Imagine if you could time travel into the past and tell yourself anything: what would it be? A warning? A pep talk? A lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way?
We might not be able to time travel, but we can watch TikToks, which is a close second when you’re watching Renee Ariel. Her dating advice, self-love pep talks, and confidence-boosting reminders have given her viral success on TikTok as she shares her insights to thousands of followers through the eyes of someone who’s been there, done that.
The secret to her wisdom that thousands of people follow her for?
“I stand by it: single people give the best dating advice,” she shared on Ten Minute Talks with Meagan Lynn. “When someone’s in a relationship, they’ve got the rose-colored goggles on…the single people are the ones in the current dating scene, which is always changing. Dating culture today is different from what it was a year ago, two years ago; we’re kind of adjusting and adapting to new dating culture, especially during a pandemic, which just switches all the rules completely.”
It was when Renee was single and on her own in a brand new city that she delved into the world of relationship advice.
“When I first moved to Los Angeles, I didn’t have any friends or anyone to talk to so I started a blog. Initially it was a blog about moving to a new city and trying to make friends, to start a new life,” Renee said. “I realized what it kind of turned into was a relationship blog–and not just about romantic relationships, but any kind. Then slowly but surely I realized one thing that I kept revisiting that was always evergreen, that people always have something that they want advice on, is dating.”
Love yourself first
At the foundation of Renee’s advice for finding love is a clear message: you have to love yourself first. This means doing the work ahead of time to get in a healthy emotional state before entering a relationship.
“Something that’s really helped me and kind of changed the game was learning my attachment style,” she said in reference to the book Attached, which helps readers determine how they connect with others and their needs in a relationship. “I think you can learn so much about yourself through your attachment style and also figure out the work you need to do on yourself in order to better yourself and be in a healthy relationship.”
“A lot of the time we are attracted to things that are bad for us or toxic for us because of maybe how you were brought up or past relationships,” she continued. “I myself was in a very toxic relationship for a year and a half that I learned had a lot to do with the fact that I had an anxious attachment style, and so I was drawn to someone that always kept me on my toes, which I learned how damaging that is.”
Renee says learning her attachment style gave her the self-awareness and confidence to pursue healthier relationships. But being confident is easier said than done, especially once you’ve faced rejection. To build up confidence, Renee recommends finding things that make you feel good that you can do from home.
“Even if that means just putting on a mask and taking a bath, whatever it is that makes you feel confident and sexy and good in your own skin, that kind of helps,” she said. “I think with the pandemic, it’s very easy to become a shell of our past selves because we’re not doing all the things that make us us. So having those little reminders, watching videos with pep talks on TikTok, just anything to kind of build you up again in those times that you’re down.”
Renee also says surrounding yourself with loved ones who remind you who are is helpful.
“Communication is so important and we are lacking a lot of that right now, so it doesn’t matter how you’re getting it. Maybe you just need a Zoom call with a friend that lifts you up,” she said. “Just anything that you know will make you feel a little bit better.”
Beyond spending time with good friends, Renee says you have to become your own best friend.
“That one took me a long time to learn myself,” she shared. “I would say I’m a pretty good friend. I care for my friends. I always want to lift them up. I always want to give them the best advice and make sure they are with people that are deserving of them and that they’re treating themselves well. And then I’ll find myself in situations and I’m like, I treat my friends better than I’m treating myself.”
She says becoming your own best friend means giving yourself more grace and empathy.
“We are our own loved ones and we have to act accordingly. So for me, this looks like on the days that I’m feeling really anxious being forgiving of that. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes,” she said. “Sometimes we can be so overly critical of ourselves and have this mean voice in our heads towards us and it’s like, what am I doing? So just reframing that thought process and really taking more care and better care of yourself.”
Know your needs
While working on yourself, Renee says you should also know your absolute deal breakers before entering a relationship.
“I think a lot of the time we have these standards and we’re like, ‘I learned in this past relationship that I don’t like this,’ and then we’ll meet someone we like and they do that, and we’re like, ‘Man, I really liked them,’” she explained. “You have to find out what your non-negotiables are: what are things that you cannot deal with in a relationship? You need to write those things down, and if you meet somebody that has any of those qualities…don’t alter that. Stick to your guns.”
“You just have to look into what will make you feel the most secure in a relationship, and if someone is not able to meet those standards, it’s okay. That doesn’t mean they’re a bad person, it just means they’re probably not the person for you.”
One undervalued trait Renee says people should look for in a potential partner is consistency.
“A lot of the time we want to believe the sweetest moments from someone when they say everything we want to hear, when they do everything we’ve wanted them to do, but then when that doesn’t happen the day after that, or the day after that, we keep wanting to get back to that,” she said. “If they’re not consistently good to you, if they’re not consistently acting in a way that you would want a partner to act, that is not the person for you. Hot and cold does not mean that they’re into you as much as you want them to be.”
Renee says it’s important to remember when a relationship doesn’t work out that it’s not a reflection on who you are or your worth.
“It has nothing to do with us when we are the ones being rejected and has all to do with them and their preferences, our compatibility, what they’re going through,” she said. “We never know what’s really going on. They could have issues that we’re unaware of that also keep them from getting close to people. The options are endless for what it could be.”
When facing rejection, Renee says it’s also important to not question if you’re enough: smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, etc.
“I wish we would stop taking it that way,” she said. “You just have to look for someone who’s consistently invested in you and someone that shows up. And if they’re not doing those things, don’t take it personally. Just find someone who does.”
Just as important as consistency is balance. Renee says that while sometimes a relationship might require 80/20 effort if one partner is going through a hardship and can only give 20 percent effort, the majority of the relationship should be 50/50–especially at the beginning.
“I think it depends where you’re at in that commitment. If you are 10 years into a marriage and your husband is going through something and you are the one giving and giving for a while, that’s completely different than the guy that you dated for two months that got really busy and now he’s only texting you once a week,” she said. “The rule of thumb for me would always be someone that’s giving as much as I’m giving. And if they’re not meeting that, if they’re not matching your energy, that’s someone who’s not going to satisfy you long-term.”
Friends matter, too
For all the single people who aren’t in the market for a relationship, Renee says the necessary elements for a healthy relationship don’t just apply to romantic ones.
“I think of a lot of my advice goes for any kind of interpersonal relationship, because we can have toxic friendships just as much as we can have toxic relationships,” she said. “You want to be very careful with who you choose to surround yourself with because it will fully reflect on you and your confidence in how you’re feeling about yourself. If you’re surrounded by people that don’t lift you up and who make you feel bad and make you feel like you’re unlovable, it’s not good.”
Renee says as we get older and mature, it’s important to become more selective in our friendships.
“I know it’s hard, especially because I think when we start off in school, we’re only surrounded by so many people so we kind of pick and choose friends from there. And then as we get older, we have a lot more options,” she said. “So my advice would be, pick your friends just as carefully as you pick your romantic partner.”
For more advice from Renee, you can follow her on TikTok @reneeariel and Instagram @reneeariel, and check out her dating blog, Sexting and the City.