It’s Time to Start Dating Again

Susan Leigh for Smart Divorce

When It’s Time to Start Dating Again

Over the years many of us will have had a variety of dating experiences. Starting with the crushes of our early school years, followed by the intensity of our ‘no one’s ever felt this way before’ first loves, we will no doubt have experienced some roller-coaster ups and downs throughout our dating life. As we got older and became more established, perhaps with our homes and careers, a more permanent relationship and marriage to a life partner became more appealing.

Many early relationships don’t last and result in divorce, after which we may choose to take a break from emotional involvements in order to heal and recover. Doing so can be a positive step, taking time to get over the heartbreak, re-establish our lives and decide what we want from a long term partner. There will then come a time when we feel ready; it’s time to start dating again.

Let’s look at ways to prepare to start dating again.

– Be true to yourself. Many people scan the press, popular magazines, their local clubs and bars to discover what’s happening ‘out there’, what’s the most aspirational look of the moment. Yes, it’s fun and interesting to be aware of the latest fashions and trends, but becoming a clone of everyone else is no guarantee of success in the dating game. Plus, chasing the latest clothes whilst hanging out in the most popular clubs and bars can be draining, tiresome and unnecessarily expensive, especially if you’d rather be doing something completely different. When you’re ready to start dating again commit to finding someone with similar interests. That’s a much more effective way to form a relationship with someone who’s suitable for you.

– Work on your issues. If you find yourself repeating negative patterns of behaviour, running away from even minor disagreements or confrontation or becoming hostile when faced with gentle advice or criticism, why not commit to hypnotherapy or counselling as a way of addressing your issues before it’s time to start dating again. These are ways to help you understand the reasons for those inappropriate reactions and responses and appreciate that, as they no longer serve a useful purpose, they can now be let go.

– Listen to advice but ultimately make your own choices and decisions. The important people in your life, your family and friends, are often invested in seeing you settled. They want you to be happy, but may also have their own agendas, with advice and opinions about who they deem to be a suitable match for you. Appreciate their advice but remember that it’s you who has to live with whatever choices you make. By all means, enjoy their care and attention but, before you follow their advice, take a step back and reflect on what’s best for you.

– Take good care of yourself. The ending of a relationship can be a devastating blow to both confidence and self-esteem. What needs to happen to improve those areas for you? Yes, therapy can help, but so too can taking time to refresh your image. Some people use the time post-divorce to update their look, lose a little weight, tone up, change the way they dress, find a new hairdresser, join a gym, learn some new skills. Making an effort to invest time and energy into yourself is a good way to prepare for when you’re ready to start dating again.

– Say ‘yes’ to invitations. Even something that doesn’t sound especially appealing may lead to making new friends, meeting interesting people, engaging in new, unexpected activities. Say ‘yes’ because you never know where it may lead! And even it doesn’t result in a fabulous, fun-packed evening, at least you’ve had a night out, met some new people and practised your conversational skills.

– Maintain an interest in what’s happening around you. It’s important to be able to join in with popular, topical discussions, especially when you’re ready to start dating again. Being able to converse socially is important, particularly after the reduced opportunities of the last couple of years. Many people are okay with conversing in their work environment; they know what’s expected of them and can maintain their poise in those situations. Social conversations are often more testing as there’s no agenda to follow. Maintain an interest in a variety of popular topics, so that you can feel at ease about initiating or joining relaxed conversations.

– Be proactive with your social life. Don’t wait for others and instead learn what’s happening locally. Familiarise yourself with future events, concerts, shows, sporting fixtures and organise outings with the people in your sphere. This way, you ensure that you’re busy, have a fun and interesting time away from your day-to-day life and may even meet someone with whom you get on especially well.

Having a special someone in your life brings companionship, support, friendship and intimacy into your life. Being out of practice meeting and potentially dating can impact on your self-esteem, confidence and become an unsettling time, especially after the distress of a breakup. It can be useful, at first, to use your single time to address any personal issues, introduce some positive self-care and value being single for a while. Then, when it’s time to start dating again, you’re not desperate, but looking for someone who will enhance your life and make it better.

Susan Leigh, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist,