Ready to Date Again...or Not?
Are you ready?
Dating is fun. Or at least, it can be. As with anything, when we approach it with a positive attitude we can reap great rewards and have a good time. By lightening up, not taking ourselves so seriously, and putting our best foot forward, it can be very fun to learn about new people while being social and friendly. But it’s hard to lighten up and be positive if we’re carrying around a heavy heart because we’re not quite sure we’ve fully healed from the last relationship.
How does one know if they are ready to date again or not? Well, this isn’t quite as difficult as one may think. In fact, there are several tell-tale signs that point directly to the correct answer. One of the first things you should ask yourself is how long it has been since your last relationship. It’s best to give yourself some time before you move on to another relationship, as jumping directly into a new one usually leads to more heartache in the end.
How much time you need depends on your individual situation. For example, if you are absolutely devastated and can barely eat or sleep, you will naturally need more time to heal than if you are just mildly sad over the break up. On her website, Elly Prior, a British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy accredited couple’s counselor, cites seven main factors that will influence how hard it could be to get over your failed relationship:
- The length of the relationship or marriage
- How recently you split up
- How “intense” or even “obsessive” the relationship was
- How important it was to you
- How it ended
- Whether there was any domestic violence
- Whether or not the relationship was an affair
Some experts say it takes half the time you dated your ex to get over them, but truly, the time frame is a personal decision that has no right or wrong answer. However, there are constructive ways to grieve that could actually be beneficial for your mental well-being. In Psychology Today, David Braucher, Ph.D., writes that in our hesitancy to get over our ex, we hold on to our capacity to love. So it makes sense that the longer we aren’t with the person the less and less our capacity for remorse. The most effective and quickest way to get over our ex and the healthiest for our own mental well-being is to change our pain into a positive learning experience.
In order to change our grief into a positive learning experience, Dr. Braucher suggests that we disconnect the internal image of our ex from his or her presence (be it actual or virtual). Learning to distinguish between the built up internal image of an ex versus the actual person can actually be quite hard since the anger and/or sadness feel so personal. Once we learn to separate the actual person that is our ex from the mental image of who we wanted or believed them to be, we can gain an appreciation of our own feelings of love.
This can be done by focusing on the positive feelings you’ve associated with your ex. In other words, focus on what you liked about the way you loved your ex. For example, if you still feel hurt and angry when your ex is around, your mental and spiritual self, your loving self, can still access feelings of love and compassion. Remember that you are lucky to have experienced the good feelings and the love that you had. There are people out there who don’t know if they ever will feel love like that, or if the positive experiences and feelings you had will ever even happen for them. This very personal, direct experience of our own loving selves through our internal imagery can be a powerful source of motivation when times get tough.
This process of focusing on the good, appreciating the way you felt, and the way you loved during your past relationship is important. Dr. Braucher’s process gives you the insight to appreciate the fact that your ex, as bad as things may have become, was important in allowing you to experience your loving and selfless side. Appreciating and understanding your ability to love is what will ultimately give you the strength to finally move on.
There are other ways to gauge your readiness to date again, as well. Do you feel confident in yourself? If you do not, it can be hard to attract the right type of man. Most people who have low self-esteem issues attract users, abusers, or the narcissist types. Those with confidence issues are very vulnerable to meeting and dating the biggest jerk around. In other words, if you feel not-so-good about yourself, take time out to work on that first before dating again. It may be the reason that you and your last partner are not together, so be careful to learn from the experience instead of repeating the same mistakes.
After some time, you should find your thoughts returning to your ex less and less; this is a great indicator that you’re nearing the time of being ready to date again. Nothing turns someone off more than hearing about “The Ex” all the time. If you find yourself doing this, take some more time away from the dating scene to clear your mind better. It may sound selfish, but focus on you. New dates are dating you to get to know you, so don’t feel bad about thinking of yourself from time to time.
Lastly, do you want to date again? Is there someone who has genuinely caught your interest, or are you just dating because you think you should? We live in a society where singles are looked upon as incomplete. Don’t let this dictate your love life. If you feel fine alone and don’t have the desire to date, then don’t. You are complete just as you are. Often times it’s when you feel down and out you think having a partner will fix it all.
Having a healthy, loving, respectful relationship can be very beneficial in life but it’s not instant and takes time to build. Just remember the most important person who truly knows you, loves you and will always be there for you is you. Like the old saying goes, we must love ourselves first before expecting another to.