How to Start Dating Again
Dating after divorce or break-up of a long-term relationship, can be an intimidating experience, but, it doesn’t have to be. It’s only scary if you jump in the deep end of the dating pool without first learning how to swim.
You have experienced the loss of your “happily-ever-after” dream for your marriage and that is enough to put anyone off-balance. Even if you were the one who initiated the divorce, it is still the end of something you thought would last forever and your world has been turned inside out.
The Critical Voices
While it is perfectly normal to grieve the loss of that relationship, you don’t want to get stuck there. Sooner or later, you might start thinking you want to share your life with someone. As soon as you begin to look in the direction of finding a new partner, you may start hearing the critical voices in your head. Voices that tell you that you are too old, not good-looking enough, too smart, too dumb, too difficult to please… the list goes on. What’s the deal with the critical voices? Don’t they have anything better to do than tear down your self-esteem? Apparently, according to psychologists, those voices are trying to protect you. Thanks, but… no thanks!
Here is the truth. Finding a new life partner, or someone to have fun, or go on adventures with is not as difficult as you might think. It does however, require a conscious approach to the process, if you don’t want to wind up in an unhappy situation with someone you wish you had never met. I know this, because I have been there and done that. A conscious approach? Never heard of it, until I did.
Start with Yourself
What is the story you tell yourself and others about you? Do you have a story you tell about your ex? What was your role in the breakup? Be honest with yourself, so old relationship business will not be an obstacle to your current or future happiness.
If you want to date successfully, you will need to do some inner work first. Similar to the way people learn to swim. You start out in the shallow end of the pool. Maybe you wear “swimmies” to help keep you afloat while you learn. Take the process slow and easy. If you are feeling especially anxious about dating, you might only want to stand on the stairs and dip your toes in the water.
What does dipping your toes in the water look like when it comes to dating?
Start out by taking a close look at what you like about yourself and if there is anything you would like to change. Not because you think it will attract a partner, but because it is a change that you want to make for yourself. If you have always wanted to try a different hairstyle or type of clothing, learn how to play tennis, or paint, now is a perfect time to do those things. Doing those or other things you think you will enjoy, will boost your confidence and help you feel more at ease about yourself. Do you feel as if you lost a part of yourself in the old relationship? What aspect of yourself would you like to bring back? Is your general attitude toward life a positive one or could it use some improvement? The more you engage in activities and thinking that lifts your spirits, the quieter the critical voices will become.
There is no reason to go from A (the divorce) to Z (going out on a date) and skipping all the letters in between. In fact, that is a recipe for unhappiness. Instead, work through the “alphabet” at a slow pace. Spend time getting to know yourself again. When you are ready to go out and meet people, you will know it. You may still feel nervous and unsure of yourself, but you will be willing to push past those feelings. Until then, be patient and kind to yourself.
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