Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Consider This Before Choosing to Date Again

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Are you considering stepping out into the world of dating again?  It can sure be a daunting task but also very rewarding.  I would encourage anyone to do so with thought and intention, not just to 'test the waters.' 

It took me quite a while after my former spouse moved out and the divorce was final to feel like I was ready to date again. Initially the very thought of dating or trusting felt way too threatening.  I knew my heart would be tender and I felt too vulnerable to take the risk. I treasured the peace I gained through divorce and didn't want the drama. Then, I suddenly began to be aware of men again - everywhere! I started to long for companionship and I sensed a readiness.

Asking yourself these questions may help you decide when you're ready ~
  • What have I learned are my weaknesses from my past relationship?  Do I know how to improve these areas for the future?
  • Do I have time to invest in a healthy relationship?
  • How will I keep myself accountable and open to input from those I trust?
  • Have I reached a place where I can handle rejection without letting it destroy the healing progress that I've made?
  • Am I satisfied with myself?  Do I have fulfilling relationships or am I attempting to fill and empty place within myself? 

If you're recently divorced, widowed or out of a relationship then take your time before moving into another one.  Consider what you may have gained, even through the loss.  For me, it was peace.  I treasured the peace that I now enjoyed at home and didn't want to bring any drama into my heart, home or life.  I wasn't confident that I knew how to ward off drama or that I wouldn't jump on an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs, hopes and disappointment.  I didn't want that.  I needed my energies focused on healing and parenting well through a transitional time in the lives of our family.

For more than a year, I invested in myself.  I made my home more mine.  I scheduled regular girls' nights with friends.  I focused on paying down debt, remaining healthy and healing from deep wounds through books, therapy and groups like DivorceCare. It was a necessary and healing time for me.  I had opportunity to date, but I declined politely and was cautious about sending out a mixed message.  

Some people close to me encouraged me to date right away, some tried to set me up, it was sort of a novelty and joke.  I always reiterated how opposed I was to that idea!  I think those close to me just wanted to see me happy and felt that coupledom was a sure way to that end.  But I quickly established that I wasn't interested.  I didn't even entertain the idea in my own head and heart.  So the first obstacle to overcome was to admit that I would like to date and one day have a companion again.  For a long time, I felt it was somehow admitting that what I had wasn't enough.  I falsely thought it was less godly or being discontent to want more.

But the longing didn't go away, and even as I got to know myself better and revisited my early-self desires and girlhood dreams, I knew that I have always believed myself to be created for partnership.  Once I felt the freedom to have the desire, the desire for companionship was there in full force.  I became hyper-aware of men all around me!  It was laughable to me at the time and even now.  But this is one of the ways in which I became sure that I was ready, I was open to possibility and not closed off by pain as in times past.

So I began to pray.  God knew my desires, but I got comfortable talking with Him about things before I was comfortable enough to share with others.  That's what I discuss next - How did I know what I would want?  

Are you in a place where you are dating again?  Open to it?  Just curious?  Do you want to hear more of my experience or is this a discouraging topic?  Are you happily married and just reading for fun - whatever your status, please say hi!  I would love to hear from you today!

Next in the dating series: Decide What You Want

As I'm sharing, please take or toss - I'm not suggesting that what I did it what everyone should do, but it is the truth unfolding of my story.