By Salama Marine, Resident Psychologist at EliteSingles
After years of marriage or an extensive period of time spent in a long-term relationship, it can be difficult to adapt to the single life. This is especially tricky when dating techniques, services and even lingo are constantly changing. So how do you even begin to get back into the dating game?
This question is particularly difficult today, as singles have higher expectations than ever before and set their sights high when looking for the perfect partner. They are less likely to waste their time with people who don’t match their criteria. So where do you start?
Make a list
Remember, you have an advantage: because of your past experience, you have a much better understanding of what it really means to be in a long, serious relationship. Therefore, start by making a list of all the things that you want, and don’t want, from your next relationship. This will give you a much clearer view of your own expectations.
Shorten the list
Now, you’ve made this list, it’s time to shorten it. Go through each point on your list one by one and decide where you’d be willing to compromise. Putting age and experience aside, it’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with being demanding and having high expectations when it comes to your personal life. Use this list to decide what is most important to you. This way, you’ll judge a potential partner using only the most vital details.
Take your time
There’s no shame in looking for a partner. After years on your own or with the same partner, it can be daunting to connect emotionally and physically with someone new. Trusting someone takes time, so there is absolutely no need to rush; take the time to talk and get to know your potential date. The experience is different for everyone. Some people could take years to move past the emotions of a break up or a divorce. Some people may be ready to date sooner than others after the death of a spouse; others need to build their confidence again. There is no rule.
Re-build your confidence
If you don’t have the right mind set for dating, there’s little chance you’ll meet someone who is worth your time. After a divorce or a break up, your ego can be damaged. It can be difficult for some people to realise just how worthy they are. If you are in this situation, why not talk with your friends? Ask simple questions like “Why are you my friend?” and “Why do you like to spend time with me?” Learn how you’re seen in other people’s eyes and start to believe that you are a person worth knowing. Hearing this from friends can really help to re-build your confidence.
Create reasonable objectives
When you’re getting back into dating, it’s important to decide on reachable goals to avoid any disappointment. For example, it’s not easy for everyone to just walk up to someone that they like in a bar and start talking to them. In this scenario, online dating can be really helpful; it can help you to realise that meeting and dating completely new people is not so difficult – you may just need the practice! After several dates, you’ll quickly become relaxed in this kind of situation.
Be clear with the person you meet
When people get back on the dating scene, they tend to forget that not everyone they will meet will be on the same page. Even if they like each other, the expectations can be very different. The easiest way to start dating without worrying about this is to be clear from the beginning about what you are looking for. This way, neither one of you will end up wasting your time.
Don’t focus on the past; focus on the future
Don’t talk about the past or try to compare what’s happening now with a previous situation. By this I mean, don’t focus on your ex. Many people, both online and in real life, make this mistake, and talk (most often negatively) about their ex. This just gives the impression that they’re not ready to meet someone new! If you’re not ready to date someone new, then don’t do it. It’s better to feel completely ready and confident enough to meet someone with whom you’re comfortable and compatible. When it comes to online dating, use your profile to show that you are focused on the future, not the past. No one likes to hear about an ex on a first date.
Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability
By shutting down your own vulnerability, you’re shutting yourself off from the intensity of love. After a long relationship this is normal behaviour, because the fear of being hurt is often too strong. But it’s possible to work on this and to move forward into a deep relationship. How? Don’t be afraid to express exactly how you feel, when you feel it. If this relationship is worth it, the person you meet should be ready to listen your vulnerability.
Don’t be discouraged
It’s pretty rare to meet “the one” on your first date back out there, and that’s often for the best! You can improve your dating skills and really decide what exactly you want. This may be something surprising, something that you didn’t realise before you started going on dates.
If you feel that the person you just met is not emotionally available, then move on. It’s that simple. Why? Because, everyone deserves someone who is as ready as they are to commit to the relationship.