Often one of the first questions you get after losing a partner is, “When are you going to start dating again?”
It doesn’t matter whether your significant other passed away or you went through a divorce or break-up. Everyone immediately assumes you should get right back on the dating horse – maybe even you. How do you know you’re ready to date again?
The truth is, you may not be ready to date for quite a while. Luckily, there’s no rush, no matter what your well-meaning friends and family might be implying. You should take all the time you need to come to terms with where you are now in your life before thinking about moving on to the next stage.
Eventually, you may reach the point where dating starts to look like a possibility again. But are you ready? How do you know for sure?
Take a bit of quiet time and think about where you’re at mentally and emotionally. See if you’re at a place where you can say “Yes!” to the following questions:
Do you know who you are as a single person, and are you happy with that person? When you’re in a committed relationship for a long period of time, your identity begins to blend with your partner. It’s not just what you want. You have to take into account what he or she wants, as well. Your goals, interests, and habits are all affected by the relationship.
When you’re single again, you have to sort out what things you like because you like them, and what you like because your partner liked them. What are your new goals? How do you adjust your daily actions and habits?ÿ
It takes some time to figure all this out. If you start dating too soon, you won’t have a chance to sort out who you are before you start adjusting to fit your new partner. Make sure you know yourself, and you’re happy with the person you are, before you start making changes.
Have you forgiven everything that needs forgiving? The end of a relationship isn’t easy. If it ends because one partner passes away, the remaining partner has to deal with sadness and even anger over everything they’ve lost.
It’s common to be mad at your partner for leaving, even if you know it wasn’t their fault. Sometimes you’re angry with yourself for not doing more, or angry with the universe for making you go through so much pain.
Your emotions are just as complicated if you’ve gone through a divorce or a difficult break-up. When your relationship ends by choice, whether it’s yours, your partner’s, or a mutual decision, there are usually painful circumstances leading up to that choice.
If you’re still dealing with the hurt and anger from your loss every day, you won’t be able to focus on creating a new relationship with someone you’re dating. Your focus will be on what you lost, not on what you might gain.
You’ll find yourself expecting those same bad things to happen all over again instead of giving your new relationship a chance to develop on its own. It’s not fair to the person you’re dating, and it’s not fair to you, either. You deserve a chance to find happiness when you’re ready.
If you feel like you’ve worked through your emotions and forgiven everyone who needs forgiving – your partner, the universe, yourself – then you’re where you need to be to get a fresh start.
Are you excited about meeting new people? If you’re ready to date again, you should be excited about the idea. You’ll probably be nervous, maybe even scared, too. That’s normal. But excitement should definitely be in the mix.
If you feel like you’re only trying to date because you’re supposed to, because your friends are pressuring you, or because you’re scared to be alone, you’re probably not ready yet. Those feelings are your subconscious’s way of telling you it still has some issues to work out.
If you’re feeling scared or reluctant, take a step back and focus on the first two questions again – do you know and like who you are? Have you made your peace with your past? Once you’re in a place where you can say yes to both of those questions, the answer to the third question will be a yes, too.
The answer to how to know you’re ready to date again is a personal one that only you can decide for sure. When you’ve found happiness with who and where you are in life, you’ll find that dating again sounds like an adventure you’re ready to take.