I have hung in there for years – enjoying his companionship, vacations, and intimacy with him – hoping against hope that he’ll wake up one day and miraculously he’ll want to be married again because I’ll be the one he wants to be married to. We “date” each other exclusively and say “I Love You” to each other all the time, but it’s frustrating and lonely because it seems to be going nowhere.
And now, here I am eight years later (not getting any younger), and today, when I broached the subject of marriage with him, he told me that he COULDN’T IMAGINE spending his life with me. OUCH. This morning I took off the ring he gave me a couple years ago (a diamond ring – but NOT an engagement ring, mind you) and now I have to get back in the game. But how??? No internet or dating websites for me. HELP. ME. PLEASE. — Not Getting Any Younger
How To Get Back in the Dating Game:
1. Get over your ex first!
Seriously, why are you so intent on getting back in the game immediately? The rest of your life isn’t going anywhere. It will still be there if you take six months (at least!) to cleanse your palate after the end of your eight-year relationship. In fact, to move directly into dating again without processing this breakup and letting yourself heal a bit would be a mistake. You’d carry the same issues that you had with your ex into the next relationship and you’d almost certainly let whatever bitterness you feel about the way things went down with him steer and affect your search for a new man. You’ll know you’re ready for the dating game again when you no longer get mad or sad thinking about your ex.
2. Decide what you’re looking for.
Do you want a life/marriage partner, a booty call, a FWB, a casual date, a rebound? Get clear about what it is you want and what it is you don’t want. Then, when you begin meeting potential dates, get clarity from them as soon as you can about what they’re looking for and, if it’s not a match, MOA and don’t waste another day, let alone eight years, hoping they “miraculously” decide they want what you want, with you. Knowing exactly what you’re looking for makes it much easier to recognize when you find it…and much easier to recognize when you’ve found something different and need to move on.
3. Change up your routine.
If you want to meet new people, start doing new things. Take a different route to work. Stop at a different coffee shop before heading into the office. Go to a different cafe for lunch (or simply go out for lunch once or twice a week if you usually brown bag it). Set up some post-work happy hours. Take some classes — photography, pottery, rock climbing, etc. The more you change your routine, the more likely you are to meet different people and the more likely one of those people might be someone you end up dating.
4. Give yourself an upgrade.
Call it a post-breakup makeover. Consider a haircut or a new color. Go to a makeup counter at a department store and ask for new makeup samples and suggestions. Increase your exercise and improve your diet to improve your fitness and release feel-good endorphins. Buy some new outfits that make you feel good about yourself, especially if you drop a few pounds from your new fitness routine. When you feel attractive, you’ll start attracting attention.
5. Set up online dates.
You’re doing yourself a big disservice ruling out the internet and dating sites. Lots of people meet their long-term match in such a way, especially if they’re older, have been out of the dating game a while, and don’t find themselves meeting many new/single people in their everyday lives. Even if you don’t meet Mr. Right, just setting up a profile, interacting with people, and maybe going on a few dates is a wonderful way to further define what you’re looking for and to practice dating again if you’re a little rusty. Try OKCupid, eHarmony, and Match.com, and follow these online dating tips to maximize your success rate.
6. Ask your friends, family, and co-workers to introduce you/set you up with anyone they think might be a good match for you.
To cast an even wider net, ask people you know and trust and like to be on the look-out for potential dates. They know people you don’t know and maybe some of those people — or one of those people, because it only takes one — will be the one you’ve been looking for. “Do you know any single guys you think I might like?” is the best way to initiate a social-circle search. Lots of people love playing match-maker, especially if it results in two people they genuinely like getting together and having a happy relationship, or at least a fun date.
7. Smile at strangers.
You never know who might smile back — or where that smile might lead!
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at email@example.com.