7 Important Steps to Follow Before Dating Again

single breakupSo you’ve survived the breakup (if not, see breakup survival tips here) and are now wondering if it’s time to look around for a new partner. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve checked out the dating scene and you’re struggling with how to go about it. You may also not be sure how quickly you should start to causally date, or when to focus your search for “the one.” The following list of guidelines can help you identify if you’re prepared for serious dating, and can ensure you’re in the optimal frame of mind before doing so:

1. Are you truly ready for a committed relationship again, and not on the rebound? Certainly a lot of people may have transitional relationships and casually date in the beginning. They’re not prepared for the “real” one just yet. Don’t let feelings of loneliness or neediness cause you to jump into a partnership prematurely. If you feel comfortable about dating casually, be honest with yourself about it. Perhaps you’d really be better off first growing as an individual. Are you simply fearful of being (or not being) in a lasting relationship?

2. Reevaluate what you’ve learned about yourself from, and since, your prior relationship. Do you really know what went wrong between the two of you? How did you contribute to the problems and the unraveling of the relationship? What were the strengths in the relationship? Think about the compatibility issues you had with your previous partner. This is truly a golden opportunity to learn things about yourself that you’ll likely benefit from for the rest of your life.

3. Have you learned to love yourself again? It’s not uncommon to feel despondent, angry, or suffer from very low self-esteem after a breakup. This is particularly true if you were the one who was rejected. Are you beating yourself up or questioning what you have to offer in a relationship? If so, it is important to get your confidence back and clearly see what positive qualities you have to offer in a future relationship. If not, you’re much more likely to make poor decisions and end up in an unhealthy situation. Those who feel they have little value end up with partners who value them (very) little!

4. Be prepared to be patient. Finding the right and “perfect” partner can take a while. Look out for red flags early on. Don’t compromise on the standards you set, and don’t just “settle” if something doesn’t feel right. Loving yourself and being content before embarking on a dating relationship is the best way to prevent settling for a partner you know is not healthy for you.

5. Stay truthful. In the long run, honesty will take you farther. You don’t need to disclose all the details of your past when in a new relationship, but honesty is always appreciated and facilitates more open communication. It encourages the other person to reciprocate in similar fashion and develops trust that can help build a deeper connection more quickly.

6. Pay attention to the phase of life you’re in and make sure the person you’re dating is truly compatible with your lifestyle. Are you retired or just starting a career? Are you still raising children, or perhaps grandchildren? You and your partner need to be in a compatible life stage and share similar goals to ensure long-term success.

7. What are you looking for in a partner? Compile a list of qualities most important to you and also a list of the “deal breaker” characteristics or situations that simply will not work for you. Pay attention to any warning signs and don’t lose sight of those qualities when it comes to deciding what next steps to take.

If any of these guidelines and steps are confusing or overwhelming, or if you’re still trying to process troublesome issues from your previous breakup, seek professional support to maximize your chances for healthy relationships in the future.

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