How to Prepare to Start Dating (Even If You Aren't Ready) - Dr. Sharon Cohen
If you aren't sure if you are ready to start dating, perhaps getting your mind, body, and soul back into the game will help. Here are some suggestions.
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How to Prepare to Start Dating (Even If You Aren’t Ready)

How to Prepare to Start Dating (Even If You Aren’t Ready)

Another night at home with your besties, Ben & Jerry, and you start to wonder if more is out there for you. Are you ready to start dating?

You aren’t feeling game quite yet, but you’re wondering “what could I do to make myself more ready to start dating when the time comes?”

Allow me to offer a few suggestions to ease your mind, body, and soul back into the world of dating.


Getting your mind ready to start dating again

First, recognize your need to put yourself center stage.

I don’t know what went on in your last relationship or what’s going on in your life. What I do know is that many women who aren’t ready to start dating have been putting themselves second for a long time.

We are taught that it’s good to be self-less.

Being self-centered is bad, rude, and ugly.

Yet, what does it mean to be self-less? If taken literally, selfless means to have no sense of self. You are more concerned with other people’s needs and wishes than with your own.

Who are you then?

You are someone who is willing to hurt yourself rather than see someone else suffer. You will take on other people’s pain, if you think you can spare them feeling that pain.

Being willing to put yourself first means you are willing to cause other people pain. If you don’t put what you need above others, you are sure to cause yourself pain.

That doesn’t mean you don’t take other people into consideration. It means you take care of YOU, first. Then, you find out what other people want or need. Basic human survival dictates this. Doing otherwise will cause you to become extinct.

If you don't have a romantic connection when you start dating someone, be clear time spent together will be as friends only

If you don’t have a romantic connection, be clear time spent together will be as friends only

For instance, if you go on a couple of dates and don’t feel the romantic spark you need to continue dating, don’t just “ghost.” If and/or when he asks you out again, say that you aren’t feeling the chemistry you need to continue to socialize in a romantic way. It’s the right thing to do.

Don’t continue to keep going out because you don’t want to hurt him. Don’t dodge his calls because you think that’s kinder. It’s not.

Instead, thank him for the time you’ve spent together. Tell him you don’t have the chemistry you need to continue. If you are open to staying in contact and being friends, say that. If he wants to keep seeing you, be clear it would be as friends only.

He’ll appreciate your honesty. You are SAVING him the pain of wondering if he’s chasing someone who is or is not interested.


Getting real about dating and relating

Second, get realistic about what dating is.

My mama used to say to me when I was young and afraid “well, it’s not like you’re going to marry the guy.

Such wise words. Mama knows best.

Let’s break this down. Sometimes we get hung up on labels, making things much more daunting.

What is a “date?” A date is an opportunity to sit across a table, getting to know another human being. Nothing more. Nothing less.

When we start to put a whole bunch of meaning on a date, we psych ourselves out.

So much better to put a spin on it to take the anxiety away from whatever story you have in your head about what it means to go on a date.

Some possible storylines:

  • You are meeting a new friend.
  • A college buddy of one of your best guy friends is in town. Your friend asked you to meet up with his friend from college and keep him company until he meets up with him later.
  • You are going to a networking meeting (but you’re not going to talk about work)

Putting these less anxiety-provoking spins on any upcoming “DATE” will allow you to relax. Come up with your own that makes you feel more comfortable if the concept of a date is too threatening.

Come back to the reality that we all are human beings seeking connection.

If you don’t find it with this person, be kind to him. Leave him better than when you met him.


Getting your body ready to start dating

Keep yourself and your home in good sensual and sexual shape.

What does this mean? Look good, sound good, smell good, feel good, taste good.

What are men looking for? A woman to bring sensuousness into their life.

Look around most men’s bachelor pads. Do you see much attention being paid to the five senses? Many a man has said his home needs “a woman’s touch.”

What is a “woman’s touch?”

Women get turned on or off by their senses. Everything we see, touch, taste, smell or hear can light us up or throw cold water on a situation.

Men crave this part of a woman’s essence. They want their woman to look good, feel good, taste good, smell good, and sound good.

The best way we can look good to a man is to have a smile on our faces. Men like women who are happy and appreciative.

What feels good to your body? Is it walking? Or dancing? Maybe yoga?

What feels good to your body? Is it walking? Or dancing? Maybe yoga?

Although many roads lead to being happy, one path is to feel good in your body. How are you moving it? Do you move your body in ways that feel good to you? Some ideas are dancing, yoga, walking, swimming – whatever helps you feel good in your own skin. (Science Show Your Body Movements Can Affect Your Mood Without Even Knowing It)

Furthermore, how you stand and posture your body impacts how you feel. Amy Cuddy in her talk about body language talks about how the “Power Posture” helps you feel more confident. (Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are)

Shawn Achor in the Happiness Advantage talks about how smiling helps us feel happier. Even more powerful, Achor says that our external world does not predict our happiness. Ninety percent of our happiness comes from the way our brain processes the world. Therefore, our happiness comes first from within. Then we can achieve success.

What are you putting in your body? Do you eat healthy foods? Studies show that what you eat has a direct influence on how you feel. (Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food) Foods that are unprocessed help you feel better than foods that are processed.

Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood.

Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourish the brain and protect it from oxidative stress — the “waste” (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.

Unfortunately, just like an expensive car, your brain can be damaged if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. If substances from “low-premium” fuel (such as what you get from processed or refined foods) get to the brain, it has little ability to get rid of them. Diets high in refined sugars, for example, are harmful to the brain. In addition to worsening your body’s regulation of insulin, they also promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.

Eat right to feel right

Eat right to feel right

Other studies have found that the less we eat, the better we feel. A 2-year study found that calorie restriction led participants to “significantly improved mood, reduced, and improved general health and sexual drive and relationship at month 24 as well as improved sleep duration at month 12.” (Effect of Calorie Restriction on Mood, Quality of Life, Sleep, and Sexual Function in Healthy Nonobese Adults)

You don’t necessarily need to go to all these lengths to feel good in your body. In fact, if you have a history of eating disorder, currently in remission, I would suggest staying away from calorie restriction as it might trigger your past eating control issues.

But do something new. If you are someone who is in your head all the time at work, make sure you sink down into your body for at least one hour a day.


Getting your soul ready to start dating

Do the work to get yourself ready to meet your person and he will show up. You will not miss each other. However, you have to do the work.

Know your three non-negotiables. Do not waver from them. They are NON-negotiables for a reason.

Be happy with you. Even if you know you would rather be in a relationship than be alone, know that you are ok.

On the other hand, if you are in the space where you think you’d rather be alone than be in a relationship, then maybe you want to look at what’s going on for you. Staying unattached is absolutely a valid and viable choice if made from a peaceful and content place.

However, if staying single is made from a place of despair, then working with someone to move you forward to feeling hope and confidence again is critical.

You must be connected to your “self” in order to live a healthy, coherent existence.

Actually, being self-centered or centered in self is the way to that healthy life.

Be you. Know who you are.

Feel you. Know what you feel.

Think you. Know what you do and don’t believe.

Share you. Know how to say what you think and/or feel in the moment.

Pay attention to whether you are being the authentic person you were born to be.

When you are being your most authentic self and are able to radiate out a true comfort with who you are, you’ll be ready to start dating.

And your energy will draw in the perfect partner for you.


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