Most of us have been single (and frustrated) at some point. As mature individuals, we’ve had significant relationships at various stages of our lives, and find ourselves becoming more and more selective when it comes to dating and finding a mate (rightfully so). Some of us celebrate being single, considering who is “out there,” and anticipate the first strong connection made with someone new. For others, being single is dreaded, and the idea of dating again can be extremely daunting. Regardless of how you see yourself in your “single mirror,” there are a few crucial steps to consider before putting on your dating shoes.
First, be open-minded. Sometimes a mediocre first date opens the doors to meeting someone truly interesting. Dating should be fun and an experience that you look forward to. Remember that dating is a bit like a sport—once you jump back in the game (after being benched for a while), time is the only thing that will make the process easier and feel more natural. Consider dating someone for a bit before calling U-Haul and giving your landlord your 30-day notice. Feel it out. We only grow stronger as couples as we experience things together.
A handful of hot nights don’t necessarily create a true bond. There are plenty of single people out there in the same boat as you—trying to date again after years of coupledom (trust us, we know), so don’t jump into “two cats and a yard” too
Before getting back into the scene, make sure you’re ready. “Ready” doesn’t mean throwing out his/her old toothbrush and hitting the town (or match.com) hours later. Being a mature single person means embracing what you have to offer a partner. It means being ready—mentally, physically and emotionally. No, you don’t have to hit the gym seven days a week and repeat “we broke up—we broke up—we broke up” in the mirror.
Just make sure you take the appropriate time to mourn your last relationship, reflect on what you loved about your past relationship(s), and what you never want to see again. Be open to the possibility of new people—don’t date the same person again with a different hair color. Feel confident and ready.
How to tap into this world of unlimited available singles? Well, this also takes a few steps. First, be proactive. Mr(s). Right will not ring your doorbell tonight (really, we tried this method). Don’t sit among your social network (that you probably shared with your ex—eeek!) and expect for someone amazing to appear, apparition style. You have to do new things to meet new people. Got an invite from a coworker or old friend for a Friday night dinner party? Go. Always wanted to volunteer? Do it now. With all the time you’re not spending with Mr(s). Wrong from your last relationship, you have to be proactive and try new avenues of meeting people. Consider this: What did singles do when online dating wasn’t a fallback? Well, we know that couples didn’t magically appear on their own. You have to do something about it and get yourself outside the box.
Dating has a lot to do with timing. I’ve been in this industry long enough to know that if you’re pursuing a new partner and your ex and you still text or chat (or sleep together here and there), nothing will come of it. Put your old relationships to bed before pursuing the new. No one wants to date you if you got out of a relationship last weekend—it screams insecurity and 1-800-THERAPIST. I always say: reflect, relax and respond. Move forward.
I’ve noticed another new pressure in dating: How much you spend. When new to the dating scene, remember that your wallet isn’t going to impress your date—it’s you. Don’t hide behind a fancy menu on your first few dates. Remember what I said about how building relationships is all about engaging in experiences together? No offense, but having someone wait on you isn’t really ideal when it comes to understanding each other. Dinners out are fantastic, but don’t judge him/her on how (s)he tastes the wine you ordered or if (s)he uses the right fork for salad. Go to art openings, hike or walk the city, take spontaneous picnics, enroll in a sushi-making class. Whatever you do, avoid the movies (what do you learn about someone when you’re silent for two hours and drive her/him home)? Do keep your eye on various singles' events in your local community. Invite him/her to something that will showcase something you’re passionate about. Sure, (s)he might not be into a tea tasting party, but let’s be honest. There is nothing sexier than seeing your girl/guy (YOU) become completely enamored and engaged on the topic or event presented.
Lasting connections don’t happen overnight. If your dating strategy is to meet someone and to never have to read this column again, then put the time in to do the work beforehand. Know your comfort zone, push it a bit, but showcase the best you.