Opening yourself up to the possibility of love can be scary. Kriste Peoples is here to help you navigate the plunge of getting back into dating.
How do you know when the person you like likes you back? How long should you wait before returning that special someone’s call? When can you be sure you’ve met “The One”?
Thanks to technological advances on the dating front, gauging the romantic interest and compatibility of potential mates is as simple as a swipe-and-click. Yet, for perennial singles looking for love, recognizing the right time to venture into the dating pool remains a challenge.
How do you know when to risk your heart again? Where do you begin your search for lasting love when you’ve been out of practice? Your answers will of course be unique to your situation, but I can tell you this much with confidence: if you find yourself reflected in any of the following scenarios, then it’s time to dust off your dating profile, dunk yourself into the nearest dating pool and head—heart first—for the deep end.
It’s time to start dating again if:
You’ve convinced yourself “there’s no one out there” for you.
When our hearts have been pummeled by love, it’s understandable that we might be inclined to mask our scar tissue and fear with stories of unhinged, issue-ridden exes who shall not be named (or named way too frequently).
In the throes of heartbreak, we slant our accounting of the past so that it shows us as valiant, victimized, blameless or otherwise misunderstood. “They’re crazy,” you’ll say, without ever taking responsibility for the roles you played in the past. As my friend Jamie says, “Crazy recognizes crazy,” and she’s right.
Telling yourself there’s no one for you is not only statistically impossible; it’s also arrogant to think that in the entirety of the known world, there doesn’t exist a single person (literally) who could love you like you deserve. Seriously?
Get back in the saddle by giving yourself permission to let go of old hurt and excuses. Forgive your past self and embrace the fact that the love you seek is seeking you, too.
Off-limits people have begun to appeal to you.
Ray was a shiny thing. He was the type of guy I said I’d never get involved with. We met at a house party one night, and he immediately drew me in—the way he held court, charming everyone around him, the way he held me on the makeshift dance floor, touching me lightly at the small of my back, stroking the sides of my face with the backs of his soft, ringless hands.
By the end of the night, I happily let Ray spin me right out of my clothes. He was intoxicating, and I was beyond lonely. For the next three months, I screwed my own rules by letting Ray tell me everything I wanted to hear. I was newish to town and told myself I wasn’t looking for anything serious since I’d probably be moving soon anyway. Turns out, ringless Ray was married. I didn’t move, and it all went nowhere fast.
Get back in the saddle by treating yourself lovingly first. Loneliness happens to us all, but it needn’t distort the desires of your heart. Besides, treating yourself with kindness encourages others to do the same. It’s also a great defense against the glaring distractions of stand-ins for the real thing.
You don’t think it’s possible.
This one comes from none other than Mrs. Jolie-Pitt, and despite what you might think about how the whole Brangelina thing went down, her words speak to the importance of moving beyond our self-limiting perspectives of love.
“I never thought I’d be in love,” she said. “I never thought I’d meet the right person. Having come from a broken home, you kind of accept that certain things feel like a fairy tale, and you just don’t look for them.”
The more disappointment and pain we experience, the more we resign ourselves to the impossibility of finding—or cultivating—a love that lasts.
Get back in the saddle by remembering that our power to make new, loving choices only exists in the present. You don’t have to have a perfect upbringing in order to experience love. Let yourself receive love for its own sake and watch your relationships, your life and everything in it transform.
Other people have already done your heavy lifting.
I have a friend we’ll call, “Cynthia.” Cynthia has a sister whose husband, we’ll call him “Mike,” was on her speed dial anytime Cynthia needed help around her house. I’d often come to her house to find him fixing the plumbing, installing lights and helping around the yard. She only ever looked at Mike as her brother, she said, but it was no coincidence that she remained single right up until the time he and his wife moved away from the area.
For Cynthia, the convenience of having a man around the house to help with anything she needed (aside from sex), had lulled her into a sense of complacency and comfort where relationships were concerned.
Get back in the saddle when you find yourself relying on the wrong people to meet needs you should be handling yourself. Rather than siphon off support from other people’s partners, hire the proper helpers to tackle your tasks, and turn your focus to attracting the kind of partner who can lovingly support you in the right ways.
You know you want to.
One of the biggest barriers to realizing love and intimacy with others is the inability to be our authentic selves. Holding each other at arm’s length, appearing too aloof for true connection, or too fearful of rejection makes it hard to establish a foundation of safety and trust.
What’s ironic is that the people we’re most attracted to, the ones we really want to be and be with, are the ones who are real, honest and open. They’re the ones who embrace life in its messiness and imperfection and they’re right at home embracing the same in themselves.
Get back in the saddle and get messy while you’re at it! Allow yourself to be unapologetically you, whether you’re on a date or on your own. Get acquainted with who you are at heart. Rediscover your likes and dislikes, find out what you really love, investigate new interests, let yourself be seen and heard as though for the first time. You’ll come to love yourself for it—and so will your partner.
[image: via shutterstock]