Who doesn’t love a summer fling? Finding a romantic partner — whether for the long or short term — is an exciting experience. Your stomach may start flipping in anticipation. And your heart might start beating rapidly. These feel-good signs are all part of having fun and dating.
Of course, while summer is a time to relax, you shouldn’t be carefree when it comes to your dating life. Even when you’re on cloud nine, you’ll still need to be prepared to put your guard up in some instances. This is mostly true if you’re using dating apps. Remember, everyone portrays themselves in the best light on these apps, so you don’t really know what you’re getting into.
This isn’t to be the burden of bad news. There’s nothing wrong with having a summer full of fun and romance. But it’s important that you keep it realistic and harmless, too. Need some pointers? Keep reading for four ways to protect yourself while dating this summer.
1. Be Open About Your Sexual Health
While this first tip may be on the serious side, it’s arguably the most important. Talking about your sexual health doesn’t need to come up in the first few minutes of a date. However, if you think the night will end up in the bedroom, it’s better to bring it up early on. Be sure to tell your date if you are seeing other people. They deserve to know if you’re putting them at risk for a potential sexually transmitted disease, or STI.
If you or your romantic fling is concerned about these transmissions, it’s always better to be safe. At–home STI testing is readily available, and a convenient option for controlling your health and well-being. If your results confirm that you have an STI, remember you are not alone. STIs are very common, so there is no reason for you to feel ashamed or embarrassed. Make an scheduled time with a healthcare provider to start treatment for your condition.
2. Say “No” When Your Gut Tells You To
Do you know that inkling you get when your intuition is telling you the situation you’re in is uncomfortable? You may feel a little queasy or start to sweat. Maybe you lose your words or clam up. Everyone has a different threshold of comfort. If you find yourself in a sticky state or feeling uneasy, don’t just go along with it.
Saying “no” is easier said than done, but in this case, practice can make it perfect. Armor yourself with a phrase you can use in a problematic situation. This could be as simple as, “I’m not comfortable with how fast we’re moving.” Or you might try something more direct like, “Please don’t touch me there.” Being clear and concise with your words means there is no room for misinterpretation.
3. Continue to Focus on Your Needs
A new relationship, especially a summer rendezvous, can quickly turn into an all-consuming affair. A dinner date turns into a sleepover, and before you know it, you’re all but living in their apartment. While there is nothing wrong with falling in love quickly, it can be detrimental to your mental health. You might even know a friend who suddenly became unavailable when they began dating someone new. While this is a natural tendency of any new relationship, it’s important to make time to focus on yourself, too.
Set aside time in your schedule for things that are non-negotiable. This could be a workout class that you attend weekly or meeting up with a friend for a post-work walk. Tell your partner you desire to be with them but also think some space is important. If they care for you, they should understand your point of view. They may even welcome the idea so they can participate in things that bring them joy.
4. Be Smart
Lastly, be smart. Dating should be fun, but don’t let your heart trick your brain. In today’s socially-driven world, more and more information is leaked unknowingly. People that seem innocent can scam you on a date without you even knowing. This isn’t intended to scare you but to keep you aware of potential threats. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you want to quickly test yourself, you can use almost any emergency room STD testing available near you. Better to be sure then to have regrets!
Before going on a first date, it’s generally a good idea to let one of your friends know. Tell them where you are meeting, and always plan to meet in a public location such as a restaurant. Let your friend know you’ll text them regardless of how well the date is going. Also, ensure your friend knows when they should be concerned about your safety. You don’t want to frighten them for no reason.
Summer lovin’ is a great feeling. But whether you are dating casually or looking for something a little more serious, keep these tips in mind. Being upfront about your wants and desires and trusting your gut can make you feel more confident in your relationship. If your partner is just as smitten as you are, they will understand where you’re coming from. At the end of the day, protecting yourself and your heart will keep you happy long after summer ends.