If you’ve been through the emotionally wrought process of a long-term relationship ending, it’s doubtful that dating again is the first thing on your mind. But eventually, you’ll be interested in seeking a new companion. You lost your partner, but you didn’t lose your desire to connect intimately with another person. Those that marry once are more statistically likely to marry again. Though your partnership has ended, your relationship with yourself and what you need continues. This is all to say — don’t feel guilty for feeling lonely. It doesn’t mean you don’t value the person that you are no longer with. It means you are alive. Here are some step-by-steps to follow in looking for love:
First, Go Shopping
Retail therapy might sound trite, but dating takes confidence. One way to give yourself a boost is to get some fun clothes to wear. You will need clothes that are flattering and flirty for the coffee date and some fun sexier clothes for the evening dates that will follow. If you’re a man, get some new shirts and shoes. Women like men who put some effort into looking good. Google around to find restaurants and places that you might enjoy taking someone. A little homework and a new shirt will go a long way. If you are thinking “Look, I spend most of my time in sweatpants, shouldn’t I just be myself?” Would you like to spend time with someone who isn’t willing to put their best foot forward? They’ll be plenty of time to wear sweats once you get comfortable with a new companion.
Next, Put Out the APB
Dating has a momentum to it. In the time since you’ve had your long-term relationship and the time you spent processing your loss, your dating mojo has gone to zero. Don’t expect the first date you go on to be miraculously the right person — not saying it never happens — but it probably won’t. Tell friends who know you and are in healthy relationships that you would like to go to coffee with anyone they think might be a decent person.
Don’t put the pressure of a list on your friends — for example, “they have to have an executive job, no kids, love dogs, and go to bed early” — that’s not important now. What’s important is that you simply get into motion. Just start with coffee. You may have a lot of new feelings. Take it slow, so you can stay in touch with your instincts. The temptation will be to rush into something committed, but take your time. You’ll find as you go on your set-ups, you’ll have more confidence to jump online, flirt at the grocery store, or look up an old flame. By going on dates with different people, you’ll pick from a place of relaxation, not desperation.
Fully Experience Your Feelings — All of Them
As you know from the end of your last relationship, it’s a high stakes game out there. Anyone who says that dating is easy probably found their soulmate at summer camp. Dating as an adult is entirely different. You bring a profoundly evolved set of life experiences, having loved and lost. You are going to have feelings — grief still being one of them. These are all part of the miraculous process of love. Allow it all in. Then look for the joy in rediscovering your own heart. Remember to laugh as much as you can. The best date you’ve been on can come on the heals of the worst one. You never know what is around the corner, so keep your chin up.
You are honoring your needs when you give love another shot. Congrats on your journey so far. Our ability to love is our greatest gift. You can, and will, love again. So smile, dress your best, and get out there!