How do you choose someone to talk to about being inexperienced with dating?
The Love Not Anger survey found that 80% of respondents had talked to a friend about their dating difficulties. (See page 56 of the survey report.) About half of the friends were helpful, and very few were harmful to talk to. If you’ve got a friend who is likely to be kind, respectful and encouraging, try sharing your concerns.
Maybe you don’t have a suitable friend to talk to. Some inexperienced people are socially isolated, with few or no friends. Maybe you have one friend but you’re romantically interested in them, so it would be awkward to ask them to boost your dating confidence! Maybe you’ve got friends who make jokes or comments indicating that they would be judgemental or unsupportive of your reality.
If your situation is complex, it can help to talk to someone with more knowledge and experience about relationships – probably someone older than you. But who could provide that mentorship? Our survey found 54% had talked to a family member, which was rarely helpful and sometimes harmful. A few people (9%) had talked to teachers, coaches and religious leaders, but they were usually not helpful, and often harmful. If you are looking for a mature mentor, be careful to confide in someone who is not judgemental, does not have expectations for how you lead your life, and does not have power over you.
In the survey, 47% had spoken to a therapist or counsellor. About half of them found it helpful and very few found it harmful. Counsellors offer a neutral space to share your thoughts and feelings confidentially. They are trained to help people develop the emotional “muscles” needed for successful dating and happy relationships. That is why we recommend that anyone who has been struggling with dating for a long time go to a psychotherapist or other counsellor to understand what’s going on and to better connect with other people. Look for a counsellor who understands and respects your inexperience or dating difficulties. It’s worth it.