5 Dating Tips We Learned From 5 Empowered Women That We Wish We Knew Sooner

When I think about all the mistakes I made in the dating scene when I was younger, I... immediately force myself to think about something else. Otherwise, I spiral down into a rabbit hole of all the embarrassing things I said and did, and it's not pretty. But the ugly truth that I tell myself whenever I have one of those episodes (so, like, every five hours) is that I can't change all the dumb dating habits I had in the past. However, I can take those mistakes and package them into nice, little dating tips for women to tell myself, my friends, and probably anyone who will listen, so we can all move forward and take back control of our dating lives. And thankfully, in addition to the dating lessons I've learned from my own experiences, I've collected a bunch of other solid tips from other amazing women along the way.

On Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, Tinder and Elite Daily hosted the first of the #TinderSparked dinner series, during which a group of badass, empowered women came together to chat about modern dating and the experiences we have in the dating world. And luckily for all of us, these women shared some powerful dating advice. Seriously, you'll want to remember these.

1. Don't Change Who You Are

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According to sex educator Eileen Kelly, "staying true to yourself" is incredibly important when dating, especially when you're young and still getting a feel for your own identity. "Don’t bend for others," she tells Elite Daily. "I think that’s something you learn as you grow older."

I can't even count the number of times I told people I was crushing on that I liked the same insane things they liked, just so I could feign having something in common with them. Seriously, I could not give a rat's ass about Yu-Gi-Oh!, golf, or white-water rafting. (Sorry to anyone who is very passionate about Yu-Gi-Oh!, golf, or white-water rafting.) But the truth is, when you do bend for the people you're dating, you present that person with an inauthentic view of who you are. If you're not careful, you'll feel like you have to keep bending for this person, and if you bend too much, you'll eventually break.

2. The Person You Date Should Be A Happy Addition To Your Life

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When we're young and trying so hard to achieve the picture-perfect romance we see in every single mediocre rom-com out there, it usually turns out a lot less perfect and a lot more "trying to shove a puzzle piece into a spot where it doesn't fit."

"You should be able to live your normal life without any problems when you’re dating," says drag comedienne and writer Miz Cracker. "You should be able to do your job. You should be able to see your friends [and] be able to talk to your family and explore your hobbies." In other words, the person you're dating shouldn't ruin the flow of every other area of your life. Instead, this person you let into your life "should add something." And that something should, first and foremost, make you happy.

3. Don't Judge Yourself So Harshly

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Instead of waking up every day and comparing yourself and your body to literally everyone around you — all of whom are very, very different from you, mind you — embrace your body and your traits as they are and work with what you have. "Wake up and look f*cking good today and feel good about it," says comedian Michelle Collins. "Don’t question your body."

It's utterly exhausting to constantly think about what could be better about your body and to compare your uniquely changing and evolving human shell to the uniquely changing and evolving human shells of everyone else. If the person you're dating or crushing on makes you feel like you have to question your appearance, take that negativity and immediately toss it out of your life. You don't need it.

4. Don't Let Someone Else Dictate Your Self-Worth

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Whether you're just beginning to date or a seasoned pro going on date number eight this week, it's crucial to "be [yourself] and own who [you are]" and to "know [your] worth," says comedian and writer Sam Jones.

By altering yourself or your personality for someone you're dating, you're inadvertently allowing them some amount of control over your personality and how you see yourself — two things another person should have no control over. In this case, you may begin to feel like your own interests and your authentic personality (you know, how you are when you're alone in your bed, eating Oreos, and watching your 18th Netflix episode) aren't enough. (Spoiler alert: They are enough.) You must remember that the only opinion of yourself that matters is yours.

5. Save Your Energy For Someone Who's Worth It

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No matter how old you are, dating is a tough break sometimes, and it's easy to feel jaded. (It's kind of like when you start watching a new show that you actually really hate, but you end up finishing it anyway because you keep thinking it'll get better. No? Just me?)

But that's why an incredibly important piece of dating advice is to save your energy, love, and positivity for someone who's worth it — meaning someone who pours that same energy, love, and positivity back into you. "At this point, I want someone to prove to me that they think I’m worth it and that they’re worth it," says Lane Moore, comedian and creator of the comedy show Tinder Live.

When you're letting someone new into your life, the power should always be in your hands, and Tinder is hoping to keep it that way. With their new Menprovement Initiative, in collaboration with comedian Whitney Cummings, Tinder is celebrating women in a fun, real way with the introduction of Tinder Reactions.The reactions feature varying animations — some of which are only available to women — you can send to a match to let them know how you really feel about what they're saying, whether that's good or bad.

Remember, when it comes to modern dating, especially as a woman, you should never feel pressured to put up with anything that makes you feel less than 100 percent confident about yourself. Know your worth, embrace who you are, and only let someone in if they're a positive, welcomed addition to your life.