How to start dating again (especially if it’s been a long time)
We’re not going to beat around the bush: getting back into the “scene” and learning how to start dating again is hard. After you’ve been through one or more significant relationships, moving on and becoming mentally ready to start another romance is one of the most difficult things you can do. “Why is it so tough to date this time around?” you ask?
Well, despite what you’ve heard — that you’ve just forgotten how to date, or that you’ve lost your “edge” — the answer is actually pretty simple.
The truth is, the fear of being vulnerable in front of another person is universally scary. You’ve done it at least once before, and it probably hurt when it ended.
So how do you move past that fear and find a partner who’s worth all the trouble? Whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship, a casual fling or the next love of your life, here’s some modern dating advice for those of you in need of that extra encouragement.
Learning how to date again starts with a positive mindset
Yes, this will be the cheesiest advice you get all day… but it’s also going to be the most important. We know that meeting new people is scary. But if you’re already thinking negative thoughts about dating before you go on a date, you’re not going to make any headway when you meet someone you actually like.
We’ve all fallen victim to this. “They’re not going to be as good as my ex.” “I can’t listen to one more person talk about their pets.” “I’m just going to cancel my date last minute because it won’t even be worth it.” “At this point, dating feels like interviewing people.”
If that’s you, then here’s our advice: take a break from dating for a minute. If you’ve become so jaded by the prospect of relationships that you can’t give anyone new a sliver of a chance, then you’re not ready to be on the market. As much as you might want to find your soul connection, it’s best to go solo or choose low-pressure dating options until your heart is actually ready to heal.
Keep an open mind and go for the “essence” of what you want
Once you’re ready for that long-term love, it’s okay to get picky about who you choose. But we’re here to tell you that if you give people a chance, they might surprise you.
Sure, maybe the guy you met at the bar last night didn’t like The Notebook, and maybe he listens to the worst Dad rock you’ve ever encountered. That’s pretty f---ed up, sure (I mean, The Notebook is amazing, and haters can stay mad).
But when it comes down to it, common interests do not a long-term romance make. Instead, what matters are the deep, core values another person possesses, and whether or not those values align with yours.
What does this potential partner really care about deep down? What is the “essence” of who they are, and does that essence meet your needs? Are they family-oriented, funny, serious, ambitious, clever, analytical, spontaneous…? Think about what you really want in a partner, and worry about THOSE things…
…because while a suave, cocktail-making marketing exec might seem like a super-hunk on the surface, you might just be better off with the Star Wars geek who’s got mega golden retriever energy and a heart of absolute gold.
Make your “must” list
Don’t have a journal? Now’s the time to get one. Whether you sign up for an online service or do it the old fashioned way, pulling out a journal and doing some dating exercises is the best way to get your feet wet again.
To start, make your “must” list. A must list is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a record of the qualities your partner absolutely MUST possess. This doesn’t need to be an exhaustive process; in fact, listing just a few core qualities might help you more than a super-tailored spec sheet of your ideal partner. Think of it like making a shopping list for your partner… you go through the aisles and choose which qualities you want to buy.
Our advice? Keep it true, and keep it value-based. If your top priorities are 1. “An amazing sense of humor”, 2. “Reliability” and 3. “Someone who enjoys the more flashy side of romance”, that’s probably better than 1. “He’s a certified Steelers fan,” 2. “He loves sushi” and 3. “ He doesn’t mind cats.”
Leave your ex where they belong… in the past
Have you ever gone on a date with someone who wouldn’t stop talking about their ex? You probably wanted to zip their lips shut and tell them to get over it. And you wouldn’t be wrong for saying so…
So, don’t be that person. If you’re still broken up about your breakup, don’t use other people as a way to vent. While it might feel good to get your new date on “your side” about the breakup, they’re not going to appreciate being used as a personal cheerleader.
How to start dating again: one step at a time
Learning how to start dating again is pretty tough. The truth is, you can read as many blogs as you want about it… but nothing’s going to change until you start putting yourself out there and discovering what you want.
But don’t worry. You don’t have to navigate that process all by yourself. Try talking it out with a coach first — we’re the people who write these blogs, so it’s a little bit like getting real-time dating tips that are personalized to your specific goals and needs.
Either way, we wish you the best of luck as you make your way back into the dating pool!
We are a coaching company with expertise in lots of different areas like mental wellness, career, relationships, parenting and a whole lot more. While coaching in The Journal That Talks Back™ can help you to take a deeper look at the above topics, we recognize that there are times when other resources, like therapy and/or counselling, may make more sense. As such, we have begun to develop a Mental Health Directory with well over 800 resources and we are investing time and effort into really growing it. It is also developed in a super user friendly way (we hope) so that it's easier to navigate than say another government website. Click the button below to check out our Mental Health Directory.