people that endgame is being in an exclusive relationship whether it be marriage, engagement, etc.

Because many adults date with this objective, you will probably find that most adults want an exclusive relationship. Whether you want that as well is obviously up to you, but you need to understand that most people are looking to date exclusively and either want that for yourself or understand if the person you’re seeing wants to find someone else who is willing to be exclusive with them and help them move towards their endgame.

4. Be Picky

We’ve been taught that being picky is bad when it comes to food, but we shouldn’t let this message translate over to our dating life.

You should be picky when you’re dating as an adult. Think about it, you want to find someone to spend the rest of your life with, and you probably have some idea what that person is going to be like. So don’t date a bunch of people who don’t even remotely resemble that person.

Dating around while you’re young can be fun, and it can help you figure out what kind of person you’re looking for. But as an adult, you don’t have the time or energy to entertain all kinds of people.

Trust yourself. You know what you like. Be picky with who you date and don’t waste your time or theirs.

5. Meet the Family

Family gathers around a kitchen island piled high with food.
Meeting your partner’s family will give you the opportunity to see if you fit in well with them and can see yourself getting along with them well into the future.

Whether you like it or not, there’s a lot of other people that come with the person you’re dating. You should meet them and figure out if these are people you are willing to have in your life too.

Although it’s not absolutely necessary that you get along with your partner’s family, it makes things a lot easier and may make your life with your partner more enjoyable. Think about it, would you rather have a mother-in-law who hates you, or a brother-in-law you get drinks with even when your significant other isn’t around?

Dating as an adult means meeting the other people that come with your person: their parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. and seeing if you can be a part of their family or if they can be a part of yours.

6. Understand You Don’t Need Constant Contact

When you were younger, you probably sent the person you were dating multiple texts in a frenzy if they didn’t respond to one of your texts within the hour. And if you were on the verge of losing your snapchat streak, you thought your relationship was on the line. But constant contact with the person you’re dating is an unrealistic expectation, especially when you’re an adult.

Adults don’t have time for constant contact. They have other obligations like jobs, people they’re responsible for, even time devoted to self-care or hanging out with friends.

Adults also understand that there isn’t a need to constantly talk to the person they’re dating. They know their significant other will answer them when they get the chance, and that they will keep them updated on all of the important things.

Contact with your partner throughout the day is important, but constant contact will leave you both feeling strained.

7. “Your problems are my problems, too.”

Couple's joined hands rest on their laps as they sit.
When dating as an adult, you view your partner’s problems as your own and you tackle them together.

When you date as an adult, you need to anticipate the adult problems that may arise and be ready to tackle them - whether these problems are yours or your partner’s.

There’s going to be student loans to pay off, health problems, job struggles, and so much more.

Dating as an adult means you are ready to handle these problems not just for yourself, but for your partner as well. You are a team, and teams work together.

It’s also the case that each partner will not be able to give 50% every time. Sometimes one partner has to pull more weight, and the effort is split 75%/25%. But it all evens out over time, or at least it should.

The Takeaway

Essentially, there are seven easy steps to take to start dating like an adult.

In order to date as an adult you should:

  • Go on real dates, like taking your partner out to their favorite restaurant
  • Have deep conversations to learn more about the person you’re dating
  • Be ready to date exclusively because adults are looking for serious relationships with a future
  • Be picky with who you choose to date
  • Meet your partner’s family to see if you fit in well with them
  • Understand that you don’t need to have constant contact with your partner in order to trust them or learn updates about their day
  • Take on your partner’s problems as your own

Honestly, many of these things will come naturally to you once you start dating in the adult world. You’ll want to go on fun dates with the person you’re seeing, and you’ll be excited to meet their family because you can’t wait to meet the people who raised the wonderful person you’re in love with.

But it is a big step moving from dating as a college student to dating as an adult, and there are many pros and cons to the different styles of dating. For example, although dating as a college student grants you more freedom for casual dating, dating as an adult means you get to go on nicer dates because you have more money to spend.

Adult dating is especially nice for the fact that a lot of people have the same goal: they want to find someone to spend the rest of their life with. This may excite or terrify you, but at least you have a good idea as to what other people’s intentions are.

Feel free to come back to these seven steps whenever you’re ready to take the leap into the world of dating as an adult. We promise it’s not as scary as it sounds.

Mar 5, 2021