“You’ll find someone else.”
How many times have you heard that when a relationship comes to an end?
All sorts of well-meaning people expressed the conviction that I could easily find someone to replace my ex-husband after he asked for the divorce.
Dating’s not that easy.
Figuring out if you’re ready to date isn’t as easy as your mom wants you to believe. (“Can’t you just find a nice man?”)
Sometimes letting your friends set you up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Plus, what happens when you’ve been out of the game for a while? The hardest thing for me was trying to decide if I was ready brave the world of online dating. Internet dating was barely a thing when I got married.
Even if you don’t go the online route and decide to stick to IRL dating options, you can easily feel overwhelmed, depending on how long you’ve been out of the dating pool. Flirting, pickup lines, deciding who pays – all of these things change over time.
Before you can feel ready to date, you need to get the lay of the land.
Are you ready to be you?
Over the last year, I’ve learned the value of owning my shit. Getting to know the single me was a big part of getting ready to date again. If you aren’t sure who you are, you might not be ready to start dating again.
I’m much more straightforward now than I was when I was younger. As a 20-something trying to find someone to marry, there were times I didn’t fully express myself. After all, I lived in a culture that didn’t particularly value female outspokenness or independence.
Today, even though I know my opinions and lifestyle disqualify me from being “dateable” to a large portion of the single population where I live, I make it a point to be me. It’s exhausting to try to meet others’ expectations of what I “should” be just to get a date.
It’s easier to just be me and not fuss too much if someone doesn’t like who that is.
The nice thing about knowing who are and being comfortable with you is that you don’t feel like you have to always be going on dates. If you love yourself, and you’re comfortable alone, you don’t need to date out of desperation. You can date when you’re ready – and you can say no to those that don’t interest you.
Why do you want to date?
Part of knowing you’re ready to date is understanding the reasons behind your desire to get out there.
When first decided I was ready to date, it was because I thought it would be good to meet interesting people and build new connections. It took me a while to decide I wanted to dip my toe in those waters, but once I felt ready, I went in with purpose.
My interest in dating right now has nothing to do with finding a life partner. And, because I own most of my shit now, I’m upfront about that. I know exactly why I date:
- Get to know new people
- Build connections
- Enjoy new experiences
I’m not even opposed to the idea of building a relationship with someone I meet through dating. However, I’m not interested in a long-term relationship right now. That could change, and perhaps someone I meet will prompt that change.
Before you get ready to date, you need to know your goals.
It’s ok if you are dating in the hopes of finding someone to share your life with. In fact, that’s why most people decide to start dating. They hope to find a soulmate. Or at least someone to share part of the journey with.
If you have kids, you need to know whether or not you hope to find someone willing to help you raise them. I have a relatively independent 14-year-old, and my ex and I coparent well. I don’t really feel the need to bring someone else into the mix to help with kid things.
We all have our own reasons for dating, and you need to know your own objectives before you get started.
Are you emotionally ready to date?
Even if you know your goals, think you’re ready for the “rules,” and you know yourself, you need to make sure you are ready, emotionally, to get back into the dating pool.
Dating can take an emotional toll on you. Even if you aren’t looking for something serious, you are still investing time and energy into someone. It might only be for an evening, or through a series of texts, but it’s still emotional energy expended. And, if you get close enough to go on more dates and get to know each other better, the emotional energy needed increases.
You have to be ready for the emotional aspects of dating. Gauge your own emotional readiness before you begin.
Are you able to come in without dragging all of your baggage? We all have baggage. But is yours under control? Are you able to separate what happened in the past from the possibilities of the present and the future?
After I went on a couple of dates initially, I realized I wasn’t really ready after all. I felt too busy and not ready to make the time. I dialed back my efforts and took a little more time to get right with myself and my schedule.
If you get out there and realize that maybe the time isn’t right after all, there’s nothing wrong with deactivating your dating account and telling your friends you don’t want to be set up.
There’s no one way to figure out if you’re ready to date again. The best you can do is figure out where you stand, what you want out of the situation, and make sure you’re ready to give it your best shot.