You know how in Sex and the City; the girls (minus Samantha) begrudged their singledom yet still enjoyed the dating lifestyle. That’s how I feel. Pre-Covid, I was out meeting guys, whinging about bad dates and stupid one-liners. But now I’ve spent a year completely single, I’ve realised how much I miss meeting a stranger at a bar and sharing my interests in a restaurant. I’m so ready to get back into dating.
If like me, it’s been a while, you may feel excitement mixed in with dread at starting the process over again. Even without Covid, dating after a long break can feel daunting. With that said, here are some tips to help you prepare.
Make sure you are ready
I had a huge dating disaster when I decided to agree to a date, a mere few weeks from a painful breakup. The date was all wrong for me. We had nothing in common besides an agreement he should complement me often. That’s what glued us: he liked flirting and I liked the ego boost.
They say the best way to get over someone is to get under someone – that, or a large bottle of wine and Ben & Jerry’s. From my experience, if you’re feeling hurt and rejected from past relationships, you’ll likely carry that insecurity with you. And that could lead to bad decisions, feeling worse, looking less attractive. Who is turned on by someone unsure of themselves?
Not to mention, if you’re still hung up over someone, you can make the mistake of trying to capture them in someone else. Again, a bad dating disaster for me. Years ago, a toxic ex and I officially split for good. I found myself attracted to guys with the same negative traits.
Take strategic measures to let go of ex-partners. Whether that’s going to therapy, reading motivational self-help books on moving on, or ensuring you’ve settled any unsolved issues with divorce solicitors if you were married.
Focus on looking attractive
My favourite podcaster, Tonya Leigh, posted a podcast on how to look more attractive. She advises, in addition to the regular tips of eating well and exercising, to ask whether you find yourself attractive. Do you think you’re interesting to be around, do you know what you really want in a partner?
Attraction isn’t physical alone. As Tonya said, you have to decide who you want to attract and then work on being that person. You want to get back into dating feeling confident, worthy and interesting – you don’t want to be agreeing to dates with people that aren’t right for you.
So as my post on date boredom notes, do things that will make you feel more interesting and more attractive before getting back in the game. Which I know is difficult if you’re in lockdown – there is only so much banana bread baking and reading you can do. Consider buying some weights or online language classes – something that will break from the norm.
Join a dating app
Okay, I’ve complained about dating apps before. However, they have a lot of benefit and especially if you’ve not had a first date for some time.
You get to interact with several people simultaneously behind the comfort of a screen. You can experiment with talking to people you’d usually say no to. And you can ease conversational fears by practicing good first date questions.
Importantly, you can notice attraction habits. If you’ve ever thought, ‘Why do I pick the wrong [insert your sexual preference]’, dating apps can give you a clue. What is it about the artist that intrigues you, or the corporate person or the individual who seems just as confused about finding someone to settle with? When I was last online dating, I figured I fancied men who matched my fear of commitment. Wanting to have a relationship but also wanting to have a passionate affair.
Work on fears
Do you feel you’re worthy of love? Do you worry no one will love you – you’re too messed up or complicated?
A good way to know if these questions may apply to you, is to ask if you tend to hide parts of you that feel vulnerable when you’re interested in a person. Do you hold back certain sides or do that annoying thing I do where I people-please and act agreeable? If you answer yes to the questions, see if you can find the root cause. Did a particular ex or experience ingrain these negative belief systems?
Don’t take dating to seriously
Write down what you want and have a clear goal in mind, but do not put too much pressure on yourself when you start dating. It should start fun and relaxed.
Rely on your friends
When in doubt, call up a friend for reassurance on your dating concerns. At times, they can be the best self-love anecdote. I have a best friend who calls me out on my bullsh*t. She’ll just say, “you’re making excuses” or “life is too short for this drama you’re creating”. She also acts as a confidence boost and reminds me of the type of guy I need – not always the one I want.