Are You Ready for a Relationship?
Not so fast. In fact, not at all if those are your reasons for getting back into the game.
First you need to ask yourself if you're really ready to date. You may think you're over your ex but are you? If you're just looking for someone else to fill a void, chances are you haven't completely moved on. And that's okay; rebounds are all well and good, provided both parties know that it's a rebound, but they're just part of the process. In this article we're going to focus on making sure you're ready to pursue a successful relationship.
I'm not usually one for new age "wisdom" (or ancient Toltec wisdom, as the case may be) but after a particularly difficult break up several years ago I read a book called The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz. The author encouraged readers to view their romantic relationships as a circle in which each partner was responsible for his or her half of the circle and his or her half only.
Take a second to think about this. If you can conceive of your past relationships as a circle, it becomes a lot easier to let go of whatever pain it may have caused. For example, you can stop blaming yourself (or your ex) for what went wrong and move on because chances are, there was very little that either of you could have done differently. Sure, you should always try to be kind and loving to your partner, and you should be there for them when they've had a bad day but it's not up to you to "fix" them, just like it's not up to anyone else to fix you.
Moral of the story? If you're unhappy with your career or you hate your current lifestyle, you're probably not ready to start dating. At least not seriously. Sure, expanding your social circle might help to increase your overall level of satisfaction with your life but you can't expect your partner to make you happy. You need to make yourself happy, and until you've done that, you can't expect to be happy with anyone else.
As a dating columnist, I get lots of requests for relationship advice. As cheesy as it may sound, I always go back to that image of the circle and the notion that you can only be responsible for your half of that circle. This means that your partner can only be responsible for his or her half too, so it's up to you to make the changes in your life that you need to make in order to feel complete - or at least content - even without a significant other.
Maybe you need to sell your house, or make a career change, or buy that motorcycle that you've always wanted (or these designer shoes you've been coveting, even if you don't have the perfect boyfriend to take you out for a night on the town). Do it yourself.
Besides, no one wants to date a boring person. If you don't have any hobbies or passions or things to talk about when you're navigating those murky waters of first date conversation, try something new. And who knows, maybe your cute yoga instructor will turn out to be single.
When I first moved back to the US after several years abroad, I fell into the exact trap that I'm advising you all to avoid. Most of my friends had gotten married and moved out to the suburbs. I panicked and started dating with gusto - we're talking new shoes, multiple online dating subscriptions and even an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my love life. I certainly enjoyed myself but it wasn't until I quit my day job in order to pursue my real passions, started making new friends and stopped worrying about finding a boyfriend that I met someone special.
I spent two years banging my head against the wall because I wasn't actually happy with my life, and as such I wasn't in a position to share my life with anyone else. To see if you're ready, ask yourself the following questions. And be honest, because honesty is the key to every relationship, especially the one you have with yourself.
- How long have you been single? Have you given yourself time to recover and hopefully grow from the experiences of your last relationship?
- Are you sure you're not looking to find a new boyfriend or girlfriend just to prove to your ex (and perhaps to yourself) that you're still desirable?
- Are you happy (or at least marginally content) with your life as it is? Or are you bored, lonely and afraid of ending up alone?
If you answered "No" to any of the above, write a list of things that make you happy (or things that used to make you happy) and commit to incorporating at least two of them into your routine. For extra credit, make a list of activities you've always wanted to try and pick one. Maybe it's learning to play the guitar, or taking a cooking class, or simply heading to your local library for a book reading. You may not meet the love of your life but you'll be so busy generating positive vibes that you won't even notice, and that's usually when it happens.
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