"I’ve learned to embrace my partner’s past and fantasies, rather than let that be something that drives an insecurity."
In Elite Daily’s Q&A series Everything I’ve Learned About Love (So Far), celebrities share their most heartfelt and heartbreaking lessons about dating, relationships, and breakups, and offer their best advice. This time, Nick Viall — a former Bachelor star who gives dating and relationship advice to over a million followers on Instagram, TikTok, and his podcast, The Viall Files — opens up about how he conquered his insecurities around love before meeting his girlfriend, Natalie Joy, and the biggest misconception Bachelor Nation has about his sex life.
What’s your best piece of dating advice?
We live in a time where, obviously, dating apps are popular. I’m very pro-dating apps, but they have their pitfalls. They’re visual platforms. They’re based on looks and that’s OK, right? But we have a tendency to over-prioritize looks. Attraction matters, but we can get too excited and build our own narrative of who someone might be without really getting to know them. And then, once we decide we like them without knowing them, we stop asking questions relative to the things we’re looking for, and we spend more time trying to impress this person and get validation from them. People make the mistake of trying to get people to like them, rather than focusing on who they like.
What's your best piece of breakup advice?
If you’re considering breaking up with someone, don’t make decisions based on fear — which a lot of people do. Like, “I’m afraid to be alone and I’m afraid I won’t find something better. I’m afraid I don’t deserve something better.” Or if you’re religious, you might be afraid God will judge you. Or you’re afraid to ruin the friend group. Whatever it is. You’ve got to trust your gut. I’m a big believer in trying to bet on yourself.
Just because you decide to leave a relationship doesn't guarantee you’re going to find something new in a week, or two weeks, or six months, or a year. It might take two or three years. And that’s OK. We get really impatient with our dating lives, and I get it. Rightfully so. But it takes time.
What's the most meaningful lesson you’ve learned from your current relationship?
Good things take time. I met her in 2019, when she lived in Georgia and I lived in LA. And whether it was her coming to LA, or us meeting in New York, or me going to Georgia, it was a very casual relationship for nine or 10 months. I certainly was dragging my feet. I was more cautious. I had a lot of reluctance and fears about committing to the relationship for a variety of reasons. I had been single for a long time, so it was harder for me to distinguish between something nice and casual and something I wanted to invest in.
There was a period of me being like, “I don’t know,” and her being like, “OK, well, bye.” Ultimately, I was just like, “She makes me happy, so I’m just going to invest in this.” We became a more official thing toward the end of last summer.
Just because someone's dragging their feet doesn't mean they're trying to play you or they don't take you seriously. It just might be that they have a lot of reluctance and fear. Is that person willing to have honest conversations with you about it? You just have to communicate. When I look back, I think she really handled that situation beautifully. It reaffirmed to me the importance of always having a healthy dialogue, because that’s how you avoid resentment.
What’s one underrated thing you love about your partner?
She’s all about positive energy. She’s very present and focused on brightening people’s days. I’m a cynic in the sense that I’m not looking to be negative, but I find honesty refreshing. Sometimes, I want to understand the pitfalls of a situation before I look at the good. On the flip side, she looks to the good in things first at the risk of missing the bad. I think that’s a really great quality. She helps me even out.
What's a fear you used to have about dating or relationships that you've overcome?
I think I used to give a lot of sh*ts about my partner's past, number count, sexual experiences, and things like that. I used to get things in my head, ruminate over them; I would be afraid of dreams they might have. And now, I don't think any of that matters at all, quite frankly. I’ve learned to embrace my partner’s past and fantasies, rather than let that be something that drives an insecurity.
I’ve experienced life, right? I have ex-girlfriends, I've been in relationships, I've been single. The past helps you learn. The best part of getting older is perspective — you realize so many things you care about when you’re younger don’t matter, because you’ve survived all those things. Now, it’s like, well, I’m not going to waste a ton of energy worrying about this, because even if it comes true, it’s actually not a big deal.
What's one misconception people might have about your love life?
I'm a very sex-positive person, and I talk about sex on my podcast, I talked about sex when I was on the show, I've dated around, but I think there's a perception that I've been more promiscuous in my life than I have been. Now that doesn't mean I haven't experienced life and sex and dating, but for anyone who thinks that I've just been out there, I'm a quality over quantity person. I’m not big on numbers. But if the subject ever comes up, I’ll say, “Let people guess.” They always guess way higher than I would think.
What does love mean to you?
It means you feel safe and that you can be your most authentic self. It doesn’t give you the right to be an a**hole all the time, like, “Oh, this is mean. You have to accept me for who I am.” But if you can be with someone and feel like you can just be yourself and talk about your insecurities and your first thought isn’t, “What are they going to think about me?” I think that’s love. That’s the kind of love that is sustainable. That’s the difference between love and lust.
It’s weird, I do some acting and I do a lot of silly things with my social media. And quite honestly, I find it to be very embarrassing. When I first started acting, there were only certain people I wanted to read lines with — other people I was in class with, or other actors. I didn’t want to do it with my friends. I was uncomfortable. But with Natalie, it’s so easy to do. I almost prefer to read lines with her, and try to be goofy and fun, because she never makes me feel judged. I feel like I can really be myself around her. And to me, that's love.