I think the number one question we ask ourselves after going through a break-up is when is the right time to start dating again? Well, in my opinion there isn’t a right or wrong time. Getting back into dating is about the frame of mind you’re in and you need to ensure you’re ready and not dating for the wrong reasons.
For example, it probably isn’t a good idea to get back out there dating because:
– Your ex is dating someone (or everyone!)
– You want someone to fill a gap in your life
– You want to get your confidence back by proving to yourself that people can be into you or find you attractive
– You have nothing else to do
The secret to getting back into the dating game and enjoying it, is to not be dependent on it. You should view dating as an enhancement to your life as opposed to it consuming it. To help you stay in control, you should simulataniously take part in activities outside of dating that lend themselves to making you feel confident authentically and enable you to have fun.
“You should view dating as an enhancement to your life as opposed to it consuming it.”
Understand your dating fears
It’s important to look at your beliefs and possibly fears around dating – we all have them after a break-up! So maybe you’re actually dreading dating, because you’re worried you’ll get hurt, you’re worried that you won’t know what to say when on dates, or you’re worried you’ll get rejected. These are all very normal thoughts to have, and so it starts with not being afraid to admit to yourself that you might have hang-ups around your ex and what happened in your past relationships. It’s much better to have that conversation with yourself and get really clear on what those issues are, rather than ignoring them and hoping that dating will cure them.
Discover what you want
What I believe it truly means to rebuild your confidence and have a good mind-set towards dating is having a clear understanding of what your own boundaries and values are. Boundaries are really about knowing what you will and won’t put up with. Those times where you might not have listened to your gut feeling – those are where your boundaries should be instilled. You can never predict what is going to happen in dating and relationships, but if you’re clear on what your boundaries and values are, what is important to you in another person, and how you want to be treated in a relationship or on a date, you will have so much more confidence and self-assurance. This self-confidence will allow you to weed out the people who aren’t a good fit for you quicker, and when it comes to attracting people you will find someone who is good for you as they will see how positively you treat yourself. People can pick up on the slightest insecurities – even on first dates!
“You can never predict what is going to happen in dating and relationships, but if you’re clear on what your boundaries and values are…you will have so much more confidence”
I’d also like to emphasise that this isn’t about suddenly becoming super high maintenance or writing off people with the slightest imperfection. It’s more about committing to changing the things that you are in control of, and walking away from the people who you know aren’t aligned with your values. This feeling of being in control should help you avoid feelings of anxiety towards the dating process. It actually gives you a lot more flexibility about dating different types of people too. You’ll find that those ‘checklists’ that you might have relied on around how tall someone is or what job they have get bumped down in favour of less superficial values.
Create a life outside of love
A big part of harnessing your inner confidence (and therefore being confident on dates and having things to talk about) is creating a life outside of love that fulfils you, challenges you, and makes you feel like you’re striving for something or creating momentum in some way. When you start doing things that push you out of your comfort zone you will learn so much more about who you are and hopefully meet more people and have more conversations.
“People are attracted to individuals who have things going on in their life, and who are in control of their own self-worth”
You might find that you bring a whole different kind of energy to your dates, which will instantly make you feel more attractive. People are attracted to individuals who have things going on in their life, and who are in control of their own self-worth. If you arrive on a date with an agenda wrapped in anxiety you will create an instant barrier that won’t allow things to flow.
It’s fine to have anxieties about dating – we’ve all had them at some point and nerves are good, especially when you can turn them into excitement. However once you’ve identify your anxieties, ensure you look at ways to work on them to figure out where your boundaries and values are. This will help you fill your life with things that make you feel good and you’ll be setting yourself up for a much more fun and fulfilling dating life.
Laura Yates is an international dating coach, writer and speaker specialising in helping people through break-ups and heartbreak and getting them on the path to finding fulfilling and healthy relationships. You can find Laura at laurayates.org and @laurayatesUK on Twitter.