If you've just come out of a long-term relationship or marriage, the idea of getting back in the dating game can seem terrifying and daunting. And if you were burned badly during this relationship, chances are you will have a few trust and baggage issues thrown into the mix, making it even harder to know the ‘right’ time to consider entering – or re-entering - the dating world.
I gave myself a timeline of at least twelve months post-separation before I would consider dating again. A relationship was the last thing I wanted after what I’d been through, yet I can still remember an occasional longing for intimate adult companionship on those lonely nights standing at the stove, alone, cooking dinner for two mostly unappreciative teenagers!
Truth is, it is normal to crave companionship, and if you've given yourself the time to properly grieve the end of your last partnership, and spent time alone to find and learn who you actually are without a partner, then dipping your toes back into the dating world - if you want to - is a nice next step to take on your journey of rediscovering yourself.
Here are my no-fuss tips to help get you back in the dating game:
Dip your toes in slowly
Make sure you really have recovered from the grief of your separation or divorce before you dive back into the world of dating. If you have done the work on yourself and want to date for all of the right reasons - fun, companionship, the possibility of love further down the track, instead of reasons of insecurity, money issues and low self-esteem then you will be in the best headspace to make a success of it and you won’t be carrying around (too much) baggage from your previous relationship.
If you find someone who you feel a connection with, take this slowly too. Don’t pressure yourself OR allow yourself to be pressured into rushing things. Let the relationship evolve naturally and at its own pace. Dinner once a week in the early days is great. If the connection grows, you will naturally want to start seeing each other twice, then three times per week. And so on.
There is much written about ‘texting’ in the dating world – the idea being that you should not allow a potential relationship to remain in the texting phase for too long, lest it never moves beyond this. And I agree.
However, I have known of a few women (myself included) who have been content to have a tentative relationship based primarily on texting, to help ease the way back into the dating world after a long time absent. Texting (and emailing) can be a fun and easy way to dip your toes into dating, if you are nervous about getting back into it full-swing. As I was.
Be open to different avenues for meeting people. We have all heard of horror stories relating to online dating – but I also personally know a few couples who have found long-term love online. If you are open to online dating, it may take some effort to find a site that works for you, but there is no need to fall into the trap of thinking that everybody dating online is only after ‘one thing’.
When it comes to the people you meet, don’t be surprised or afraid if you find yourself attracted to ‘different’ types! As you evolve and change, so do your tastes and perceptions. Your soul will naturally want to seek out different people and experiences in the name of growth. Don’t stifle this! Be brave enough to hang out with or date the people you feel drawn to, even if they aren’t your ‘regular’ types. Your ‘regular’ may well be changing from what it once was.
Focus on making a genuine connection with someone, rather than obsessing too early over the size of his or her paycheck or the make of their car, and you may just be pleasantly surprised!
Let go of the stigma and rules of ‘dating’
There is SO much written about the ‘rules’ of the dating world – how to act, how not to act, the protocols and timelines for texting and calling, how many dates before this, how many dinners before that – I personally couldn’t be bothered with any of it. It was all too confusing and too much information for my already overloaded brain.
Besides this, I felt that it made something which should be fun and nice - yes awkward and slightly painful at times, but fundamentally a nice thing - into an exam in sociology or science or mathematics. Aarrggghhh!!
So much easier to just get back to basics. If you come across somebody with whom there is an apparent connection, and you feel like pursuing that connection, then go for it. If you come across somebody who seems nice enough but with whom there is no real chemistry or connection, then maybe leave that one be.
It is not rocket science (although the amount of literature on the topic these days would suggest otherwise) and it needn’t be overthought. Go on a date, don’t go on a date - whatever your intuition tells you is best… follow that lead.
As much as is possible learn to relax and let whatever will be, be. Focus first on yourself, your children, your family and friends and your career, and learn to trust your gut. Rest assured, when the time is right, love WILL find you. Good luck!
Do you have any other no-fuss tips or ideas for navigating the dating world? Share them in the comments!
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