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Your Guide to Starting Over

OK, I’m ready to get back out there. That last relationship is in the past, and even though I have some mixed feelings, I’m actually excited about dating again. What’s my next step?

If you’re ready to begin looking for “the one” again, here’s your Guide to Starting Over.

Step 1: Prepare yourself Socially

You have plenty of reason for excitement. This is your chance to completely reinvent yourself and the way you interact with people on a social level. So spend some time thinking about how you’ve always gone about looking for potential partners. Do you want to re-think your old hang-outs? If the places you’ve looked before haven’t yielded such great dating results, then brainstorm some spots you’re more likely to find someone more compatible with you.

Also, be willing to reconsider the actual people you might choose to date. Are there people already in your life, people you already trust, who might be potential romantic partners? Maybe there’s someone you haven’t considered before who could become more than a friend in your life?

Regardless of your past social persona, you can now choose who you want to be in social situations. Decide where you want to go, and who you want to be with, and you can make changes that will allow you to create a dating life that’s fun, exciting, and even adventurous.

Step 2: Prepare yourself Externally

In addition to thinking about your social environment, spend some time considering who you are on the outside, and how you come across to other people. For example, what about your clothes, and your overall look? The 90s may have been a great decade, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep living there when it comes to your fashion and hairstyle.

Spend a little bit of money to update your overall look. Go shopping with a friend who does a good job of keeping up with the latest trends and fashions. Update your classics with trendier items that flatter your figure. Then, if you think you need it, go to a salon and let a professional you trust give you advice about how to wear your hair.

But more than that, this is about how you feel about yourself as you dive into the dating waters again. If you go back out there feeling good about how you look and about how you’ll be perceived, you’ll present yourself with more confidence and self-assurance. Then you can be more fully yourself, meaning that people will get to see the real you, as you want to be seen. Which connects to the final step…

Step 3: Prepare yourself Internally

More important than anything else as you begin dating again, is what kind of attention you pay to your internal self. Are there old wounds and baggage you need to release? If so, let them go. Few things will make a worse impression on a first date than a person who is bitter and resentful about a past relationship. So if you need to spend some time working through old feelings and even find some forgiveness for someone who hurt you, doing so will be well worth your time and effort.

Now is also a good time to let go of old dating patterns. Take a long, hard look at yourself, and think about what kinds of mistakes you seem to repeatedly make. If you consistently end up with a person who hurts you, who is emotionally unavailable, or who fails to show you respect, then that’s an issue you want to explore. Or if you keep choosing someone who’s needy and lacks a sense of self, then that’s one of your patterns you want to spend some time thinking about.

Set standards for who you want to be, and for the kinds of people you want to be with. Spend time thinking about what you want, and who you are. The more intentional you can be about what kind of dating life you want to pursue, the greater chance you’ll have of actually creating it.

We know it can be scary as you take the first steps towards rejoining the dating world. But don’t focus on that fear. Instead, think about the opportunity before you. This is your chance to get out there and be the person you’ve always wanted to be. And who knows? Maybe there’s someone else out there who’s also preparing him or herself and will be just the right person for you.