A really good litmus test for whether you’re ready to date again is having an honest conversation with you about whether you’re genuinely open to dates progressing but also whether you have the resilience to cope with the potential for disappointment. These factors really flush out your true position because they show not only whether you’re available and what you’re available for, but also whether much of your self-esteem is tied up in the success of these dates, which would make it conditional, which would make it rocky.
Our beliefs affect our actions and ultimately when we do start dating again, we do have to put some effort in to checking in with ourselves about where we are emotionally because if we don’t, we can under or overestimate our readiness.
While there’s a lot to be said for “You won’t know until you go out there and try” the trouble is that if you’re not really aware of and willing to listen to your true feelings and thoughts and tend to act unconsciously, you’ll be inclined to either continue dating regardless of not being ready / available, or you might withdraw from dating without truly understanding what is going on because you’re not really processing the feedback and taking the time to understand your needs, wishes and expectations.
Of course it’s a date not a marriage proposal, but if each time you date someone or have a relationship, you keep using the same reasons to end it, possibly even around the same time, you’re not available. If you press the panic button when it looks like the person is really interested in you but feel right at home with someone who is more ambivalent about their feelings and intentions, you’re passing time and hiding your unavailability behind theirs.
Why you’re not emotionally available is up to you to discover but you’re not helping you by effectively using dating as an emotional airbag for avoiding you plus you’re going to cause pain to you and others.
Equally though, can you handle it if a date or few or even a relationship doesn’t work out?
I hear from people who several months, a year, sometimes even a few years on, they’re still not over someone who they had a 0-3 month involvement with. Yes you read the zero correctly. We all have hopes and expectations going into our involvements although it’s safe to say that if you tend to start building sandcastles in the sky with even a little attention, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
You’ve got to be mindful – feet firmly in the present where you can go through the discovery phase instead of operating on a bullshit frequency. Whether you go on a few dates and then think, “Oh my goodness – what if they think that they want to marry me?” and then bail, or you go on a few dates and think, “Oh my goodness – we’re going to get married, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that”, this Future Forecasting borne out of exaggeration is screwing you over as it’s based on fear and/or fantasy.
If you go on one date or you don’t even have to make it to a date before your imagination is running wild and you’ve already had a year-long relationship in your mind where you’ve fallen madly in love, done loads of stuff together which then gradually gives way to imagining breaking up or being screwed over, it’s you not dating that’s setting you up for perpetual disappointment.
If you date and you already having the feelings and expectations of a much lengthier relationship, you’re in love with being in love or possibly in love with the possibility of escaping. What’s so wrong with you and your life that you’re effectively jumping on whatever bus that passes by and making up the destination? Then the bus arrives or you get off and you think, “I’m so disappointed that that bus didn’t go to The Perfect Relationship via LaLa Land….” You made up the destination and plotted out the route when you could have found out the destination and/or paid attention to the route which would have given you an indication of the destination.
It’s not about being pessimistic but if you have a lot of hopes and expectations banking on a date or the possibility of one, you’re going to experience more pain than is necessary. You’re not giving you, this person and events a chance to unfold. They’re on a pedestal, you’re blowing smoke up their bum plus making things hard for you and that’s why the disappointment hurts so much.
You could go out together and over time and experience from the discovery phase, you then gradually increase your hopes and expectations – this is better than having blanket hopes and expectations that really have no bearing on this person and it really just becomes an inevitable process of waiting for them to flunk out.
If you don’t believe in you or relationships enough to make a genuine concerted effort in dating or you have so little faith in you that everything you hope for you rests on someone you haven’t met yet or that you hardly know, recognising these feelings and thoughts is the first step to gaining a better understanding of you so that you can address the ‘why’. If you don’t, you’ll keep thinking, feeling and doing the same things and expecting a different result and it won’t be dating; it’ll be relationship insanity. That, and your own life needs to count for something and have value with or without a relationship because when you know and value you, you don’t bumble into your choices, habitually do stuff that harms you or others, or feel as if your life is going down the pan when a date doesn’t work out.
Maybe we could all do with spending some time dating ourselves…