In part 1 of this 2-part article on getting back into the dating game, I listed six questions to ask yourself, after ending a relationship, to determine whether you are ready to start dating again. If you have given yourself time to heal from your last relationship and are ready to dive back in, you may still be apprehensive. We live in a world where everything is changing at a rapid pace. If you have been partnered up for a number of years, it can be especially shocking to return to single life. The game has changed, but what are the rules? First let’s look at the playing field.

Does anybody date anymore?

fine dining dateA date is like a job interview. It is typically a way to get to know someone to determine whether they meet your qualifications for spending more time together. Remember words like ‘courtship’, and ‘wooing’? If you are part of Generation Y, or what is referred to as the Millennials, these words have probably never been a part of your vocabulary. It’s because they seem to have been replaced by the terms ‘hanging out’ and ‘hooking up’.  I have to admit, that when I found myself single again after a marriage that spanned nearly two decades, even I had an aversion for the term ‘dating’. It seemed juvenile and old-fashioned to me. But after a couple of years of navigating my way through the singles scene in the 21st century, I realized there could, and should, be a middle ground between what my parents had called dating and what I was doing – which I’ll refer to as ‘making up for lost time’ or a no-strings-attached policy.

I always tell the clients that I coach to spend some time figuring out what they are looking for. Don’t let society’s idea of what the ‘single life’ should look like, or the opinions of your family or friends sway you. In today’s world there are many options. What works for one person may not work for another. Each relationship is as unique as the individuals who are in it. It is up to you to define the parameters of your relationships. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: we teach people how to treat us. If you know what you want and make your own rules, the dating game will be a lot more enjoyable.

What is your ultimate goal?

Do you just want to have fun? If you have committed to yourself for awhile, but are still looking to meet new people no strings attachedand enjoy their company, that’s fine, but be honest about it. You might want a ‘no strings attached’, or ‘friends with benefits’ situation without any pressure to make a monogamous commitment or take it any further. You may even be good at juggling a string of these relationships simultaneously. If you are someone who can enjoy physical intimacy safely, without the emotional entanglements or any remorse, this could work for you. Just know who you are and be honest about it in your encounters so you are not misleading anyone and leaving a string of broken hearts in your wake. I’m not saying the intimate details of your liaisons should be public knowledge, but lying about your intentions will come back to bite you eventually, and is not healthy for you in the long run.

If you just want to have fun, there are many ways to meet others with the same mindset, such as going to bars or dance clubs, joining singles groups, online dating sites, or doing things that interest you.

Are you looking for long-term commitment, monogamy, and consistent companionship?  If so, you need to spend time with like-minded individuals who share that goal. Weed the garden. Don’t waste time nurturing seedlings you don’t want or that will not blossom into the relationship you desire. Remember that you cannot change people.

You might meet a potential partner in the workplace or through mutual friends. Joining groups related to your interests will expose you to people with whom you already have something in common. Online dating sites allow you to view a person’s profile before investing too much time, to determine if you are compatible and want the same things.

speed datingDo you just enjoy dating?  Do you enjoy meeting new people and are willing to see where it goes without expectation or attachment to the outcome? Standard online dating sites, or speed dating events will probably work well for you. Get out as much as possible socially with friends, and be approachable. You never know who you’ll meet, where you’ll meet them, or when. Enjoy the journey.

Do you want to be spoiled and treated like a queen or a king? You may be looking for a ‘sugar daddy’ or ‘sugar momma’. There are specific dating sites that cater to these types of relationships.

Are you seeking adventure and like to travel? Do you think weekend getaways are romantic? If so, don’t limit yourself to meeting people in your hometown. The internet connects us on a global level and greatly increases our options. A long distance dating relationship requires more effort, trust and clear communication, but can keep things very exciting. If both or either party is flexible enough to relocate some day, it could also lead to something more permanent. Long distance romance can begin through online dating sites, or social media such as Linkedin, Facebook, or bride and groomTwitter. When you are traveling is also an excellent way to meet someone who shares your passion for adventure.

Do you want to get married? Regardless of our high divorce rates and low marriage rates among Millennials, many still believe in the institution of marriage. If you are looking for a potential spouse, or mate with whom to start a family or assume parental responsibilities for existing children, you will have a different set of criteria when dating than if you are looking for a casual encounter. Be clear about what those criteria are, and you are more likely to end up in a long-lasting happy marriage.

Online dating sites, mutual friends, and match-making services are all good ways to meet a potential spouse. Joining singles groups, volunteering, going to meet-ups and staying open-minded, wherever you go or whatever you do, is also a good idea. You never know where you might meet that special someone.

No matter what your goal is, first and foremost, enjoy the treasure hunt.