I walked out of a coffee shop last week, listening to my coworker discuss his fears and apprehension regarding the dating scene. Divorced and hurt over previous relationships, he was firmly closed off at the suggestion of setting up a Match account or a dating app to get back on the scene. I promised that we’d continue the conversation later and the question of, “when should you start dating again” marinated in the back of my head the rest of the day.
After a divorce or a serious relationship, when should you start dating again? What does it mean to feel “ready”? Is it multiplying how many years you’ve spent in your relationship by half to equal a years/months on when you should get “back out there”? Why do we resist so much? When do we know it’s time?
It’s a difficult, emotionally-charged decision to be making and many of us don’t know when we’re “ready” to put ourselves back out there, juggling feelings of nostalgia from previous relationships, anxiety from the past pain and ultimately fear of the unknown. We wonder whether the next man we date will be better or worse than our ex. What ultimately scares us more? Is it letting go of our ex and finding someone even more amazing? Or are we scared that we won’t find someone else that surpasses the love we lost and be forever hung up on “what could have been”? Are we worried about rejection? Are we resistant about starting something new with a complete stranger, sharing parts of our souls, lives and body that are so accustomed to loving one person? The answer was a resounding yes to all of these questions for me. I was scared about everything when it comes to dating.
I was scared to open up again, to let someone in, to trust again, to feel emotions again after going through the storm, destruction and recovery of finding and losing love earlier. It would be like asking New Orleans, “are you ready for another possible hurricane? The next one may be more intense”.
Dating after a serious relationship is scary.
But you know what’s even scarier?
Being a relationship that is horrible for you and staying with it because you think should.