Getting Back Into The Dating Game
by Trish McDermott
If you are suddenly single after a marriage or a long-term relationship, you may feel awkward and confused upon your reentry into the dating world. You're not alone. Dating requires a particular kind of social and emotional muscle, and these muscles can atrophy without use. With a little warming up and some specific exercises, you will soon be back at your peak dating performance and reaping your due romantic benefits. Like any ambitious exercise regimen though, ambivalence, inconsistency, and low-energy won't get you the results you desire. Follow the steps below to effectively put yourself back into the dating game.
Wrap Up Any Lingering Business From Your Past Relationship
Unfinished business from a prior relationship is a bigger obstacle to healthy new relationships than many of us realize. You may have suffered some degree of loss when your last relationship ended. It's important to let yourself experience the ensuing grief and all the feelings associated with it. This takes time. Don't date for emotional revenge, to prove your eligibility, or to abate feelings of loneliness. Date when you are emotionally unencumbered by any prior relationship. Remember too that maintaining responsibilities and patterns from a past relationship can send signals of unavailability. Does he continue to make payments on your car and then expect to borrow it on weekends? Does she still keep clothes and exercise equipment at your house? Do you still call each other, just to check in, every Sunday morning? Make a decision. It's impossible to hold on and let go at the same time.
Get Your Life In Good Working Order
A new romantic partner won't fix what is broken in your day-to-day life. It may temporarily distract you from any pending disasters, but it isn't a solution. Eventually, disasters happen. Take a look at your career, home, family, and relationships with friends:
• Is everything in good working order?
• Are you in a healthy emotional state?
Make sure you feel sane and happy and that your behavior is honest, open, and free from manipulation. Clean up the mess in your house before inviting company over. Everyone will have a better time. There's nothing sexier or more attractive than a successful, healthy and happy person. They have a certain self confidence and air of irresistibility about them. Be one.
Give Yourself A Makeover
Your appearance is important, especially in the early dating stages. As much as we want to be loved for who we are on the inside, the outside package can make or break a budding romance. When you look your best you also feel your best. New relationships are opportunities for fresh starts. Now is the perfect time to repackage yourself. How?
• Color your hair and get a daring, stylish cut.
• Try some new makeup.
• Get a manicure.
• Experiment with a different cologne or perfume.
• Lose those ten pounds and get that definition you've always wanted.
• After you've shaped up, treat yourself to some new clothes, preferably something you can wear on a first date.
Have some fun with the process and enjoy the results.
Determine The Qualities You Desire In A Mate
Make a list of the qualities and characteristics your next lover must possess. Try to avoid the obvious--tall, dark, and handsome--and instead look at issues of compatibility, communications style, behavior traits, interests, energy, life goals, relationship goals, personality, and intelligence. Keep your expectations high (you deserve a quality partner), but also realistic. Divide your preferences into two categories: "must have" and "preferred."
Once you've mulled over the list, get out an eraser and eliminate half the preferred criteria and move a few of your must haves over to preferred. Finally, list your attributes in order of priority. Remember, while it's unlikely that anyone will have all of your required attributes, many potential dates will show up offering qualities you haven't considered but may come to truly appreciate. Allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised.
Remind Yourself That You Have A Lot To Offer
Deep inside we are all beautiful and remarkable people who deserve the joys and many treasures that life and love can provide. Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten who we really are and how uniquely lovable that person is. Stay away from the comparison game. It's rigged. You seldom seem to be enough, or have enough and consequentially, you tend to come out the loser. Sometimes, after an unhappy relationship ends, we walk away with a temporarily damaged self-esteem. We forget how much we have to offer the world and what great catches we really are. The real you isn't the same as your ex-lover's bitter perspective of you. Ask your friends for some input. Remind yourself how special you are until it becomes second nature. Your relationship may have failed, but your life hasn't.
Come "Out" As A Single Person
Many loving relationships are the result of amateur matchmaking by a mutual friend or associate. If you are recently single after a lengthy marriage or relationship, you may continue to be perceived as "off the market." Set the record straight. Announce to the world that you are single, available, and looking. Casually mention to your neighbors that you are dating again. Let your family know that you're ready to meet someone new. Remove anything that might be mistaken as an engagement or wedding ring. Take pictures of the ex off your desk, out of your wallet, and off the walls at home. Feelings of shame or failure about being single don't serve you. Get over them. You're in some very good company and finally in a position to meet someone terrific.
Make A Plan And Go For It
Develop well-thought strategies for finding a partner and devote yourself and your time to the effort. Dig in--dating requires some work, but it can also be a lot of fun. What can you do?
• Post an alluring Match.Com profile.
• Commit to sending at least one email to a new anon each day.
• Attend all the real world parties you are invited to.
• Have a party of your own and ask everyone to bring one single friend of the appropriate gender.
• Join clubs.
• Go to dances.
• Flirt with people you meet at the grocery store.
• Get rejected.
• Date as many eligible singles as possible.
Become friends with some of your dates. Friends have friends of their own, one of whom might be your future life partner. Continue to evaluate your efforts and fine-tune your strategy. Stay in the game and don't stop until you're in the relationship you desire.
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