A few weeks ago, I wrote about casual relationships and how so many people don’t recognise that they’re in one because they see the hallmarks of a relationship, such as being together over a period of time, sleeping together, being introduced to others etc, but they don’t recognise that there are crucial landmarks missing such as commitment, consistency, intimacy, progression and balance.

One of the biggest sources of angst from readers is the whole question of starting over, dating again, trusting again, and ultimately knowing if they’re ready for a relationship/to start dating again.

What I find particularly interesting is that while the minority will avoid dating and attempting to forge connections with other people while they are hurting/rebuilding, the majority of people I come across are eager to restart even if it is patently clear that they are not over their ex or are just not emotionally ready to date.

This is why there are so many casual relationships masquerading as full on relationships: Because too many people don’t want to do the emotional work and take enough time to heal from previous relationships and/or get themselves emotionally ready.

Instead we, as is often the case, try to take a shortcut and we decide that we will date because we want some attention, we want to feel validated, and actually, more importantly although we often won’t admit it, we want to avoid dealing with the feelings about ourselves or the previous relationship.

What happens as a result is that you get half interested or not all that interested parties who are more than happy to pass time. The person on the receiving end is like a stopover/layover, or even a rehab. Sometimes both parties are.

We end up knowing they’re not The One or that the relationship is not for us, but we see benefits to staying in the meantime or fear having to start over. Maybe we hope to convince ourselves into it being right. Of course, in one or even both of you feeling this way, your relationship will lack the landmarks of a healthy relationship.

People who avoid doing the emotional work assume that if someone is that special, they will get over their ex or their problems will magically disappear. It is not the job of others to get you over your ex – you have to get over them. You have to sort your problems or your relationship becomes your problem and you’ll likely make shady choices based on your frame of mind.

People who avoid doing the emotional work assume the right to find themselves an emotional airbag to cushion any uncomfortable feelings. This is using someone.

People who avoid doing the emotional work are often attention hungry which is why dating sites end up being so popular as it’s a quick fix. You’re not going to be emotionally available again if you persist in seeking short-term fixes and avoiding feeling out your feelings by dousing yourself in attention.

People who avoid doing the emotional work are often willing to date a few people at a time, or have someone in reserve somewhere in case the current one doesn’t work out. Don’t treat someone like an option!

We live in instant times. Instant attention, instant connection, instant money (well not so much since the credit crunch), instant sex, quick, fast, shortcut everything.

It’s like getting over a relationship isn’t the done thing anymore.

It’s like people can’t hack being single – they have to be dating or at the very least sleeping with someone. Somebody, somewhere has to be giving us attention. In olden times, casual sex was just sex – now it’s often the fringe benefits of a relationship without the relationship.

A lot of us are selling ourselves short and not stretching ourselves and getting uncomfortable.

I’ll be honest with you – you don’t need to be 100% ‘healed’ from whatever your issues were to be ready to date again. I know I wasn’t. But you do need to be far enough along, i.e. the majority of the way, that you are 1) over your ex or even ex’s and 2) you are emotionally available and 3) you are actively working on yourself, after all, we’re a work in progress.

You need to be able to have an honest conversation with yourself, know your values and boundaries, and be willing to date from an honest place which means you’ll be uncomfortable being in a dishonest relationship.

I felt safe to try again because I was willing to be emotionally available which included allowing myself to be vulnerable, being willing to feel all my feelings and not avoid anything, and it is part of the fabric of my life to ensure that every single day, I remain committed to treating myself with love, care, trust, and respect with my boundaries, values etc. And yeah, obviously I was over all of my ex’s.

Doing all of these things gives you the freedom to go out there and live and love again. By being willing to be honest with yourself and treat you decently, if issues arise, you’ll deal with them. You’ll live to love another day. Sometimes you can’t know till you’re in it that you have stuff to deal with and that’s OK – the problem arises when you do nothing.

I warn you to be careful of rushing to date and ‘love’ again because time and again I see people on this site and beyond who are 1) not over their ex 2) emotionally unavailable and 3) not actively working on themselves. With the latter, some will go part way, but not all the way, and the moment that it gets too ‘honest’ for them, they’ll say it’s too hard or look for a shortcut in someone else. This is how they end up in relationship insanity.

There is no fire. It will not kill you to take a few months and put the time and energy into focusing on yourself, dealing with any cobwebs and excess baggage that are getting in the way, and get yourself genuinely emotionally available for a relationship. Trust me, you’ll help the dating pool.

Your thoughts?

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in my bookshop.

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