There are loads of reasons why someone might have been out of the dating game for a while. Perhaps you’ve had some big career move and not had the time. Perhaps you’ve just decided to take some time for yourself. Or perhaps you’ve gone through a breakup and needed to process your feelings. Whatever the reason, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being single and enjoying it. Dating is fun, but it’s not mandatory.
However, many of us do want relationships eventually, even if we have had a bit of a break. But how do you get back into dating after some time away from it all?
We have some ideas.
Move on from the past
Before you go anywhere near the dating world, it’s important that you make peace with your past relationships, no matter how they ended. That doesn’t mean you have to like your ex or forget all about former partners, but you do need to at least be in a place where the people and events of the past no longer have a hold on you and therefore significantly affect your behaviour.
If, for example, the idea of dating only conjures up images of exes and unpleasant memories, then it might not quite be the time to look for your next romance. Dating should be fun and exciting, and even though it will make you nervous occasionally, it shouldn’t terrify you completely.
Also, holding on to past relationships will make you want to compare past and present, which often results in overthinking and dating difficulties. Letting go of the past, especially if it’s traumatic, is by no means easy, but it is important in the long run. If you’re struggling, it’s perfectly acceptable to go and see a mental health professional who can help guide you through your feelings and get you ready to experience dating and intimacy again.
Know what you want
No, we don’t mean you should go and interrogate your date like it’s a CIA interview. But you should go into the dating world with some idea of what it is you are looking for. Different people have different goals in life and, at least for some of those goals, it’s important that partners agree to one extent or another. Take some time to consider your life, your career, your family, and where you want it all to go in the long run before committing to finding that special someone.
Talking about kids and mortgages might not be first date material, mind you. But, eventually these topics will come up if the first few dates go well and things start getting serious. The reason we say that you should know what you want going in is that it can help to avoid relationships going on for months, or even years, when there is a fundamental disagreement at its core.
Finding out your partner doesn’t like peanut butter 6 months into dating isn’t a big deal, but finding out they don’t want kids, or that they’re moving to Asia for work next year, is. Things like that can be relationship ending, no doubt, so giving them some thought early on and having those conversations is important.
We can’t tell you when exactly to have these conversations, that will depend on you and the person you’re dating. All we can say is that they are conversations that MUST happen if dating is going to work out long-term.
It might sound cliché, but the truth is that dating only really works if you’re being true to yourself while you’re doing it. We all want to give good first impressions, of course, and with that comes a certain mount of acting in the form of things like ’being on best behaviour’, but other than that you should always try to be as open and honest with your dates as possible.
Naturally, the level to which we want to open up to a person is based on how much we like them. We’re not saying you have to spill your deepest, darkest secrets to the person in your building whose been asking you out for ages but is actually the most boring individual to ever draw breath. Obviously, it’s easier to be ourselves around people we like, people we enjoy spending time with, and people who we trust or, in the case of dating, are starting to trust.
If, however, you are on a date with someone who is ticking your boxes, then it’s important to ward off those desires to put on airs and graces and pretend to be things you might not actually be. You want the person you’re with to fall for the real you and not be surprised later down the line when affectations drop away.
Besides, honesty and genuineness are widely regarded as being highly attractive features, and people will likely be more drawn to your real personality than any you might conjure up anyway. We know it can be hard to have the confidence to be true to yourself, especially with strangers and in already slightly anxious dating environments, but we’re here to tell you that you’re amazing, we think you’re doing great, and we’re sure that the person you’re seeing will think you’re fantastic too!
Know that is ok not to be ok
Sometimes, you might start dating again and after a few attempts you’ll realise that maybe you weren’t ready after all. That is completely fine and there should never be any pressure on you to date when you don’t want to or don’t feel ready for it.
It can be easy to convince ourselves that we feel up for something when in reality there’s still some work to do. Sometimes, the best way to really figure out where we’re at in our minds and in our lives is to put ourselves in a situation and see how it affects us. With dating, it can be easy to convince yourself that you’re ready when your making plans on your bed, but those feelings can change very suddenly when you’re actually in a restaurant with an actual, real-life person sat opposite you on a date.
The key thing here is that the most important aspect of all of this is your mental health and happiness. You can start and stop dating as many times as you want in your life, and nobody can tell you what’s best for you, except, of course, you.
But, if you do decide to get out there and play the field, then all that left for us to do is wish you happy dating!