When Is it Time to Start Dating Again?
After you’ve left a relationship, well meaning friends may give advice that likens dating to riding a horse: if you get thrown, the trick is to get back in the saddle again as quickly as possible or you will lose your nerve. This is usually a bad idea.
True, the end of a relationship can leave us feeling like something is missing in our lives. Something has changed; someone has gone and we miss the sense of connection we shared with him. That’s particularly the case for those of us who are “nesters” by nature and who like having someone with whom to share life.
Some of us like being in a relationship so much that we are tempted to start looking for one again almost before the last one has grown cold – more often than not a serious mistake. Moving from one relationship to another without ample emotional recovery time means that we aren’t likely to be emotionally available for a new relationship. Even if we are dating someone who is truly wonderful and who might have good potential for a fulfilling connection, the wrong timing can sabotage the bond from the start.
Going slow gives you the time needed to move your ex out of your emotional heart. You can’t really be accessible to another guy until that happens.
Give yourself time. Being single is often undervalued in our society. Being by yourself for a while can mean pursuing your own interests without needing to make the compromises that are required in a relationship; you can do what you want, when you want to do it. See if there are things that you’ve put off while you were with someone. Maybe you have some wild oats to sow. Think of the sorts of things you might have envied your single friends being able to do, and see if they appeal to you.
If you are dating out of a sense of neediness, you’re not likely to make good decisions. You’re also not likely to be very appealing to the right partners; people can sense desperation, and that sort of hunger isn’t very flattering.
Deciding to stay single for a while needn’t mean that you are taking a vow of celibacy or becoming a hermit. Allow yourself to enjoy meeting people. You may want to give clear signals that you are open to enjoying one another’s company without letting things get too serious too fast. Be frank about the fact that you have recently left a relationship and aren’t looking for another one right now.
Being single again can be a good time to renew friendships and your social contacts. Make time to be with people whose company you enjoy. Don’t restrict yourself to potential boyfriends.
When you are feeling up to it, let the word out that you are open to dating again. And remember: dating is about getting to know someone, not “starting a relationship,” especially at first. Don’t look for a copy of your former partner. If things ended acrimoniously, that may seem like unnecessary advice, but remember!
Something attracted you to the guy in the first place. See if there are patterns in the dating choices you make, then notice of those choices are working for you or not.
I have been licensed by the State of Georgia as a professional counselor for more than 25 years. My areas of specialty are relationships, intimacy, sexuality, anxiety and depression. My passion is helping people build happier lives and stronger relationships.
I know it isn’t always easy to talk about problems. My approach to counseling is nonjudgmental and compassionate. If you have questions, I welcome the opportunity to talk with you about working together.
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