Relationship 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Updated April 9, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Relationships can add a great deal of value to our lives, which is why many choose to prepare as best as they can before entering one — whether it’s romantic or platonic. All relationships generally require ongoing work and engagement, as well as communication as you work to integrate well into each other's lives. 

While there isn’t a universal guidebook to relationships, there are a few concepts that apply well in many people’s cases — which we’ve compiled for you below. 

In this article, we’re covering signs you’re ready for a relationship, different elements of dating culture and different types of relationships. We’ll also be offering scientifically supported insights to help you to get the most out of whatever relationship you find yourself in, whether it’s romantic or platonic.  

How do I know that I’m ready for a relationship?

Considering entering the dating pool?

You are comfortable with who you are and don’t feel that need anyone to complete you

Many people enter relationships because they seek completion from someone else. However, in many cases, no one else can complete your identity or role in your own life. It can be helpful to all members of the relationship if both parties are happy and content within themselves first, which can facilitate a healthier relationship experience. 

You know your worth and what you deserve

Once you’re comfortable with your identity and role in your own life, you may be more effectively able to implement boundaries. 

Knowing that you are totally worth the love and affection someone offers you can be a step towards being receptive to a healthy relationship.

Alone time doesn’t scare you

If you are perfectly okay with spending time with yourself, it may be a sign that you’re ready for deeper connections. You may have used your “quiet time” to meditate and focus on personal development or address any previous events or relationships that went unresolved. 

In either case, you may be more receptive to partnership and truly remain in the moment should the opportunity arise, as you’ve had time to be still within yourself and know yourself intimately. 

You acknowledge the element(s) that set you apart

When you realize who you are as a person, you also begin to identify your significance to yourself and others. This can be a useful tool to help set the pace of our lives and interpersonal relationships, potentially allowing you to be more vocal about what you will accept and your specific needs.  Potential partners may be drawn to this confidence and self-awareness. 

You may be more flexible

Once you’ve matured emotionally and mentally, you might begin to realize what’s important to you in a relationship. You may also be willing to be more flexible if you find a person that doesn’t match every element on your list, leaving room for personal development and growth.

Your last relationship no longer affects you

It can be important to give yourself time and space to heal before pursuing your next relationship. If you’ve moved on and no longer hold on to the resentment and animosity from the previous relationship, you may be in a strong place to begin a new one. Moving forward with clarity, peace and freedom from any old ties can help you to have a more healthful and fulfilling experience. 

Relationship 101: Understanding culture and dating etiquette

Understanding the major differences in dating etiquette and current culture can be a helpful way to start your relationship journey successfully. 

Embracing flexibility can be a helpful step as you work to master the different cultural norms for dating in your area of preference. Consider referencing the following list of general relationship preferences when considering or pursuing a relationship.

Be emotionally prepared

It’s may not be the strongest idea to pursue a relationship if you’re experiencing emotional or mental trauma on an ongoing basis. If you’re considering starting a relationship, consider taking time to assess if you’re emotionally ready for the effort a relationship may take. If you are experiencing hardship, consider reaching out for support from a licensed therapist or your support system. We are all generally capable of enjoying and offering love — and it can be even more fulfilling to do so from a place of health. 

Don’t be afraid to approach

If you find yourself interested in someone, consider being honest and letting them know. People may choose to refrain from approaching people that they are attracted to because of traditional standards or preconceived notions. Being brave and approaching the person respectfully can give you the assurance that you’re remaining true to yourself and your feelings, while doing your best to be considerate of theirs.

Be yourself

Remaining aligned with your values, goals and needs can be a critical step to maintaining and starting a healthy relationship experience. You are with yourself always — and taking the time to ensure this is the right step for you can lead to a higher level or satisfaction within your relationship. 

Remain aware of communication differences

Some people may not want to reach out to someone they’ve gone out with first. They may also feel more comfortable reaching out. Your wants and needs matter equally in this situation — however, you may feel less nervous if you remain aware of and open to different levels and preferences of communication. Whether the person you went out with chooses to reach out first or not, you always have the option to speak your mind and connect with them after your first date. 

Consider taking time for yourself

It can be easy to prioritize and emphasize a relationship’s importance in your daily rhythms. However, you might consider taking time for yourself to ensure that you remain rooted in your relationships with your family and friends, remaining aware of your own needs. Having supportive friends around you to help strengthen your foundation outside of the relationship you’re trying to build can be a resource to you in any season, whether you’re currently single or you’re approaching the dating pool. If you’re looking for extra support, our guide for making friends might be a helpful resource.

Considering entering the dating pool?

What are the different relationship styles?

Relationships can take many forms, from casual dating to having a committed partner. What works for one person may not for the next — but all levels of attraction and connection are valid. Having an understanding of the spectrum of relationship types and styles can help you to better navigate your dating experiences, and may help you remain more receptive to different relationship nuances.

While not an exhaustive list, here are some common relationship terms present in today’s society:


This is generally defined as the practice of having one partner at a time, whether you are unmarried or married.


This can define the practice of having more than one partner at a time. There are many forms of non-monogamy, including open relationships and polyamory. There also may or may not be hierarchal structures within these relationships, such as having a primary partner and dating casually outside that relationship.


Dating is a term that can have many implications and definitions. To some, it can be casually going for dinner or activities with someone you are getting to know. For others, dating might mean the beginning of a serious relationship and involve a certain level of commitment. In either case, communication can be helpful to all parties in a given relationship, clarifying the boundaries and preferences of each person to help facilitate the healthiest situation possible. 

Marriage or a civil union

Married couples and those who are in a civil union have generally undergone a cultural or legal procedure to document their commitment to each other.  

How can online therapy support those interested in beginning a relationship? 

Entering the dating scene can feel overwhelming. After all, it can be a new experience to many — one that can be incredibly rewarding and high-stakes. With this range of possibilities can come feelings of nervousness, inadequacy, frustration or confusion. 

Online therapy can be a way to address and process these feelings more efficiently, allowing you to have the best and most healthful relationship experience possible. It is an available method of support that can allow you to speak with a therapist at any time through your smart device or app, which can be especially helpful if you find it difficult to make it to an in-person therapist in this season of life. 

Is online therapy effective? 

Many may wonder if online therapy is an effective way to support your emotional and mental health prior to your next relationship. 

A recent record from the Center for Healthcare Research suggests that it is comparably effective to in-person therapeutic intervention across a variety of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder. Additionally, it can be a more convenient, available, and, at times, affordable way of assuring help for many. 

These findings were gathered over a meta-analysis of over 40 separate scientific studies, in which over 1,000 clinical study participants were interviewed. 


Beginning dating can be exciting, overwhelming and new to many. Understanding the different types of relationships and safeguarding your interests first can help you to have a more healthful relationship experience. Online therapy can also be a useful resource to you as you start this chapter of your life. Regain can connect you with an online therapist in your area of need. 

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