I've been meaning to write this for ages, but there has always been a slight sense of embarrassment that has stopped me from doing it. Sometimes I get all deep here and feel really comfortable sharing the inner workings of my brain and heart, but there are other times when I worry what other people will think about what I have to say. And well, when it comes to relationships and dating, I thought being single made me less qualified to talk about the subject.
Funnily enough, after a nearly ten year old relationship under my belt and a couple of shorter ones, if I have done something in my thirties is go on lots of dates. At first it was terrifying, but with time I've become quite relaxed and laid back about it, so I thought sharing what helps me might help others who are on the same boat. If you're in a happy relationship and you think this has nothing to do with you, I'm sure you have some single friends. Maybe you will be able to share this with them and give them a bit of encouragement if they need it.
DO NOT OVERTHINK IT
Getting back into the dating arena after a break up can be daunting, but remember that you have complete control and you never have to go on a date with someone you don't want to go with. I think it's best to keep a lighthearted approach to it and don't go into it thinking you must find the love of your life. Just chat to people, find out about them and if you like them enough, go on a date and see what happens. Don't jump ahead too much or take it too seriously to begin with. And remember, you are amazing, and there is someone out there who is looking for someone just like you :)
STAY AWAY FROM TROUBLE
The chances are that you will probably be using a dating app (maybe as well as meeting people in your normal life). Dating apps, and especially Tinder, have a terrible reputation for being full of people who are just looking for sex. The good news is that you can spot those a mile away! Stay away from people who say they are just after a bit of fun, or they don't want anything serious, or all their pics show them bare chested or showing some serious muscle at the gym. Well, I like to stay away from those anyway! They might look attractive (I personally find them revolting, but everyone has a different taste!), they look like trouble... and they probably are. Instead, choose people who have a selection of photos that gives you an idea of their lifestyle and things they like to do, and if you want to have a relationship, don't swipe right for those who say they don't want one. You're not going to change their mind.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
I'm not saying you should interrogate people, but quite often people text back and forth for ages about what they have been doing that day, what plans they have for the weekend, what the weather looks like, etc. Ask them what sort of things make them happy, what is important to them, what motivates them... Don't ask question after question, but be curious about them and try to get a sense of who they are, rather than their daily routine.
When you finally agree to meet in person, be safe. This applies to all genders, but especially to women. Tell a friend where you will be and what time they should expect a text from you to say everything is ok. I think it is super important that someone knows where I am and that they can check up on me to make sure I'm safe and enjoying myself.
LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
If you see a red flag and something inside you tells you that the person you've been talking to or been on a date with is not right, do listen to your intuition carefully. Sometimes I get nervous that something will go wrong and can confuse that feeling with the times when my gut is telling me that something is off. I usually ask myself if I am worried about the outcome (will he like me? will we click?) or if it is just that I really don't want to pursue it. If it is the latter, I make my excuses and walk away.
BE NICE TO PEOPLE
Treat others as you like to be treated. I know that if you don't like someone it is tempting to just disappear, but people deserve better than that! You can say that you don't feel a connection, that you have gone for a few dates with someone else and you'd like to see where it goes, that you don't have enough in common... whatever is true. Don't over elaborate either - nobody likes a full review of why you didn't like them that much, but be direct enough that you're not stringing someone along, as this is not kind.
You're not going to be dating for the rest of your life, so make the most of it and appreciate the fun dates, the evenings when time flies, the butterflies of the first kiss, fun days out, how interesting it is to get to know new people... And may you find long lasting love :)