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?
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!