Dating can be hard, even when you’re fully up on your skills and know all the latest dating lingo.
But many men are getting back out there after having not been in the dating scene for a while. They could be coming out of a relationship, have gotten divorced, or have been widowed.
In any case, the dating landscape can change so fast that they may not know how or where to begin. Let me help!
1. Make a List of What You’re Looking For
I’m a carpenter — I love my tools. I also like to use these metaphors when coaching, so I’m going to teach you how to use all sorts of tools. What each person chooses to build using these tools is up to them.
That means understanding what you want now. Do you want to find another girlfriend ASAP? Do you want to have a little fun? Do you want to just see what’s out there? It’s best to write it down and define what you want so you’re clear what it is you’re aiming for.
Likewise, it’s good to also make a list of wants vs. needs. You do not NEED an Instagram model, but you do need someone who takes pride in what she or he looks like. You do not NEED someone with a Ph.D., but you do need someone who values intelligence. This list will help you identify the traits you’re hoping for (and those you don’t want) in your new romantic encounter as quickly as possible.
Also, don’t use negative words (“I don’t want drama queens!”). Flip it to use positive words (“I love women who love to chill!”).
2. Reconnect with Fun
I know you may dread getting back out there. You’d just rather be comfortable and chillax at home binging “The Mandalorian.” Everything else feels like work.
Yes, dating and re-entering single society will take some work, but it doesn’t have to suck. What is dating supposed to be? FUN! It doesn’t mean it’s fun all the time. Believe me, I know. But it can be.
You don’t have to dread going out to dinner and doing the dating interview. Instead, do things that you enjoy, or get back into an old hobby. When you’re doing something that you enjoy, your body language opens up, your energy rises, you get excited, and you get that twinkle in your eye. This is the type of person people want to date.
Even if there’s no one in a particular group whom you want to date, everyone has coworkers, friends, sisters, etc. So ask if they know someone who you might be interested in. This connection also gives you more to talk about when you do meet new people.
3. Do New Things
While you definitely want to do familiar, fun things like what I said in the last section, it’s also important to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
When you work out, it probably feels painful and uncomfortable sometimes, but you mentally link it to the future pleasure of how you’ll look, feel, and be perceived, so it makes the current pain worthwhile. You need to do the same thing with dating.
Yes, it may feel uncomfortable going out by yourself or doing new things, but you need to link it to the future pleasure of being in a relationship, having sex, and getting married. That way, it will help you realize that growth is a bit chaotic, and, instead of avoiding it, you need to lean into it.
Plus, anytime you do something new, it creates emotional chemicals, like adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin, which helps us remember these experiences. This is also the case when you go on dates. Do you remember the first time you had sex? Got drunk? Went on a roller coaster? When you do new things with your date, you indelibly stamp this person into your memory. This creates more bonding hormones and helps you build chemistry.
4. Understand That Things Will Be Different
Maybe the last time you dated there weren’t even computers back then (let alone all of this online dating stuff). Maybe you were in your 20s, and you could just go out to a bar and have a hundred possible options in front of you. Maybe you’re getting back out there after a long marriage, and you’re carrying a few more pounds and maybe sporting a bit less hair than the last time. All of this is OK!
You don’t have to immediately be an expert dater again. Just start dipping your toes in to test out the waters. Remember that, for the ladies you are dating, they may be feeling the exact same way. Refrain from saying “Back in my day…” about anything pretty much ever. Don’t compare your current self to your past self.
5. Don’t Rush the Relationship
Having a wonderful, mature love is awesome. Having companionable silence as you cuddle together watching some fluff reality TV and playing on your phone can be great. Now that you’re dating again, you want to recapture that feeling of comfort and happiness.
To that end, you may try and rush the relationship into, well, a relationship. But first you need to actually date the person and get to know him or her. That foundation needs to be rebuilt. Don’t push to immediately start having dinners at home or “Netflix and chill” dates.
You need to remember that this is the sussing-out process where you’re seeing if this is someone you want to spend more time with. Take it slow, and enjoy each moment and the process itself. Then the future will take care of itself.
6. Make Some Changes in Your Life
One of the things I learned in my script writing classes in college was “the interior world mirrors the exterior world.” Meaning, if it was “a dark and stormy night,” what kind of story is it going to be? Right, a mystery or horror. That also works with people.
When we affect small changes in our exterior life, it will start to mirror our interior life. So get a new haircut (it’ll grow back), buy some new clothes, get some fancy new shoes. When we start making little changes, we start to see people react differently, which then causes us to feel differently, and then we become a different (better) person.
Remember the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Or as I say “If you change nothing, nothing will change.” So start making some little changes, and see what happens.
Take This as an Opportunity to Work on Yourself and Your Life
I know many men don’t feel like doing “work” again to get out there, but you have to change the mindset into “Let’s see what fun and amazing things and people are out there that weren’t earlier!”
Usually, there’s a reason the last relationship didn’t work, so it also gives you the time to try and better yourself so you can offer more and receive more. Good luck out there!