Am I Ready To Date?
There may be several times during your life when you ask yourself this question – Am I ready to date? Whether you’re a teenager and have never dated before, or you’ve gone through a tough break-up or divorce, or you’re a single parent considering dating again, you’re really the only one who can decide when you’re ready.
It might help for you to consider these questions when you’re trying to decide if you’re ready to start dating (or to start dating again).
As a Teen:
Why are you thinking about dating? Motive is an important consideration. Are you wanting to keep up with friends? Are you lonely? Do you feel like you’re supposed to be dating by now? Have you met someone you want to know better? Some reasons may be healthier reasons for dating than others. So you probably want to take some time to consider why you want to date and if those reasons would likely lead to a positive dating experience.
What does dating mean to you? Does it mean going on one-on-one dates? Going out in groups? Texting? Hanging out together at school? Before you can decide if you’re ready, you will want to define exactly what dating means to you and to the person you’re considering dating.
Are you emotionally ready? How do you handle stress and responsibility? Can you speak up for your own needs? Do you consider others when making decisions? Do you feel empathy for others? How do you handle conflict? All of these things are important to consider when deciding if you’re ready to date.
Do you know yourself well? Do you know what you like to do? What interests you? Do you have strong friendships? Do you know what’s important to you, what you value, what you think is right and wrong? It’s easy to get lost in a relationship and take on the interests and values of another person, so it’s especially important that you have a strong sense of self before getting into a relationship.
Have you talked to your parents/guardians about it? What do they think? Sometimes the people who know us well and love us can offer insight and perspective we don’t have.
After a Break-up:
Have you found YOU again? Do you feel like a whole person or like ½ of a couple? After a break-up, you’ll feel different than you did before the relationship. That’s because you are different. You’ll never be the same. But you do want to feel like a whole, complete person before you think about getting involved with someone else.
Do you still feel angry or bitter? If you’re still working through a lot of anger, you probably aren’t ready to date someone new. Give yourself time to heal.
Are you happy on your own? Can you have fun? In a healthy relationship, both people bring happiness and joy and fun to share with each other. It’s important to be able to be happy on your own, rather than looking to someone else to make you happy.
Have you acknowledged your role in the break-up? Just as relationships can’t succeed by the efforts of only one person, relationships rarely fall apart because of the failures or weaknesses of only one person. Do you understand your role in the break-up? Do you know what mistakes you made or what things you need to work on so that the same pitfalls don’t show up in your next relationship?
Can you trust again? Relationships require trust. If you can’t trust someone yet, it’s going to be really hard to date. Have you healed enough to risk trusting again?
As a Single Parent:
Are you taking care of yourself? Do you make time for self-care? Whether it’s a bubble bath, exercise, coffee or dinner with friends, a good book, or quiet time alone, if you don’t have time to take care of yourself, you probably don’t have time for a relationship. And if you aren’t taking care of yourself, what do you have to offer someone else?
What are your reasons? Do you think you NEED a relationship? Do you want rescued or to feel needed? Do you want companionship? Do you miss adult conversations? Maybe you can talk through your reasons with a trusted friend who will be honest with you about whether your reasons could lead to a healthy relationship.
Are you really ready? Look over the questions to ask after a break-up and consider your answers. Do you feel emotionally ready to date?
Are your kids ready? Of course, you don’t have to introduce every date to your kids. You don’t even have to tell them that you’re dating at first. But are they ready to accept the idea of a new romantic interest in your life? And if not, how can you help get them ready?
When you are ready, choosing to date can lead to wonderful experiences. Dating can be a way to share your happiness and wholeness with someone else. In order to do that, you’ll need a solid sense of self and the emotional reserves to give warmth and support and joy to someone else as well as the openness to receive the same in return. If you’re ready for that, then go ahead! If you’re not ready just yet, that’s OK. There’s no rush.