Recently, this question has come up for me and for so many of my friends.
This past spring, I thought that I was ready to get back into the dating scene after ending a short term relationship I had after my divorce. I was wrong!
I discovered that I still had a lot of shame and embarrassment concerning my former marriage and my career. I had a hard time talking about what was going on with me because I felt like I’m not anywhere near where I want to be financially and I’m frustrated about how slowly things are going in getting my new business off the ground.
So, here’s the 5 things I’ve learned from my own experience and what friends have shared with me over the past year. You’re probably ready to date if:
- You can be transparent with someone new. If you can freely share details about things like your past relationships and the challenges you have overcome and maybe you’re still wrestling with, then you’ll have a hard time establishing a good foundation with someone who’s trying to get to know you. I was even surprise by my reaction. It’s a good way to measure that you have a bit more work to do to overcome these areas in your life before you’re ready to date again.
- You’re willing to sacrifice your time. Starting a new relationship can initially take up more time than you think. You’re talking on the phone and meeting up to spend time together. So, you have to be willing to sacrifice time for the other person with all the other things you have competing for your time. I had just taken a temporary assignment to make ends meet when a gentleman asked to take me out. This was on a Sunday. We went on what I call a marathon date, it lasted about 4 hours. When I got home, I still had about 4-5 hours worth of work to do! I was, and still am, working 6-7 days a week, every week. I didn’t have time to really start dating. But for other reasons, that went nowhere fast.
- You’re not bitter about your ex. It’s perfectly normal to talk about your past relationships when you’re first getting to know someone. Actually, it’s expected. The problem comes in when you can’t talk about your ex without bitterness and resentment. You know, when you say things like you wish they would fall of the face of the earth (or worse) or you wish you never met them. Your blood pressure goes up when you mention their name. Your demeanor changes from happy go lucky to pissed off and intense. If you can’t talk about your ex without your eyebrows knitting together, then that’s something you don’t want to take into your next relationship.
- Your happiness doesn’t depend on a man. It’s great to want to be in a relationship. But if you feel like your happiness hinges on you having a man in your life, then that can be dangerous ground. This can lead to you having unrealistic expectations for the man in your life and you feeling empty when he can’t meet the long list of what you’re looking for. Unhappy people attract other unhappy people. And who wants that! The best thing is to discover and start doing the things that make you happy. Then you can share those things with the special person who comes along.
- You feel like you can be yourself. Yes, we all have things about our character and nature we can and should work on to become better people. No one is perfect. But, if you believe you have to change the core of who you are in order to keep a guy, then you’re not ready to date. You can only keep up that juggling act for so long before you’re miserable. It’s a red flag that you may have some work to do on your self esteem. Take the time to be comfortable in your own skin before you look to add someone to your life.
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If you’re having trouble in any of these areas, don’t feel bad. It took me about 5 months of counseling before I felt like I could put a check mark next to all of the above. It may take formal counseling or journaling your feelings or being mentored by an elder in your church.
But, there’s good news! Whatever you have to do to drop the heavy weights you may be carrying, it’s worth all the frustration, headache and hard work to experience real freedom. You’ll be in a good emotional place and will attract other emotionally healthy people who will add so much to your life. Don’t hesitate to get started so you can be in the right place at the right time when Mr. Right comes walking along.