If you’re looking to find love after a divorce, breakup, or death, dating again can feel scary. And if you’ve never used a dating app or website before, it can be even more intimidating. Although fear is normal, online dating can be fun — as long as you arm yourself with the right tools and information. To give yourself the best chance of success, it’s helpful to mentally prepare for what you might encounter as you get back out there.
For some advice on venturing into the world of online dating, we spoke with Heather Dugan, author of Date Like a Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt & Advice Between Friends (Buy from Amazon, $13.99). Dugan, who believes having a strong foundation in yourself and in your friendships is key to a healthy dating life, offered three tips to live by. Give these some thought as you swipe, and you’ll be back in the swing of things before you know it!
Be clear about your dating goals.
As you begin to date again, you’re bound to hear horror stories of dates gone wrong. But according to Dugan, dating can actually be a great experience. “For beginning daters, the first step is to be clear about what you’re looking for,” she says. “People come on the dating apps thinking they are looking for one thing, when really, they might be coming from a different place. Establish who you are and what you’re looking for right away.”
So, do you feel ready to dive back into a long-term relationship, or are you just looking for a little romance on a casual basis? Is monogamy a must, or are you happy to date around? Think it through before you set up your profile — and don’t be afraid to change your mind (and your settings!) as you find your footing.
It might sound obvious, but before jumping back into online dating, make sure you know yourself inside and out. “Dating is a time of discovery on a lot of levels. People who are newly divorced or widowed are learning who they are without the person they were with before. You have to do the world on your own a bit,” Dugan says.
You can start doing this by asking yourself some basic questions about your interests, hobbies, values, and priorities. What is important to you? How do you enjoy spending your free time? Are you more of an introvert who likes spending time alone, or are you more extroverted and social? These answers will help you figure out what type of person might make the best partner for you.
Make friends with your fear.
Dugan calls the anxiety of entering the dating world once more “FODA”, or, Fear Of Dating Again. “There’s nothing wrong with being tentative. But identify the fear and be honest with yourself about whether you’re ready. Make sure that you’re engaging socially before [focusing on] romantic relationships. Most of all, have the realistic expectation of meeting interesting people and learning new things. This takes the pressure off.”
The world of online dating can feel overwhelming, but if you do the work to make sure you’re prepared before you leap, it could lead to something wonderful. (And if you’re wondering which site to use, check out this list of the best dating sites for older adults!)
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