Are you ready to date again?

Your friends and family are asking you when you are going to start seeing people. They tell you things like, “it is time to get back out there”, “there is more than one fish in the sea”, “you are young, you will find someone” and so on. Maybe they are trying to set you up on blind dates.

I heard those same things. Not long after losing my husband to cancer, my family and friends started to ask me if I would date again. They encouraged me to check out the online dating sights. My mother even said that maybe I would find a captain in the Army. I am not sure why she made such a statement. It could be because dad served 20 years in the  Army. Whatever the reason, all I knew was that after six months I was not ready to even think about dating! I was still mourning the loss of my husband.

As more time passed the inquires from my family and friends about finding someone else became relentless. Being vulnerable, lonely and desperate to fill the void, I gave in and made a profile online to start looking. I felt uncomfortable. However, I was honest about my description, full figured and beautiful (or something to that effect), gray hair and middle aged. I found a flattering head shot taken at the perfect angle that made me appear thinner. After all I did not want to appear fat and ugly. I was putting myself out there.

I did not have experience dating. I never really dated before I married. I went out on a couple of dates in high school. Mostly we went as a group and just had fun. I had a couple of crushes and one boyfriend for a brief time. Then I met my husband. He was my first and only love.

I had no idea what I was doing when I joined the online dating scene. I made a few contacts and we wrote to one another. I was myself, upfront and honest. That did not go over so well. One man I was talking to got hung up on my weight. It did not take me long to figure out what he was about so I quickly ended conversations with him. It seemed like the men on these sights wanted young hot models. Well, that definitely was not me. My husband loved me, fat belly and all. These men will never be as good as my husband so I gave up and closed my online account.

Then one day at a new job as a convenient store manager, a tall handsome man started to flirt with me. At first I did not believe it. But he came in every day and flirted. The attention was unwanted at first. But then it felt nice to feel attractive again. His pursuit became blatantly obvious of what he wanted. And even though it was nice to be pursued, it was not what I wanted. I did not want to be one of his friends with benefits. I was not ready for a relationship at all.

So how do you know when or even if it is time to start dating? Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Where am I in the grieving process? Have I allowed myself ample time and space to grieve and heal? Each of us heals at a different rate. It is hard to put a time table on the grieving process. Yet most people do. Including the person who is grieving. Maybe you are thinking you should be over it by now. That can be very dangerous to your healing. If you are not ready for something but do it anyway because it is the acceptable time then you are delaying your true healing. Rushing into things can do more damage to your fragile state and you risk not healing at all. I urge you to take all the time you need to grieve and heal.
  2. Are there issues I have not dealt with about the relationship? If so what are they? What do you need to do to resolve these issues within yourself before you can move on? You may need a therapist to help you through those issues. Or maybe you just need to release them.
  3. Why do I want to start dating? What are my intentions? Examine yourself and the reason you want to start dating. Are you dating to get back at your ex? Are you looking for financial security? Do you want to silence those around you who are telling you to get back out there? If you are not dating for the right reasons, you will risk finding unhealthy relationships.

And so here I am twelve years later and still single. Sure it would be nice to have a companion to do go places with and  have new experiences. If it happens that is fine, if not I will be fine with my cats. Trust yourself. You know what is right for you.

As always I welcome your feedback and questions. You can leave them in the comments below. If you like what you read let me know with a thumbs up.

Remember that you are not alone, I am here to walk along side of you.

Ethel

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