I have an extensive amount of dating experience.
I've been going at it for 15 years now, or half of my life (that is a frightening realization.) Two years ago I started a list of guys I've dated, adding notes beside each name to help me keep them straight, and it's now up to 32 extremely diverse members.
The first real relationship I had was with Jake. We dated for about 3 years throughout high school and he is the only one I'm still friends with.
This guy was a few guys later. He was the first military guy I dated. We got tattoo's on our first date (dinner at Olive Garden) and got into a car accident on the way to the mall after. I got a star on my foot and hid it from my parents for weeks by wearing socks around the house 24/7. I also had black hair and tanned too much.I could be here all day sharing dating stories but that's not why I'm writing this. Since starting this blog almost 2 years ago I've had one serious relationship which ended a few months after I began writing here. I know many of my female readers empathized with my break-up and were interested to see how I'd readjust to single life and the dating scene. I ended up taking about a year off from dating, and finally got back on the saddle in November. The last guy and I dated for a few weeks, and prior to us deciding to go our separate ways I thought about doing a post on realizing when you are ready to date again. Then, almost immediately after I had that idea we broke up, and I thought 'well, that post seems kind of inappropriate now.'
But, it's actually perfect timing.
See - the fact that I am 100% okay, not emotionally scarred, not drunk texting him, and not pining over what went wrong is precisely why I feel semi-qualified to talk about knowing when you are ready to date again. Clearly, I was ready after taking that year off. I think you are ready to date again when you know that you will be okay if things don't work out. Here's how to do that:
- Support yourself: Do not put yourself in a position where you will be dependent on someone for your housing arrangements or financial stability. When I worked at a vet hospital many moons ago I had an uber girl crush on our office manager. She was in her 40's, gorgeous, and happily married with two kids. I forget what her husband did but he clearly made a ton of money and she really didn't have to work, so I asked her why she did. Her response revolutionized how I viewed dating. She said as happy and secure in her relationship as she was, she'd never been 100% happy if she thought she couldn't support herself and her daughters if shit hit the fan. Knowing she could be independent if she had to made being in the relationship a choice, not a chore. I can't tell you how many female students I've had come to me outside of class and say the are miserable with their significant others, but trapped until they finish their degree and can get a job. I promise you will be so, so, so much happier in a relationship if you know you are there only because you want to be, never because you have to.
- Make yourself happy: Everyone has one relationship that absolutely destroys them. Mine came at age 25, and it took me a few years to truly get over it. The best thing that came out of that experience was realizing I need to always make myself happy, and not let my happiness depend on other people. I let my happiness be dependent on a man and guess what happened when he left? So did my happiness, and it wasn't pretty. Now, I prioritize making my life effing awesome so that if I date someone and it doesn't work out it's okay because my life still rocks.
- Have goals, hobbies, and friends that you will actively maintain independent of a significant other: I realized after my last two serious relationships ended that I was more upset about losing the future we had planned, then the guys themselves. In both situations we talked often about fantastical dreams like traveling the world or moving cross-country. I believed what they said to be truths, and maybe in some way they believed it when they said it, but I've learned now to always remember that there are no guarantees for the future. Honestly, in my experience, I don't think it's a good idea to put to much hope/energy into future plans until vows have been exchanged. As far as dating goes I know I will benefit more from keeping focus on my goals, hobbies, and friendships that will still be there post-breakup (should there be one) then pouring my emotional resources into common goals which can be quickly taken away.
I hope I don't come across jaded. I'm trying to be more of a realist. Statistically most of us are screwed when we start dating someone. Chances are things won't workout, and that's okay. I used to get really hung up on feeling like things 'failed' when a relationship ended with someone. Now, I just try to focus on the relationship as a learning experience and appreciate it for what it taught me or made me realize about myself or my needs.
Look at me getting all wise and shit.
How to Successfully Navigate a Break-Up I wrote this article almost 2 years ago and I think the first step in being ready to date again is properly healing from your last relationship
How can you tell when you are ready to date again?
What's the #1 piece of advice you'd give yourself at 18 years old about dating?