It only takes one bad relationship or messy divorce to put the fear of god into us about dating again.
If you are too scared to put yourself out there, then you’re missing out on endless opportunities for connection, companionship and/or love. And that is no good because we all deserve a shot at meaningful relationships which make us feel good about ourselves.
As someone who was terrified of dating for six long years, I hate to see other people suffer the way I did. I only wish I took action sooner to break through the fear and date again.
Here, I will share how I overcame my trepidation about dating so I could meet potential partners confidentially with a clear, healthy mindset.
Remember, no one should let fear dictate any area of their life, and finding love is no exception.
How to break through the fear and date again
One of the most challenging yet helpful things I did before I declared myself “ready to date again” was to audit myself. I sat down and started asking critical questions.
Do I really want to date again? (The answer is yes.) What do I want and not want – a.k.a. the green and red flags – in a potential partner? In what aspects am I willing to compromise? Moreover, what’s holding me back?
Knowing yourself – your fears, motivations, and standards – will give you a clearer picture of what you can expect from a potential relationship. It’s hard, especially once you get confronted by your own red flags. But knowing yourself is the first step to break through the fear and date again.
Trust Yourself before you date again
I’ll be the first to admit that trusting your own judgment again is hard. After all, my own judgment brought me into a bad situation. How can I trust myself again?
But we have learned. We are stronger. We are smarter. We have survived heartbreak, and we know much better now.
Many times, our biggest obstacle is our own self-doubt.
Do I deserve to be happy? (Yes!)
Will someone like me? (Yes!)
What if I make a huge mistake again? (You might but that’s ok so long as you learn from it.)
Be Honest with Potential Partners
With dating, whether offline or online, it’s easy for someone to want to present the most likeable version of themselves. It is even tempting to change who you are to get that right swipe.
Don’t do it.
Be honest about who you are. That’s how you look, your past, your aspirations and your current situation. Just be you! If you are attempting be someone else then you’re still having dating anxiety – or Fear Of Dating Again (F.O.D.A.).
More importantly, be honest about how you feel. Feeling like asking for a second date? Go say it. Not committing to something serious just yet? Tell them.
We know that lying is wrong and a heavy burden, having to keep tabs on the lies. Telling the truth is always the easier route.
In addition, humans are not perfect. A real person will not expect you to be perfect. So, just be honest about who you are and what you want. A person who loves you will accept you, flaws and all. You’re imperfect, so what? That doesn’t make you unworthy of happiness.
Accepting who you are and trusting that your flaws do not make you less deserving of love can help you break through the fear and date again.
How to break through the fear and date again (cont.)
Only date People You Really Connect With
Many of us fear dating nowadays, and a huge reason for that is the fear of being used, lied to, and taken advantage of. This is especially true given our increasing use of online platforms and dating apps to meet potential partners.
It’s normal to fear. Not just that: it’s helpful to feel fear.
After all, the ability to feel fear is a crucial factor in the evolution and survival of humans. So, you must be careful with meeting people you don’t know. You shouldn’t be forcing connections with people who feel a bit off just for the sake of “trying to make it work.”
Listen to your instincts … always.
Further reading: 10 Green flags that you’re actually in a good relationship.
Embrace the Probability of an Imminent Heartbreak
Okay, so I hope The Hunger Games doesn’t sue me for borrowing this line.
Well, you might think this is counterproductive, and I get it. Who in her right mind would want to think that her special relationship could end? But hear me out.
Remember John Legend’s song about loving a person like you’re going to lose them? This is what I mean precisely: Hold them like you’re saying goodbye.
However, take note that embracing this possibility does not mean you hold back your feelings and deny investing love in your person. On the contrary, thinking about “the end” could be helpful in that you don’t take for granted the things you do for and with each other. You appreciate the presence of the other person more. You become present at the moment.
Sometimes, because we don’t anticipate what will happen tomorrow, we don’t show the people we love how much we really love them. We would like to think there’s always another day when, in reality, we only have today. So, when that unexpected day comes, it comes in as a shock.
Now, if by chance, you end up together forever, well, wouldn’t that be nice?
Remember: if you’re not ready to date again, you don’t have to.
Alas, the truth is nobody can force you to date again if you’re not emotionally and/or physically ready. Healing from heartbreak or a traumatic relationship takes time; sometimes, time’s perfect companion is not a new person but yourself.
During the six years it took me to break through the fear and date again, I did try dating. But being unprepared just caused more trouble for the people I went out with and myself. All the while, I feared that I would get hurt again, so I couldn’t give them my complete trust. At most, I was half-hearted, and I eventually realised I was being unfair.
It took me six long years to finally get myself out of the rut and start dating again. Do I wish moving on took less time? Definitely. But I also believe I needed those six years to pick myself up, regain the confidence I had lost, and learn to trust people again.