Insecurity drove me into cohabitation after I gave up on dating. It had been a long time since I honestly put myself “out there” and it was daunting. I told myself time and again I knew what I was doing. After all, shouldn’t I at least know what NOT to do? Who not to see or be with? But after many disappointing encounters, I maneuvered myself into a relationship with a customer and 6 months later we were living together. I was a single mother to a difficult teenage daughter, recently divorced and definitely disenchanted. My 17-year marriage had been fading away for 16 years and I didn’t realize it until it finally imploded. My daughter, angry with me for leaving, lived with her father until he became incapable of supporting her emotionally or financially. So here I was, a reluctant daughter, divorced, tiny apartment, cleaning up the financial flotsam of divorce, and trying to figure out what to do next. My daughter was gone every weekend and I found myself lonely for companionship.
It had been almost 30 years since I had actually dated.
If it has been awhile since you dated, are trying to figure out where to start, or are unsure of what you are looking for, here are some pointers from my own experience.
1. There are many places to meet people with similar interests and goals. Dating sites are all designed to help people “hook up”. There are many to choose from and some are even free. If you do meet someone on line, correspond by email for a few weeks before you exchange numbers or meet. If they are in a hurry that might be a big red flag. If you want to be less obvious and try out the waters first, there is a wonderful site designed to help you “find your people” - www.meetup.com. This site is designed to help you find others with similar interests and there are many for singles of all ages available as well as groups that meet who love to read, like certain kinds of sports and activities, enjoy certain kinds of food, etc. Getting out and having conversations with others, learning to enjoy being and doing again is vital research into what makes you happy… or what makes you “tick”. Of course there are church groups for singles, and many other ways to connect…get creative and do your research.
2. When you find someone who interests you, meet on neutral ground, take your own car, and make it a casual coffee date. Every coffee shop is filled with people meeting for the first time. When you meet someone on line you can never be sure what you will “end up with”. I would get there early, park out of site of the front doors if possible, and purchased my own coffee. I felt more secure by doing this and it gave me an out if I didn’t like the person who showed up. An hour for coffee is a small investment and if things go well, then you can make plans to head to dinner or meet at a later time. I also Googled their names to see what came up on the internet before I was alone with them in a car, etc. One time this paid off by revealing someone’s registration as a sex offender. Yes it happens, but it is rare.
3. Be honest from the start! There are a lot of folks who don’t like themselves so they lie and hope you will fall for the illusion they have created for themselves. (God bless them) If I can create what I think is the perfect image of myself on line, I will attract those who will fall in love with the image. What does this make me? A liar, a cheat and a thief. A liar because I misrepresented myself to the folks on line. They fall for the lie, (or that is my intention) and that makes me a thief because I steal time from them and myself that could be spent being honest and real. Case in point: I had dinner with a man whose story and photo had attracted me. He seemed handsome, successful, kind and seemed to have a healthy concern for his well-being. Subsequently, the man who showed up for dinner was 50 pounds heavier, 10 years older, and continuously lamented his old life and who he USED to be. He cheated me out of several days of what could been spent corresponding with someone who was honest. He lied to me because he wasn’t happy with himself and so cheated himself out of what could have been honest communication. Out of kindness and a desire to know more, I spent the meal with him but declined dancing afterward. I also paid for my own meal. I let him know in as kind a way as I knew how, that I believed he had made a mistake by misrepresenting himself and that it would have been much better if he had been honest. We can save a lot of time and energy by just naturally being who we are.
4. Ask questions and be prepared for what you are looking for before you go…but be open to new experiences as well. It took a painful breakup for me to understand why knowing what I was looking for was so important. I realized after a lot of soul searching and deep emotional work that what led to his stealth-like departure had nothing to do with me. I had been honest with what my needs were, and honest with how not having them met made me feel. He felt incapable of delivering, left for work and never returned. OUCH! In retrospect I now understand how many red flags I ignored to “try and make it work”. Now that I have been in a healthy and loving relationship for 7 years, I understand what it takes…and it doesn't require a lot of work. When you get clear on what it is you want, you will attract that to you. Knowing who I am and what I want was the key, and love in this relationship comes easily.
5. Know who you are. To heal from my past, I had to get really clear on what I believed and see how I sabotaged my own joy. I had to get face-to-face with my own feelings in order to eliminate the things in my life that were blocking me from having what I wanted most. And it was never about the material things or the person – it was about how I felt at the end of the day when it was just me, God, and my pillow. Journal, get involved in support groups, see a counselor or coach, take stock of the things that no longer serve you, read books that appeal to you, listen to podcasts, and/or attend workshops. Do whatever it takes to get a true picture of who you are – with everything else stripped away. I decided to stop hunting for someone or something to satisfy my needs, and began to hunt for myself. When I finally found her, the rest came easily.
So there you have it, just a few ideas on how to get yourself back into the dating scene. Remember, all our fears are based on past experiences…not current ones. You can change your perspective and therefore change your “luck”.
Who are you when you look in the mirror? Am I the kind of person I want to be with?
We are all curious about something. Even in the course of a day fraught with routine, each one of us have wondered what things might have been, or asked ourselves what we would do instead, "if only".
How many of us are as happy as we could be? Ever wondered what it takes to get there? Most of us get caught up in the day-to-day routine of just "getting through it". At the end of the day we lack the energy to seek anything else, to do anything new. By the time we get finished with the "have to's" there is no time for the "want to's". And before we know it we have given up because we tell ourselves we have missed out on the opportunities.
But what if we decided to make curiosity a mantra, a watchword, or an emotional and spiritual focus? How could giving ourselves permission to be curious again change our lives? Children live in that place of curiosity and find wonder around every corner. We have that in us, we always have. What would it be like to make that our dangling carrot, our lure for the day?
Giving up 30 minutes of sleep to give yourself time to ponder, to explore and to be curious might reveal life changing information. It could be a foundation for a day filled with possibilities. What would happen if you started writing down things you were interested in?
It might go something like this...
"I am curious to know what it would feel like to be/do_________. Be strong? Sing on a stage? Write a story? Hike the canyon? Paint a picture? Be a part of a group of folks interested in________? You control it. You fill in the blanks. Write about things that would delight you and keep you coming back for more. And as you explore things you would like to learn about, experience, or create, you will start to have new ideas connected to those desires. Best of all, the feelings you experience will begin to energize and move inside you. In addition, those changing feelings become like a magnet to the universe that begins to draw the possibilities to you. The best thing is that in the few extra minutes you carve out for yourself in the morning, you set in motion the trajectory of your life.
Yes, it is that easy.
This is not goal setting, this is "dream allowing". It is a process to open up to the idea that those things you keep putting off or didn't believe you were entitled to, just might be possible. Write it down, make it real (at least on the page) and see what happens to your disposition. Do it often, and as your perspective toward the possibilities change, so will your life.
Being curious is an invitation to the life you were meant to live. The answers will come if you are willing to look.
What will you be curious about today?
Click on the green "comments" below and let me know what you find!
Good morning my darling! Welcome to a brand new day! In front of you is a new opportunity to create and experience things that you have never encountered. What will you do with this gift that you have been given?
Ahhhh….look at those gorgeous eyes filled with wonder! Remember the days when you were afraid to look? They are nothing but litter decomposing in the light of your current understanding.
What a smile you have! How easy it is to smile today knowing you have so many ways in which to move into this life you desire.
What adventures will you go on today? What does your heart tell you? When you sit in the sunshine quietly, who speaks to you? When your mind encounters negativity today, be kind and let it go with love. How you speak to yourself determines how you show yourself to others. What would you like them to see?
You have traveled roads that no one else has traveled, seen things that no one else has seen. You have been well equipped for this day by the knowledge that you are strong and capable and can endure and overcome things that not many will attempt willingly – but you made it! Bravo my dear one – you have a strength that many seek!
This body you travel in, is nothing but a vessel, yet it has gotten you this far and can be trusted. What will you do to honor its loyalty to you today?
Your gratitude for this day is the song you sing to those around you to help them see what is good, and possible, and can fill them with delight. Keep singing! There are many who will hear your voice.
Rest assured that you do not travel alone. Many are here with you. Many are waiting for you to call. Reach out and know that you will have what you need when you need it. You have only to ask.
You have so many talents and abilities that are waiting to blossom. Explore them. They are the core of your being and are only waiting for permission to evolve and feel the light of your love. You will know them when you seek them. The evidence of this has been with you since your conception and is just waiting to be embraced.
Your heart heals easily when you give it what it longs for. Seek it.
Life is extremely important to me because it used to be so difficult – and now it isn’t. The littered byways of my past gave me a foundation of grace and multiple victories in whose honor was birthed gratitude. It was never particularly easy and always came after I was rescued through some spiritually serendipitous event. The one common theme in all of it was - I had to surrender.
Surrender in this sense is about coming to terms with who I really am rather than measuring my success and failure by the people around me or what kind of job I have. It is about identifying what is real and what is imagined, and paying attention to what is going on inside of my own head. Sitting still with my own thoughts saved me, even when I was too terrified to look. When I am resisting and struggling to make sense out of something and can’t get past it, I know it is time to surrender.
Being able to pull together on paper where my thoughts kept taking me, provided a place to start. It was the first tangible evidence to myself that I was doing something about whatever problem I used as a reason for my unfortunate life. Even in the midst of confusion, I can make lists of how I feel, what I see, and what I believe the cause or the solution might be. An architect must have a plan before he can construct a house…and so it is with the building of my own character and the richness of my own life.
Seeing how my brain operates in black and white was the beginning I needed to turn my life around. It revealed to me how I thought about myself and others. Utilizing a journal and just unloading the “head committee’s” agenda on paper gave me glorious insight to my own fears and self-doubt. Going to someone I could trust to be non-judgmental (counselors, mentors, coaches) about what I had discovered, gave me relief because now those thoughts had somewhere to land. The more I was able to process through all the things that kept me stuck, the freer I felt. Dumping that stuff on paper is cathartic and gives me a starting point for the journey of change.
Most of us go through life on auto-pilot, out of touch with our feelings and allowing the world around us to dictate how we behave each day. When you wake up enough to realize you don’t like the place you are in emotionally, it is time to take some action. Capture that awareness in a journal so that you can step outside of the emotion and become a willing observer instead. Surrendering to the human need to understand may just empower you to find victory in the process.
What is keeping you from surrendering today?
Every blog I share comes from the heart and has a challenge or a question within it to help others explore new ways of thinking. I hope that as you read the blogs you would consider starting conversation by commenting. We can learn so much together!