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Scared to Date Again?

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Many relationship-seekers today feel like the walking wounded. Though they've had more options than ever to meet potential partners, most of those relationships didn't work out. Though still willing to try again, these still-undefeated warriors have become understandably wary. Many feel the weight of pre-defeat with its accompanying self-protection, yet have worked hard to keep their cynicism at bay. There can only be so many lost dreams before people lose their positive attitudes, even though they realize that pessimism is neither intriguing nor sexy.

Every relationship seeker I have met has a unique set of reasons for why they are still single. That individual add-up sets the scene for how much dating energy is left to risk. No one can tell another person when to try again, when to retreat, what to change, or how to approach next opportunity. There are just too many variables to create a stereotype.

What if, for instance, you are a reasonably attractive dating package who's just been ghosted by someone you thought was in it for the long haul? You'd certainly feel a plethora of emotions. If that were you, you could feel a range of emotions from confusion, conflict, devastation, grief, insecurity, hurt, or anger. You might even feel like stalking that abandoning partner to try to find enough information to keep yourself from going crazy in an unbelievable situation. Or, perhaps you'd rush too quickly into another relationship just to find temporary solace. You might even be so off balance that you resort to self-destructive escape behaviors.

Or, what if you truly believed that you were the chosen one, only to find out that a prior flame has re-emerged and that you're now back in a competitive race that doesn't look good? You put a lot of energy and thought into selecting that special person and you're weary of looking and ready to settle down. Now you feel almost powerless to stop what is going on and horrified that you may have to start all over. You are understandably reluctant to take another chance like this, yet have grown use to the joy of a committed relationship. Do you go back to being single and forever forego another commitment, or do you plunge back into that romantic abyss? Maybe you're so disillusioned that you can't even think about taking another chance while your heart is still occupied with the one you lost.

Were you one of those relationship partners who weren't ready to commit just yet, but your partner was? You didn't want to prematurely promise something you might not be able to deliver, but didn't want to lose the chance it could eventually work out. As your partner persevered, did you abandon him or her, fearful of premature entrapment and now regret the loss of a relationship that might have eventually mattered?

Many people repeatedly pick the same kind of partners even though none of those relationships have worked out in the past. Or they haven't really looked at what they are offering, and whether what they want is even available. Perhaps they continue to create fantasy scenarios that aren't likely to succeed. Then, daunted by too many disappointing losses, they might settle too quickly for someone who can't meet their standards over time. Loneliness can mask logical and effective reasoning for anyone.
Balancing all the data is not easy. Ask yourself these important questions: what are your currently available potential options? Have you recovered from past losses? Are you willing to realistically look at your marketability? Are you truly open to the actual possibilities you do have? And, are you feeling good enough about yourself to go back on the "auction block?" You need to be at your best and not repeat past errors before you open again to a committed search, and resilient if the next relationship doesn't compensate for what you've lost.

No one is ready to successfully date again unless they have sufficiently healed from their prior heartbreak. Lost relationships must be grieved appropriately but should never doom the hope of a new love. Those who are still in the throes of sorrow need to wait until they can be honestly optimistic again so they can approach the next relationship ready to give it their best.

If you still feel pessimistic, cynical, insecure, defeated, anxious, angry, martyred, or exploited, you'll be more likely to approach the next relationship warily at best. Even more worrisome, is that you will want that next relationship to make up for all the pain you've experienced from the last abandonment. Hyper-vigilant, you might find yourself ready to catch any hint that abandonment may be on the horizon, seeking constant reassurance from a new partner who isn't responsible for what happened in your past.
The following test will help you know if you are ready to take on a new relationship. Answer the questions as honestly as you can. If your score tells you that you're not ready, you can take the test again after you give yourself more time to heal.

Relationship Readiness Questionnaire

Answer the following questions using the number guide below:

1 = Rarely
2 = Some of the time
3 = Pretty often
4 = A lot of the time
5 = Most of the time

1) I think about the next person I'm going to fall in love with. ____

2) I think that I will eventually find the person I want.____

3) I believe that I was a worthwhile partner.____

4) I trust that the future holds some great new relationship adventures. ____

5) People get over the pain from their lost relationships.____

6) I believe that losing that important relationship has made me a stronger person.____

7) My friends tell me that I'm healed from my loss.____

8) I think of the good things I did in the relationship.____

9) I believe that my partner did truly care for me.____

10) I still trust that people are basically good.____

11) I treasure the positives in intimate relationships.____

12) I believe that I've learned what I need to know to try dating again.____

13) I feel renewed confidence in knowing what to do differently the next time around.____

14) I trust that most people "ghost" other people because they don't want to hurt them.____

15) Things work out the way they're supposed to.____

Now add up your total scores.

1 - 15 You definitely are not ready to date yet
16 - 30 You should probably wait awhile and hang out with good people who love you
31 - 45 You're beginning to heal
46 - 60 Things are looking up
61 - 75 Time to get out there and try again

Don't be discouraged if your scores tell you that you're not ready to go back out there yet. Dating is hard for everyone, especially today where there are so many unknowns. Even when things go well most of the time, it is not easy to get back out there after you've been disillusioned by an unexpected or premature ending. Confidence comes from success, but it can also come from building resilience through continuous honing of your approach.

The more you value yourself, understand what you want and can give, and see relationships as the potentially hazardous but mystical adventures they can be, the more you will be able to effectively discern the good from the bad. Though it is difficult to keep your self-esteem level up in the face of consecutive disappointments, you can eventually find the great partner you want if your search stays light-hearted and smart. Looking for the right partner is no different from looking for anything else in life that you want to last. Stay in a sacred place, maintain your aliveness, and stay open to transformation.
Most people are universally attracted to people who are in love with life and who bounce back from loss with renewed commitment and excitement. Though it is more difficult for anyone if losses mount, you can still give it your all each time you try again. That kind of courage and optimism will always be contagious and highly valued on the dating market.

Dr. Randi's free advice e-newsletter, Heroic Love, shows you how to avoid the common pitfalls that keep people from finding and keeping romantic love. Based on over 100,000 face-to-face hours counseling singles and couples over her 40-year career, you'll learn how to zero in on the right partner, avoid the dreaded "honeymoon is over" phenomenon, and make sure your relationship never gets boring.