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When the Time Is Really Right, You'll Get Back on the Bike
When I go out on a first date, I don't want to know anything about my date's ex-girlfriend(s). I especially don't want to find out after a good first date that he's so not over his ex-girlfriend, fiancée or, worse yet, an ex-wife!
We've all been there … trying to put ourselves back out there when we think we're ready.
I joined JDate for the first time only a month after I broke up with a serious boyfriend. That first new date was Ross. It felt good that I was moving on, but during the second date, I felt differently. We went to a romantic restaurant and then saw a movie, during which Ross held my hand and I pretended that he was my ex. I was obviously not ready to start dating again!
He wanted to move forward, but I was still hung up on the past. I had thought that dating would help me move on, but I still needed more time to heal.
My friend Monica had an opposite experience when she went out with Chandler - on a date that was going well. (I'm obviously changing the names to protect my "Friends.") Two hours into the date he said, "I told you about the wedding right?"
"What wedding?" asked Monica.
He told her he was supposed to be married two weeks prior, and that he had called off the wedding three weeks ago.
"What's he doing dating me?!" she thought. At the end of the date, Monica wished Chandler good luck because she clearly had no intention of going on more dates with a guy who'd just ended such a serious relationship.
Love Cats? Smoking?
How do you know you're really ready again?
Imagine you're on your first date again. Ask yourself: "Do I want to talk about myself and learn about this new person, or do I want to talk about my ex?"
If the only person on your mind is your ex, you're not ready yet! Spare the sob stories for your friends and family, not the poor date. Your first date should not be a therapy session; he does not want to hear about some guy you used to love. He wants to learn about you.
It's normal to want to compare a new potential relationship with your old one. But it's not okay if you find yourself on a date thinking, "Would my ex have done it this way?" or going overboard about other comparisons. It's a good thing to be able to create some sort of check list of strong likes and especially strong dislikes, but it's another to compareeverything.
If your ex was a smoker or had too many cats, you might see a cat-lover who smokes as a red flag for someone not to date.
However, if the new date is an animal person and you aren't, maybe you can overlook the cats and dogs to focus on the good qualities that complete your checklist. Being too picky is often a sign that you're not ready, because you might be anticipating failure from the beginning.
If, after your break-up, you still feel miserable about being single and think you don't have much else going for you, there is a huge chance you will convey that to your date; therefore, it's not the right time to get out there again. After a break-up, it's time to relearn who you are, want you want and what makes you happy.
Make sure that you don't give yourself a time frame. It could take two weeks to move on, or it could take more than six months. I knew I was ready again after I was single long enough to be happy with myself being alone.
My single friend Jon put it best. He broke up with his ex after a year-and-a-half relationship, and has been single for a few months. Only now is he ready to find someone new.
"I have a great job, a great apartment, great friends, and now I just want the girlfriend as kind of the icing on the cake," he said. "Not because I feel like I need a girlfriend - because I am very happy being single right now."
After the end of an important relationship, it's normal to want to find the next best thing. Instead of joining JDate or heading off to the bars to rush to find the next person, spend as much time as possible with your family and friends. Focus on yourself. If you have children, it can also be therapeutic to focus even more energy on them. Think about them and not your ex.
After my friend Phoebe broke up with her boyfriend, she was devastated. She thought they'd marry; instead, she discovered that he wasn't "the one." After a few months, she decided to date again. Each time, she psyched herself up, telling herself this next guy will be her next boyfriend, but after each date, she became even more disappointed.
Then she met Joey.
He was good enough. He took her out to nice restaurants, they had a reasonable time together; he even took her traveling. During their four-month relationship, Phoebe found herself in somewhat of a blur; she didn't feel any butterflies. She could have cared less about Joey, and she certainly didn't see herself marrying him. She knew she had to end it and spend some more time alone.
On the next few dates, Phoebe took on a completely new attitude. She now had no expectations beyond the first date. If a guy made it to the second date, that was great; if not, no big deal.
If a first date doesn't make it to the second, forget about it and take it for what it is. Think of it as an hour or more to just enjoy someone else's company.
The next person you date after being seriously involved probably won't be "the one," and most likely, he or she won't live up to your ex either. It's normal to want a new person to fill a void, but in order to be happy in your next relationship, you must focus on filling that space with your own happiness.
Where did you go on a second date? And where did you meet your latest match? E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.