I Discovered How To Make Dating Fun Again: Keep Your Expectations Low

I recently discovered how valuable keeping your expectations low can be when it comes to dating. Not only does it make you feel more confident and relaxed, but it also prevents you from getting disappointed down the road. Here’s how I do it.

  1. I make sure I don’t go in with the idea that my date “owes” me something. I used to have these high expectations for the guys I date, mainly due to the advice my mom used to give me. If he didn’t do all the things that guys are “supposed” to do on dates like pull out my chair, open the door, and offer to pay then he wasn’t worth it. As soon as I dropped those expectations, I became a lot more chill about my dating life (and started having a much better time doing it).
  2. I don’t expect every guy I go out with to be my soulmate. The chances of swiping right on your soulmate are almost nil. If there truly is one person out there for everyone then I doubt that they would be living in a 20-mile radius of my house. Instead, I like to think that there’s a whole group of people out there who are sort of like my “soul tribe,” so to speak. Probably about 1 in 100 people could have soulmate potential so I try to look at it as a sliding scale rather than dismissing anyone outright.
  3. I say no to dinner on the first date. If a guy asks me out for a full sit-down dinner as a first date, I always say no because the expectations get too high! He’s gonna drop $80+ on a single night and it might not even go anywhere. It’s better to just go for a drink and split the bill. Don’t get too excited—keep expectations low. 
  4. I realized that I’m not perfect and neither is anyone else. The fact of the matter is that there’s no such thing as a “perfect date” or a “perfect night” or a “perfect person.” Even if someone seems flawless at first, it’s only a matter of time before their true colors come through. I always go in assuming that the guy is just as messed up as I am and guess what—they usually are. 
  5. All I really want is a good guy who’s nice to me—anything else is a bonus. I used to have a whole laundry list of attributes I want in a guy but these days I just have one: that he’s a good person. That tends to trump whatever hair color or physical quality I think is important at the time.
  6. When I expect the worst, it’s like a nice surprise when it works out. One of the best reasons to keep your expectations low is that when things are actually going well, it’s really exciting. I tend to create these detailed scenarios in my head of how something should go and when it doesn’t match it exactly, I get this little pang of disappointment. Trust me, go in thinking that the date is gonna be a bust and see how pleasantly surprised you end up when it’s actually fun.  
  7. I’ve realized that every guy has a fatal flaw. I’ve stopped putting guys on pedestals which isn’t easy to do, especially since I use dating apps. You have this nice, curated profile that’s perfectly written with precisely edited photos—of course you’re gonna think they’re a saint sent down from heaven just for you. The truth is that’s only what they want you to see and I always remember that.  
  8. I’ve given up on trying to control or fix the other person. It’s true that most guys I date will never be my perfect person, but I’d rather somehow be OK with that than stress and try to make them match the “dream guy” in my head. That’s not possible and would probably be disappointing in the end anyway.
  9. I try to wipe the slate clean before dating someone new and not put pressure on them to take the place of my ex. Dating someone immediately after a breakup can get a little awkward, which is why I usually don’t do it. If I do, I make sure I’ve forgiven my ex or resolved any leftover feelings so I can avoid transferring unresolved ones onto another innocent guy.
  10. If I keep my expectations low then I’ll be happier, end of story. Dating is already hard enough as it is and it’s so out of your control. Might as well prepare yourself for the worst and then be surprised when it works out because it’s really such a crapshoot sometimes—at least that’s my approach.
Jennifer is a playwright, dancer, and theatre nerd living in the big city of Toronto, Canada. She studied Creative Writing at Concordia University and works as a lifestyle writer who focuses on Health, B2B, Tech, Psychology, Science, Food Trends and Millennial Life. She's also a coreographer, playwright, and lyricist, with choreography credits for McMaster University’s “Spring Awakening,” “Roxanne” for the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and “The Beaver Den” for The LOT, among others.

You can see more of her work on her Contently page and follow her on Instagram @jenniferenchin.