Lauren Levine
Updated Mar 31, 2015 @ 3:37 pm

Dating is be both an art and a science. You have to craft the perfect text messages (art). If you’re using a dating site, you have to rely on the platform’s algorithms to help you sift through a seemingly endless sea of swipe-lefts to find the hidden gems (science). The process requires a sense of humor, a lot of patience, and the ability to stay positive, even when the whole thing feels like a part-time job. Or an unpaid internship. If you’re out there dating, I salute you. Know that I am with you.

Indeed, through my dating journey I’ve been hit with some cold, hard truths and they seem important to share with the sisterhood of the single. I’m leaving out some of the more obvious lessons here (like please, just do yourself a favor and ditch anyone who isn’t treating you with 10,000% respect) but I hope some of the more niche lessons I’ve learned can lighten your load and help ease some dating woes.

The relationship isn’t serious until you start referring to them by name (real name) in front of your friends.

If you’re still calling him “Starbucks guy,” or her “work-crush girl” it’s not for serious yet. When you start calling him “Brian” or her “Kate” (assuming those are their names) then things are getting a little more steady. My girl Carrie Bradshaw should have picked up on this one.

Speaking of goofy nicknames, don’t choose one that comes up all the time.

If you’re going to be referring to this new BAE by a silly nickname (you know, to your friends) don’t pick a nickname that is a regularly referenced in pop culture. If the whole thing ends up going down in flames “Blank Space” style, then you’ll have flashbacks of the doomed romance every time someone mentions said object. Trust me, it’s why I roll my eyes whenever I see a commercial for FitBit, even though I’m all about getting active during the day.

It doesn’t matter how much you WANT to like the person.

Unfortunately, you can’t fake chemistry. They’re smart, gainfully employed, and want to make plans with you more than an hour in advance, but things just aren’t sizzling. Try as you might, it ain’t gonna happen.

Sometimes it’s not you, it’s them.

Your online profile is great. You’re really making an effort to put yourself out there. You even agreed to get set up with your friend’s roommate’s friend. So why are you still single? It’s not you, it’s them! I promise! Yes, this sounds like cheesy advice someone tries to give you to make you feel better, but there’s truth to it. If you’re doing all of the right things and still not having much luck, don’t be too hard on yourself. Stop obsessing over what you’re doing wrong. It may have nothing to do with you and everything to do with outside circumstances.

But sometimes it actually is you and not them.

On the other hand, if you’re going on tons and tons of first dates with no repeat contenders, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy. Are you being too judgmental? Does it really matter if they’re taller than you? I know it feels like it does, but there are other traits that should take priority in the grand scheme of things. On the other hand, perhaps you can be more selective about who you agree to go out with in the first place so you’re not going on a bunch of first dates that you already know won’t yield second ones. On the other OTHER hand, maybe you need to give the person a shot at a second date even if the first one wasn’t fireworks-inducingly perfect, simply because we’re all human and get nervous and say dumb things.

Lastly but arguably most importantly: It truly doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about how and who you date.

You’re worried about whether your friends like them, or you’re listening to your mom tell you that you should give your friend who is truly JUST a friend a chance. It’s great to bounce ideas off of the people who know you best, but in the end they’re not the ones doing the dating for you. In order to be happy as you date, you have to be comfortable with your own approach. If you’re excited about someone, pursue it. If something feels weird to you about the situation, exit stage left.

[Image via Shutterstock]