With so many relationships breaking down and such a high percentage of marriages ending in divorce it's no wonder that many of us will, at some point, end up back on the dating scene.
We may be older and wiser, a little battered and bruised, but often, once we're ready to date again, thinking about rejoining the fray, we'll be harboring the fantasy of meeting someone special. Back on the dating scene means being optimistic, hopeful and looking forward to finding love again.
What do we need to consider when we're back on the dating scene?
– Our previous relationship experiences may have scarred our view and made us wary of what might go wrong. We may be keen to meet someone new but are nervous of trusting again. Cynicism of others' motives and being uncertain of our own instincts after getting it wrong may be sensible forms of self-protection, but if we treat all new dates with apprehension they will quickly sense our hesitancy and lack of enthusiasm. It's not going to bode well if we're on permanent alert, suspicious of their comments, behavior or intentions.
Counseling and hypnotherapy can be a useful start to the healing process and a good way to deal with past upsets. Therapy can help us to improve our confidence, self-esteem and remedy unwanted habit patterns, so becoming more assertive in an appropriate adult way. Don't forget that most potential dates will have their own story too, with their concerns, unease and fears. Starting out, second time around, can be a cautious time for both.
– This can be a good time to do things that boost your confidence. Maybe your wardrobe, make up or grooming regime need a refresh. Small changes can make a massive difference to how you feel about yourself and often cost very little to implement. Pay attention to current affairs, popular TV and local events so that you can easily join in conversations and offer relevant opinions. Think about picking up a hobby or interest, volunteering or joining a course. Exams don't have to be a factor!
– You may have to deal with children who are not too impressed at the thought of you dating again. They may have been through the damage of the breakup, witnessed the pain of the divorce and are used to you being around, more like your old self and always there for them. The thought of a new 'mum' or 'dad' arriving on the scene may fill them with horror.
Dependant on their age and awareness of the reasons for the breakup, they may have put your ex on a pedestal, especially if he or she is seen as the victim, all alone and struggling to recover. Giving you 'permission' to starting dating again might seem like a step too far and incredibly disloyal.
Children's jealousy, resentment and emotional blackmail may need to be navigated with kind but firm determination, especially if they refuse to share you or treat any potential serious new relationship with shock or disdain. Sometimes it's advisable to keep the fact that you're dating private until you're confident that this new relationship is right for you, even if that decision remains in place for months or even years, until the children are older or more settled.
And if they do insist on overseeing your love life it's important to refuse to allow yourself to be bullied by them. Older children are often determined to live their life on their terms, but equally they must allow you to do the same.
– Ageing, older parents can sometimes start to increase their demands just as you're ready to start back on the dating scene. They may be increasingly fragile and in need of greater levels of support. There may be concerns at leaving them unattended for too long, or that you could be called away at a moments notice. It could make the notion of dating again seem like too much hassle.
But supportive friends or the services offered by many local care agencies could potentially step into the breach and provide whatever level of support is required to help ease those concerns. And mobile phones make us all easily accessible.
– Friends too can send mixed messages. Sometimes at the outset, they may display great enthusiasm about getting you back on the dating scene. They may be keen to introduce you to single friends, arrange coffees, support you as you aim to lose a little weight and update your image. But then, if you become more committed to dating reality may sink in for them. The awareness that if you become serious about someone new and how it could significantly change your close, supportive relationship may hit them hard and prompt them to revise their approach.
Become aware of them starting to discourage you or of them regularly finding fault with your new love interest. Trust your gut and pay attention to any reasonable concerns they may have, but also appreciate that other people's perception of your date will be different to yours, especially if they're coming from a long-established, cozy, familiar relationship scenario.
Have some fun, take good care of yourself and enjoy getting back on the dating scene!