If the last time you were dating Cher still loved Sonny, William Shatner had a waistline, go-go boots were all the rage and you could actually hear yourself talk in a bar, you’re no doubt daunted by the prospect of getting back out there.
Right now, the world of awkward small talk and goodnight kisses may seem about as attractive to you as a new Britney album, or perhaps you think you’re prepared to give it another whirl. Here are four ways to know if you’re ready.
1) Riding the Peace Train
Before throwing yourself into your dating future, it’s essential that you’ve gotten over your dating past. Perhaps you simply had a bad breakup, the type where your anger for the person ultimately spilled out to encompass an entire gender. Worse still, you endured a messy divorce, and along with separating the wedding china, you decided to separate yourself from the rest of humanity. Or, worst of all, your partner passed away, and the thought of moving on made you feel disloyal and filled you with sadness.
However your heart got broken, you need to have made peace with it before successfully getting back in the game. So if you’ve stopped blaming the world for the woman who cheated on you or the man who treated you badly, and now realize that one individual doesn’t represent all of humankind, you’re ready to try again. Similarly, if you understand that marriages break down, have learned from your mistakes, know that you gave it your best and realize that you’re not solely to blame for reality not meeting your expectations, then you’re a step closer to collecting that china set all over again with someone who’s grown as you have.
And if you’re at a place where you understand that your dearly departed would want the best for you, that he or she loved you beyond his or her own happiness and genuinely wanted you to have the world, then you’re ready for a fresh start. No one forgets the past, but we can all learn from it and use it to reconnect with the world as a wiser person.
2) You’ve got a Life
At the end of a long relationship, sometimes it’s hard to remember what it was like before it – or worse, what YOU were like before it. As you settle into a routine with a partner, the line between your tastes and his or hers gets blurred, and you become an amalgam of each other’s wants and desires.
Suddenly left to your own devices, it’s then that you get to revive the old you. This is why you need recharging time between relationships: not just to lick your wounds, but to rediscover what makes you tick. Whether enjoying getting back in touch with old friends, re-enrolling in that language class or training for a marathon, you slip into a routine that’s all about you.
When you stop looking to find someone to fill the void and instead would like someone to share your already full life with, you’re really ready to start dating again. Make that special someone a big part of your life – but not all of your life.
3) Natural Resources
Let’s not fool ourselves: dating is an activity. At the very least, you need special equipment (nice clothes), special skills (the ability to write witty emails), high energy (both mental and physical) and sufficient funds (for restaurants and movie tickets, at the least). On top of this, the experience can put you on an emotional roller-coaster, so you need a lot of mental energy and a thick skin to successfully stay on course.
If you don’t have at least three-quarters of these resources, then perhaps you need some more recharging time. If you have more of these resources than not, then get them sharpened up for the job at hand – you’re ready.
4) Human Sacrifice
You’re single, you’re busy, you’re sociable – you’ve got it made. When you want to treat yourself to a new golf bag or purse, there’s no cosigner to wag a disapproving finger. If you want to stay up all night watching TV and eating snacks, you do – and ram as much popcorn between the cushions as you like. Drink with the team after work? No problem. Two-hour phone call to your friend up North? Grab your cell and settle in. Dessert BEFORE dinner? Knock yourself out.
There’s a lot to be said for the single life, and if that’s how you’re feeling, then this may not be the right time to start dating again. But if you’re tired of getting everything your own way and aware of a nagging notion that there’s more to life than another Survivor marathon and a freezer full of Lean Cuisines, perhaps it’s time to reconsider.
Having a partner in your life can be enriching, moving, exciting, rewarding and downright fun, and at some point, you weigh those benefits against those of being single, and know in your heart that it’s time to tear yourself off of the sofa and grow.
For related content, check out our Divorced Mom’s Guide to Dating site here!