Is it time to start dating again? Do you know how to get started? Is it a matter of jumping back in and picking up where you left off? Don’t worry, we have answers.
Maybe you’re feeling a whole new approach is called for based on your past experience. Perhaps you’ve been told that things have changed, and you’d better be prepared. And then there are the aspects of being single you enjoy and will miss. Just what is the best way to start dating again?
Doing your inner work is a mindful practice and a great place to begin. Gaining clarity and setting an intention for what you want will enable you to have a positive transition back into dating.
Begin by considering what is motivating you to start dating again.
It’s important that meeting other people and possibly entering into another relationship is what you want, not what those close to you want for you. Don’t allow well-meaning friends or family members to impose their views on you. Singles often feel pressure from those close to them to find a partner. Once you begin dating, you will have another party to consider, which may mean relinquishing some feelings of freedom and spontaneity. Be clear that this is a trade-off you see as worthwhile.
Define what you’re looking for from the experience.
Is it to have someone to do things with, or are you ultimately looking for your life partner? What is it about being a couple that you seek? Take the time to identify your needs and desires as doing so will help you make the best decisions. As the classic expression goes, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you won’t know when you’ve found it. This focus will also enable you avoid missteps, helping to keep your confidence up as you get started.
Examine in what ways you are different since your last relationship.
Have your lifestyle, schedule or eating habits changed? Are your goals different this time? Have your values or family relationships shifted? Are you in a new stage of life that will impact a relationship? Mindfulness is all about self-awareness. As you recognize these things, consider what changes you’ll want to make this time. You may choose to reserve portions of your week for your family, or you may decide to date only vegans. The greater your clarity, the smoother the process will be for you.
Set an intention to carry with you only the lessons that will help you grow and attract the relationship you desire.
Releasing regrets and hurts will enable you to stay in the moment, which is where your new partner will be. This is especially important if your last relationship was painful or ended badly. See this as a fresh start, and don’t allow fear of repeating the past to hold you back. Leave your former partners in the past to avoid the common dating mistake of bringing them up in conversation.
Take stock of the expectations you have.
Note that eliminating every expectation is not only unrealistic, it’s not wise. We have a right to expect certain things, such as being treated with respect, for example. Instead, be conscious of any expectations you may have for yourself, the other person, and the relationship. Are you setting appropriate boundaries, or instead, are you limiting your possibilities?
Feel and interpret your emotions.
As you get started, you may feel a rush of emotion. It may be fear or doubt—or you may find connecting exhilarating. Take the time to experience these emotions and determine what’s behind them. If they’re negative, ask yourself if you’re overreacting based on past experiences or if you are resisting to changes in your single status. If enthusiasm is your experience, are you getting carried away by your emotions and having difficulty being discerning in your decisions? Allowing yourself to ease into the experience and take it slowly will help you get an accurate perception of yourself and the other person.
You may find it difficult to meet someone compatible to date. If so, don’t despair. Hold to your intention. Vow to stay true to yourself and your values, and don’t settle. This will be easier if you’ve completed your inner work. As you progress, take time to reflect on your experience. Journaling about your choices, decisions, feelings, successes, and challenges will be enlightening and help you stay in alignment with your vision.
Starting to date again is an exciting change. Take a lesson from nature where change is constantly occurring. Because most of it is so subtle and gradual, however, we’re not aware of it. Ease into your new dating experience, and it will develop naturally.
[image: via Hayden Petrie on flickr]