It can be scary getting back into dating after a long break. Perhaps you’ve been in a relationship or married for years, but have now found yourself in the single lane again. Or maybe you’ve decided to try and meet someone new having spent a period of months on your own.
You might be trying to decide how you should go about meeting new people or be worried whether you’re confident enough to start dating again.
Perhaps you’re dating again after the end of a relationship or you have feelings left over from a previous relationship that you’re still trying to move on from.
For instance, if things didn’t end well the last time, you may not be sure if you’re ready to trust someone new or even go further with that person.
We’ve put together a few tips to get you across the dating start line:
1. Make sure you are ready
It’s a brave decision to get back in the dating cycle. It takes courage to give things a go again, especially if you’ve had bad relationship experiences in the past. So feel good that you’re willing to take that step.
Remember you don’t need to do anything you don’t feel ready for. It can be confusing knowing when we’re ‘ready’ to start dating again.
You may find that a lot of people urge you to ‘get back out there and date again, and, of course, there may never come a time when you feel totally confident about things. However, there’s no obligation to make a go at it until you feel comfortable doing so.
2. Deal with feelings from previous relationships
Sometimes, past relationships can leave us with worries about what future relationships might be like. This is especially common if things ended badly, but can also apply even if things ended a bit amicably. Relationships can leave deep wounds – sometimes deeper than we really realise.
One thing that a lot of people can get hung up on is whose ‘fault’ the end of the previous relationship was. You may feel like you did everything to save the relationship while your partner did nothing. You may even feel like they totally sabotaged things. This can leave you bitter, and wary of imputing the same level of trust in someone new.
3. Know that it is not always easy
It’s not always easy, but when it comes to the end of a relationship, it can be useful to accept that responsibility is usually at least partly shared. While it wouldn’t be realistic to say that every split is 50 50, it’s often the case that both members of the couple contributed in some means towards the conditions through which the relationship ended.
Being able to acknowledge and accept our part in both the making and the breaking of the relationship can help us to understand what we’re good at in relationships – and what we perhaps find difficult.
Of course it doesn’t have to be a clear case of ‘fault’ for a relationship to end. Sometimes, changes in circumstances – or changes in people – can be enough for something that worked previously to stop working a few years down the line.
This can be equally hard to deal with, especially if you both feel you did everything you could to save the relationship. It can leave you fearful that exactly the same thing could happen again. The truth, of course, is that it could: but that this isn’t necessarily a reason to never embark on something new.
If you’re struggling to come to terms with your feelings, one thing you may find really useful is simply talking to someone. Friends and family – people you can trust and who you know will listen to you – can be a great help.
Being able to explain feelings and get different perspectives can be a really useful way of beginning to understand why you have these feelings. And sometimes understanding them – even if they stay painful to think about – can be the start of letting them go.
4. Where and how do you start?
One worry a lot of people have when it comes to re-entering the dating game is simply: how do you do it? It can be nerve-wracking thinking about how to actually meet new people, particularly if your social situation is quite different from when you were last single.
The first thing to say is: don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with worries. Sometimes it’s better to take things one step at a time.
You might like to start by simply trying to be more social. You could go along to clubs that reflect your hobbies or interests, join local societies, reconnect with old friends and so on.
It’s not necessarily about meeting someone you like immediately – it’s more about broadening your opportunities and giving yourself the chance to rediscover some of the social confidence you may feel you’ve lost.
That way, you’re not setting your expectations too high – and you may find that your chances to meet someone then increase more naturally anyway.
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