Recently I witnessed a friend become open again to the possibility of dating. She had an unusually difficult past relationship where deceit played a major role. The friend chose to give up entirely on the possibility of a healthy, honest, loving relationship as a result.
Slowly, over the past few months, there were mentions of possibly considering dating again. Not actually doing it; just thinking about the possibility. There was one obstacle standing in the way of progress: it seemed overwhelming to make this change in her life.
What happened next was a continuation of casually mentioning the idea, but also working through the obstacles she identified. Her children needed her, she was busy, she had a great life just as it was, and it wasn't worth all the work involved are just a few of the reasons she felt it was a bad idea to try dating again.
I listened and gave a consistent message of encouragement as she mentally processed all that was causing her angst over dating. I never pushed too hard, but rather continued with a positive, pro-dating message to counteract the negative voice she was debating in her head.
What I realized after a few months of our back-and-forth discussions was that she didn't know how to proceed. Yes, she was fearful of being lied to and hurt again, but it also seemed insurmountable to make this life change after taking such a long break from dating.
So, how does one move forward, beginning a new search for a potential mate?
It's simple: by taking small steps.
My friend's greatest struggle with dating again had nothing to do with going out on a date with a new man. Her hesitation was wrapped up in the fear of being hurt by a deceitful, unfaithful man again. While this is a very real fear for her, it is not going to happen to her on the first step to dating again. It's impossible, actually.
By breaking it down into small, manageable steps, it becomes less scary. Here are a few ideas for the first step:
- Let friends know you are interested in the possibility of dating again. This might lead to a blind date or two.
- Create an online profile on a dating site. Keep it hidden if you are not ready for contact yet; just creating it is a great first step.
- Join a club or organization aligning with your interests. Like-minded people will also be in attendance, which of course means you will share common interests.
- Seek out singles' activity groups in your area. Meetup offers groups for single, separated, and divorced individuals.
These four ideas will simply lead to greater exposure and opportunity to meet someone. It doesn't mean anyone is on the verge of a long-term committed relationship with the potential for heartbreak. It is only a first step, hopefully leading to step two: meeting someone. The third step would be to accept a date. And the baby steps continue from there.
What is most important is taking the first, small step towards the goal.
Everything else will fall into place with time and a bit of courage.