The holiday season is a great time to reflect on your goals for the year to come. This includes those of you who haven’t been dating for a while now and want to get back out there. Returning to the dating pool can be intimidating, and you might not know how to start. Here are five tips to help you dip your toe back into the pool.
1. Let Go of the Past
For some, the reason you haven’t dated in a while is that you were in a relationship that ended. You may have dated someone for weeks, months, or even years. But some relationships need to end. It’s what’s best for both people, even though the separation process can be difficult. And while the memories of the past will always live within you, they need not color the present.
If you feel that you’re holding onto something from your previous relationship, make time to lay it to rest. Honor it, respect it, talk about it with friends, family, or a therapist, and come to terms with it. Then you can step into the future ready for a new adventure.
2. Prepare For Anything
Take a moment and ask yourself what you want out of your next dating experience. Do you want to find someone who you’ll spend the rest of your life with? Or are you open to more casual encounters? No matter your answer, be honest with yourself and the person you meet. You’ll have a better dating experience if you’re honest about your intentions.
Depending on what you want out of your next dating experience, prepare appropriately. If you’re hoping for sexual intimacy, schedule a visit to the doctor for an STI screening. Refill your birth control if you use it, or start if you want to. Getting back into the dating pool usually means there are more opportunities for intimacy. It’s important to check in with yourself and see if you’re ready for that.
3. Do What You Love
If you’re unsure of how to meet new people, you can always go the route of chatting up people at a bar or club. And while there are likely many great people to meet at such places, you never know what their interests are. Thankfully, there’s a great way to meet people who are guaranteed to have the same interests as you.
Make a list of your favorite activities or hobbies and find the avenue(s) where they have social overlap. For example, say you love reading but can never find anyone to talk to about the books that excite you. Well, look for meetups or local book clubs that are active and meet regularly. If you love a particular author, see if they’re on tour and go to a book signing. Finding a way to be social while interacting with the thing you love can help you find others with the same interests.
4. Use Dating Apps
Many people are split on whether they like dating apps or not. Some love them, some loathe them, and many others fall somewhere in between. No matter your opinion of dating apps, the fact of the matter is that people use them. They’re a convenient way to meet new people.
The trick to dating apps is taking a “fire-and-forget” attitude. Make the best profile you can and just go into every conversation looking to have fun. Just like in real life, it’s unhealthy to have too many expectations off the bat. And, yes, online dating can be much harder for guys, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth giving a shot. You can always just swipe for a few minutes a day, close the app, and not think about it again unless you get a notification.
5. Prepare For Rejection
No matter where, when, or how you’re trying to meet people, you’re going to get rejected sometimes. Rejection is often imagined as a harsh, flat-out no from the person of your affection. And, yes, that may happen. But rejection is a part of life that happens in lots of smaller ways too. It may be a rejection of a date idea, an advance, or some other intention of yours.
Some people are able to shrug off rejection with little to no problem. But if you find that you’re afraid of it, or that rejection lingers in your mind, then practice it. Go out into the world and start making requests that you know will be rejected. Go to a coffee shop and ask for a free coffee, ask a stranger for a compliment, or race a random person. You’ll start getting numb to the pain of rejection, and eventually, the fear of it will lessen significantly.
Build Your Courage
Dating is all about being courageous. On a date, it’s important to signal and express your needs, and hear those of the person you’re dating. It takes courage to be honest about what you want and need. Do some reflection, understand the reason why you want to be dating, and keep it firmly in mind. As you meet people, eventually you’ll find someone whose reason overlaps with yours.