I’m no longer in the dating scene, but, I used to date a lot. Being a woman who went through a second divorce and a midlife crisis, I know a lot about midlife transformation. Dating does tend to be a HUGE part of that change.
Once, a few years ago, I was over at a friends house having girls night, a homemade pizza and wine party. There were four of us, all considered somewhat “single” at the time and at different stages of singledom.
Jeri: She’d recently left her husband and was nowhere close to even considering dating. Circumstances forced her taking her kids and leaving her husband behind, which was against the sanctity of her marriage and religion and she was still dealing with that.
Joan: She’d been trying to date and had been unsuccessful, constantly rejected or was in this hole of never getting a real date at all. She was ready and willing to date, but couldn’t find anyone.
Instead, she tended to fall in love with online non-people. She got catfished a lot.
Laura: She hadn’t had a date in seven years, and was just starting to consider the possiblity of dating. She hesitated getting back into the dating scene with excuses that she needed to lose 10 lbs first, even though she was beautiful and by no means overweight.
Her last relationship (seven years prior) was a heartbreaking betrayal and shied her away from men completely. But, she always wanted children and she was coming to the end of her reproductive years (maybe even past them) and was starting to entertain the possibility of dating. She wasn’t ready yet for dating, but getting close.
Me: I’d just gotten out of an on/off relationship of many months and was diving back into the dating scene. I’d eek out every drop of possibility in my past relationship until it was dead, and then got back out there immediately. I dated even when I wasn’t ready, because I liked the male attention.
As we talked through the night, I saw the differences of our committment to the single life, the conflicting desire to want a relationship, and the motivation to get out into the world to find that partner.
It takes a lot of effort to date, and although you may think you’re ready, here’s some questions I came up with to question your own level of readiness:
Is my heart still with someone else?
Have you given yourself enough time to get over your last relationship? This is probably the biggest one. If you’re still pining for another person, it isn’t fair to the next person.
Give yourself time to heal.
As the case with Jeri, she wasn’t ready to let go of her marriage. She was still working through that process and to go out and start dating would have only messed with her head.
For me, it would have been good to give myself some time in between relationships, instead of diving into the next one that wasn’t right for me.
Am I currently experiencing a significant life event that needs most of my attention?
We are talking about huge life situations: a major medical condition for yourself or a loved one that has most of your time and attention (I can’t believe the amount of people who try to date when one of their parents is dying), a family crisis, or a major change in work/career.
If there’s instability in your life, then your time will be taken up by this and your focus should be this, not on dating. Again, it’s not fair to the potential mate, to yourself, or your situation.
What do I really want in a partner?
You true wants can range from casual sex to getting married and all the in-between. Whatever it is, be truthful with yourself first about what you really want and stick with that end goal so you aren’t swayed. Then, be truthful with the person you’re dating. It sucks not to be on the same page with the person you’re seeing. If it’s vastly different, then it may be time to move on.
With Joan, she felt more comfortable having a pseudo-relationship than a real life one. She was able to enjoy the perks of an emotional connection (at least in her own mind) without the true commitment.
Although I don’t recommend an online-only type of relationship, I do understand that we’re all on an emotional spectrum and everyone is different in how they get their emotional needs met.
Then there was Laura, who wanted a family. Different end of the spectrum. The most important thing is knowing yourself and what you need to make YOU happy and not changing it just to make the other person happy.
Am I making excuses NOT to date?
Sometimes we are doing great in our lives. Everything is going fine, and feel that we should move to that next step of finding a person. But your mind and body just aren’t into it.
If you really want a partner, but still question if you’re ready to date, then there are other things holding you back. The bigger question is the why. A menial excuse (I need to lose 10lbs first) can be covering up some bigger issues (I still need to heal from…).
With Laura, I later found out that underneath, it had been too long and she was afraid. It’s important to look at ‘why.’ Is it fear? Is it not wanting to rock the boat in your life? What is it that’s nagging at you? These are the times to sit back and reevaluate. Inner reflection is more important than “getting back out there.”
Back then, I knew my overall goal was to find a partner. I had a lot of healing and relearning to do, and my dating process was individual to me.
I also knew that person wasn’t going to just fall into my lap! I needed to date. A lot! My approach was one of countless ways, but it was successful for me in the long run.
Take your own approach to dating and relationships that works for you, and you’ll also find your own success.
What are these women doing today? Jeri decided to go back to her husband and work on her marriage. Laura finally started dating and fell in love. Joan got a job working with horses and spends most of her time in the country, she’s still single and online dating. And me…I continued to date until I found my partner. We were married in September, 2018