Photo of two people laying together in the grass as they look at each other.

Whether you’re just dipping your toes in the water or looking for a long-term relationship, here are a few dating tips you should know.


1) Figure out what you really want

To get the most out of your dating experience, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. For some people this may look like casual dating, while others may desire a committed relationship.

Ask yourself these questions to get started:

  • Are you more interested in something brief and casual, casual but consistent or something more serious?
  • Is physical attraction or companionship more important to you?
  • Do you want to date someone with similar political views, aspirations, lifestyle, etc.?
  • What does your ideal dating scenario or relationship look like? 

If you're using dating apps, these questions can also help you tailor your profile and create meaningful filters. For instance, if you’re looking for something casual, you may want to consider filtering out people who are looking for a relationship or vice versa. Using these types of features and being honest about what you want allows you to set clear expectations and match with people who want similar things.

It’s also okay if you’re not looking to date or hookup. Sometimes, it’s nice to focus on friendships instead. If this sounds like you, check out these tips for making friends on campus.


2) Communicate and uphold your boundaries

Boundaries represent the limits, rules or expectations that we set in order to protect our own well-being. Setting healthy boundaries can help us navigate relationships in a more positive way and avoid feelings of anger, resentment or burnout.

Communicating our boundaries is an important part of any relationship, especially if we plan to be intimate with someone. Before you hop on your favorite app, agree to meet up or engage in sexual activities, think through some potential relationship boundaries.

Here are a few examples to consider:

  • What are you comfortable with on a first date (e.g. hand-holding, hugging, kissing, sex, etc.)?
  • Are you comfortable dating someone who may be seeing other people at the same time?
  • How do you feel about public displays of affection?
  • How do you feel about close friendships outside of the relationship (e.g. other genders, same gender, etc.)?
  • Do you want to get to know someone before meeting up or see them right away?
  • How do you feel about going out with someone who has previously dated a friend or acquaintance of yours?

A good way to identify boundaries is to review any ‘red flags’. For instance, is it a red flag if your date insists on hooking up the first time you meet or if they use substances more than you’re comfortable with? Remember to communicate these types of boundaries with potential partners so you’re both on the same page.

Most importantly, be honest about your expectations, and trust your gut. If someone dismisses your boundaries or pushes you to do something you’re not comfortable with, they’re probably not a good fit. 


3) Embrace authenticity and connection

All of us are hardwired to seek out clarity, safety and stability in our relationships. However, modern dating culture often emphasizes more casual interactions and low accountability. We may feel pressured to play it cool, be chill, minimize what we want/need or avoid committing too early. Ultimately, these dating norms and expectations can cause increased anxiety and uncertainty in our relationships.

One way to combat this is to intentionally embrace authenticity and connection. Allow your true self to shine through, whether you’re dating online or in person. If you prefer apps, be sure to build a profile that reflects who you really are. Don’t be afraid to showcase your personality through your photos, questionnaires or your bio. Staying true to your authentic self can also help you be more open to making meaningful connections. Seek out people who have shared interests, appreciate your quirks and allow you to be yourself. It’s also important to remember that you can take your time. Dating is a slow dance. Try to enjoy it, and use it as an opportunity to get to know other people (and yourself).

 

Resources

While relationships may feel easy and great, they can also be rocky or challenging. There are resources available for relationship support, self-exploration and more.

Let’s Talk

Let’s Talk is a free service where CU Boulder students can meet for an informal, brief and confidential consultation with a CAPS counselor. Let’s Talk counselors can help provide insight, solutions and information about additional resources. Students commonly visit with concerns about stress, sadness, worry, relationships, academic performance, family problems and financial struggles.

Group therapy

CAPS offers process groups that provide a supportive space for students to deepen self-understanding and explore ways of relating more comfortably to others. This group is also designed to help students learn to deal with feelings of depression and anxiety, family dynamics and other personal concerns.

Office of Victim Assistance (OVA)

OVA provides free, confidential trauma-focused counseling, advocacy, information and referrals for all CU community members, including undergrad and graduate students, staff and faculty. They specialize in addressing current and past life-disruptive events, including but not limited to, crime, trauma, sexual assault, partner abuse, experiences of bias, harassment, discrimination, assault, other abuse  and violence.

Peer Wellness Coaching

Peer wellness coaches are trained students who can help their fellow Buffs navigate their time at CU. They are here to help students set and achieve their goals related to academic success, relationships, time management, personal wellness and more.

Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (SCCR)

SCCR offers free conflict coaching and other resources for working through disagreements. They’re here to help students build stronger relationships with friends, roommates, professors and other people in your life.

Stalking

While stalking often is directed at someone from a previous intimate relationship, it can also occur between former friends, roommates or someone the person has never met before, including matches from dating apps. Learn how to identify stalking behaviors and connect with resources.

Intimate partner abuse

Intimate partner abuse occurs in relationships that are or have been intimate. Abuse can take many forms, including verbal, emotional, physical, psychological, sexual, financial or reproductive abuse. Learn how to identify intimate partner abuse and connect with resources or learn the difference between healthy and abusive behaviors in a relationship.

Sexual assault

Sexual violence and abuse can have lasting impacts on individuals and communities. Learn about sexual assault, consent and resources available for students.