Have you recently ended a long-term committed relationship and are terrified of being single again? Do you love being single again and having options, but find that reentering the dating scene is like landing on an alien planet where no one is speaking your language? If you’ve been out of the loop for a decade or more, you may feel like Rip Van Winkle. The game has changed, but where is the ‘rule’ book? We live in a world of texting, sexting, and Skyping, and are inundated with online dating sites. The good news is that with online access to the entire planet, our odds of meeting ‘Mr. or Ms. Right’ have greatly increased. The bad news is that with online access to the entire planet, we may also meet a lot more ‘Mr. or Ms. Wrongs’. Navigating your way through dating profiles, email introductions, and possibly long distance relationships is no easy task. You can have the relationship you desire, whether that’s casual dating, a friend with benefits, or finding the love of your life, but first you have to know how to navigate through the maze of dating in the 21st century. That means understanding the new ‘dating’ scene, understanding who you are at this point in your life, and knowing what you want and how to ask for it. The following are some tips for reentry into single life in the technology age. In part one of this series, we’ll address evaluating your readiness to get back in the game.
One of life’s most traumatic events is ending a relationship. It could be compared to suffering a car wreck. How do you know if you’ve taken the proper amount of time to heal? Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- Am I still harboring anger or resentment toward my ex? The opposite of love is indifference, not hate. Hate is a passionate emotion. If thoughts of your ex still evoke a strong emotional response, you have probably not allowed yourself enough time to heal.
- Am I looking for a commitment with someone else even though I can’t commit to myself? Try taking a time out and make a commitment to yourself not to commit to anyone else for a definitive period of time. Allowing yourself the time to heal wounds from your previous relationship will prevent you from carrying toxins into your next one.
- Am I happy being single? Do you enjoy spending time alone and doing things solo or with your friends? People who are happy with themselves in their current situation are more likely to form happy pairings. We are responsible for our own happiness. No one else can ‘make’ us happy.
- Have I done an autopsy of the dead body? Can you admit to your own failings, or how you could have done things differently in your last relationship? It’s easy to blame the ex for our pain. In fact, it’s our tendency to do so as a defense mechanism to enable us to detach from a lost love, but it takes two to make it and two to break it. Remember that anyone who is interested in you is only human, just like you. It is unlikely that they intentionally set out to mess with your head or your heart. Much of the pain we experience in life and especially in relationships stems from having preconceived expectations of others, and then being disappointed when they are not met. Change your perception, change your experience. Life is 20% what happens to you, and 80% how you deal with it.
- Do I know what I want? Sometimes we have to identify what we don’t want before we can know what we do want. Know what you are and are not willing to tolerate in a future relationship. Have you ever gone to the supermarket without a list when you were hungry, and looked in your fridge or pantry the next day and said ‘how did I end up with all this crap?’ Looking for a relationship without a ‘shopping list’ or specific intention will yield similar results.
- Do I need to be dating? If you feel you need to jump back into the dating scene quickly in order to get over someone else, mask your pain, or fill a void in your life, you are probably acting prematurely.
Once you’ve determined that you are, in fact, ready to either wade or dive head first back into the dating pool, it’s important to know what’s changed since you last went for a swim. In part two of this article I’ll address current dating trends, options, terminology, and the role of technology in 21st century dating.