I’ve made a lot of progress, but I feel so unsure of myself now when it comes to the idea of dating again. I had started to feel like I was in a good head space to resume dating, but then I had a series of terrible events occur, including a death in my family and a major increase in stress at work. I know that right now is NOT the time to start dating again as my feelings are so raw and I need to get back in a good head space where I can look for a good potential partner and when I can also BE a good potential partner. But how I will I know when the time is right? I’m in my late 20s, so I know from reading this site that I have so much life ahead of me and time to find the right person, but I wonder when you or other readers have decided after a series of significant losses that it’s time to get out there and date again. How will I know when I can be available and open without putting my stress and grief on someone else? — Not Yet Ready, But When?
You’ll know you’re ready to try dating again when the risk of being ghosted, rejected, led on, “used for sex,” or dumped after developing feelings and investing significant time doesn’t feel so overwhelming that you don’t know how you’d survive that. You’ll know you’re ready when you reject the mantra “all guys are jerks” (or, conversely, “all women are bitches”). You’ll know you’re ready when, despite past hurts, you have genuine faith that there’s a match for you — someone who is as flawed as you are, but who is willing and eager to work through challenges and build a mutually-supportive and loving relationship with you. You’ll know you’re ready when the idea of spending a few hours in the company of someone new fills you with more excitement than dread, and when you’re as interested in the impression he’ll make on you as you are on the impression you’ll make on him. You’ll know you’re ready when you view past relationships more as learning lessons than enormous emotional set-backs. You’ll know you’re ready when current challenges take a small part of your psychic space and mental energy and you aren’t routinely having meltdowns over the state of your life and fantasizing about someone somehow saving you from emotional turmoil with the power of his love.
In the meantime, be your own savior. Love yourself through your challenges and potential emotional turmoil. Remind yourself of the work you’ve already done, the progress you’ve already made, the lessons you’ve already learned, and the success you’ve already achieved, and tell yourself you are capable — professionally, socially, and emotionally — of so much. Reject bitterness. Embrace fortitude. And keep looking forward.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.