Want to Start Dating in 2017? Here's How to Get Back in the Game

Navigating the choppy waters of an ever-thinning dating pool requires effort—effort that still does not guarantee you a decent date. Should you agree to go on a date with Sam, 29, from Brooklyn, you could very well waste a perfectly good Thursday night exchanging terse pleasantries over overpriced drinks with a complete stranger. This risk is the first of many suitable reasons not to go on a date, with the second being the sheer fact that you'd rather do literally anything else. There's a new episode of Shameless on TV; your block of cheese is about to go bad; you have to walk your dog—the list of very real excuses goes on. In many ways, it feels like the risk of dating outweighs the potential reward, especially when you have a one-character bio comprising a taco emoji to go off of.

When the holidays roll around, however, you may find yourself wishing you'd said yes to that casual drink or dinner date—even if for admittedly old-fashioned reasons. Societal pressures aside, dating can teach you a lot about yourself that Netflix bingeing can't—even if the date goes badly. Not only will you stare true, unflinching awkwardness in the eye and live to tell the tale, but you'll also set your standards, master the art of small talk, and further explore your likes and dislikes in a partner. So whether you love being single or are anxiously awaiting your life partner, there are many reasons to date that don't involve romance. Here are five healthy dating resolutions to adopt in the year 2017:

Put Yourself Out There

With a certain level of vulnerability involved, putting your true self out there can be one of the most difficult parts of dating, especially if your last relationship ended badly. That being said, it can also be one of the most rewarding parts in the long run.

"Being vulnerable in a relationship oftentimes means being genuine, even if it exposes you for potential hurts. But the more separate you are from your feelings, the easier it is to miss if you're happy, if you like the person, if there are red flags you should be seeing, or if you just aren't compatible," says dating and life coach Gabrielle Loehr. "Putting yourself out there definitely makes you feel vulnerable, but it also makes you stronger emotionally and helps you learn how to be more present."

Try a New App

You're literally holding the potential for love and human connection in the palm of your hand at any given moment. For that reason, turning over a new leaf in your dating life can be as simple as downloading a new app and giving it a legitimate shot. At the very least, dating apps force you to meet new people, however virtually, and open yourself up to the idea of dating or a relationship. What's more, you're not investing much and therefore don't have a lot to lose if things don't work out in your favor. View this as the first big step toward putting yourself out there.

Stop Ghosting

Closely related to the self-serving act of using apps solely to amass a collection of matches, ghosting is highly unproductive for all parties involved. While I reluctantly admit that I've ghosted before, I can confidently say that I've never once felt good about it afterward. Not only does ghosting leave people completely in the dark as to what went wrong in the budding relationship, but it also welcomes insecurity into a dating landscape already wrought with anxiety.

"The alternative to ghosting is so damn simple: Just send a text," writes Mic. "Better yet, send a formulaic text, a fill-in-the-blank message you can reuse." Something as simple as Hey, I had a really good time on [insert date], but I don't see this going anywhere romantic is better than the alternative.

Go on That Second Date

This dating rule of thumb forces you to look beyond your often misguided first impressions and actually get to know someone. When you remove first-date jitters from the equation, you may actually connect with someone that you had initially cast aside.

"If I went out with a girl and the date felt like it was a six [out of 10], normally I wouldn't have gone on a second date," writes comedian Aziz Ansari in his best-selling book, Modern Romance. "What I [eventually] found is that a first date that was a six was usually an eight on the second date. I knew the person better, and we kept building a good rapport together. We'd develop more inside jokes and just generally get along better because we were familiar."

What's more, first dates are nerve-racking. Give your date the same benefit of the doubt that you'd give yourself, and chalk up any awkwardness to jitters.

Do It for Yourself

As I previously mentioned, dating isn't just about meeting the person of your dreams or finding your soul's counterpoint in another. It's also about building your self-confidence, learning to embrace vulnerability, and amassing the kind of life experiences that add texture and depth to your character. In the immortal words of Girls' Hannah Horvath, "Do it for the story." At the very least, a stereotypically bad date makes for an entertaining story, assuming nothing illegal is involved.

Most importantly, remember that dating is supposed to be fun, not a race to the end of the aisle. View dating as a way to learn more about yourself, and try to meet some cool and exciting people along the way.

What are your dating resolutions for 2017? Share your thoughts below!