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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Date & Relate > Love Hangovers

Date & Relate
by Sara Hodon

Love Hangovers
When Should You Get Back Into the Game?

Dating is not for the faint of heart.

You have to be made of some pretty strong stuff to keep putting yourself out there, enduring one lukewarm first date after another.  It can get expensive, too—ladies, how many times have we purchased special outfits in an effort of impressing a new guy?  And guys—if you usually pay, those costs can quickly add up.  But have you ever stopped to think about why you’re so hell-bent on finding love?   Rather than filling your calendar with dates just so you have plans on the weekend, it might be time to take a short breather and re-examine just what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and, most importantly, why you’re doing it. 


Think about why finding someone is so important to you. 
This might seem like an obvious question with a simple answer, but this might help you to do some serious soul-searching.  Why is finding someone so important to you?  Are you getting older and feeling pressure from friends or family to “settle down”?  Do you dislike being alone and crave the security of having someone in your life?  Or are you simply just sick and tired of the losers you’ve dated lately, and ready to meet Mr. or Miss Right?  Once you take stock of why you’re running yourself ragged by dating anyone who asks, it will make it easier to determine what you actually want. 

Don’t hop from one relationship into the next without giving yourself some recovery time.    If nothing else, it will give you a chance to throw out your ex’s clothes and leave nasty messages on their cell (just kidding—I don’t recommend that sort of thing!)  Moping, bingeing on ice cream, and sporting your collection of sweats for a few days are normal post-breakup behaviors.  In fact, I think it’s necessary to give yourself a mental and emotional breather before you get involved with someone new.  But don’t let it go on for too long.  I usually force myself to get back into the world after two weeks, max.   After this, it’s time to reconnect with your friends and with yourself.  Head to the gym, make lunch plans, paint your bedroom…get back to the things you’d always liked doing, but have been neglecting.  You might be surprised at how much better you feel when you find something else to focus on. 

List what you’re truly looking for. 
There’s a saying that sums this up perfectly: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”   In other words, if you’ve gotten into a pattern of dating a certain type of person, unless you pinpoint why you seem to keep attracting this type, you’ll never be able to break the cycle.  For example, last year I went through a phase of dating at least 6 or 7 guys who were not ready for anything serious, though I’d been under the impression that they were.  Two of them were still trying to relive their college days and were more interested in hanging out at the bar with their buddies.   A few were just getting out of serious relationships and claimed to be ready, but clearly were not.  The rest were just not for me.   It was easy for me to walk away from these guys, because I knew we were not in the same place, emotionally or otherwise.  I kept trying, but it still kept happening.  I finally decided to be more selective, and took a break for awhile so I could re-evaluate the types of guys I’d been going out with.  Make a list of what you’re looking for in a partner, and though compromise is necessary in any relationship, don’t settle for less than you deserve.   If you do, I can guarantee you’ll resent them later. 

Ease into it. 
Once you feel ready to start dating again, start slowly.  I wouldn’t sign up for 5 dating sites and tell all of your friends that you’ll go out with anyone with a pulse.  Keep it casual at first.  Mention to a few people that you’d be willing to be set up, and see what happens.  If you’ve never tried online dating before, check out 1 or 2 sites and search through the profiles before you sign up for a membership.  Be open to dating someone you may not have considered before, but be a little selective this time, too. 

Let yourself move on.   
Make peace with your last relationship.   This is the one that I seem to have the most trouble with.  It’s natural to find yourself comparing your next relationship to the one you just left, but don’t do it so much that you start to wonder if you’re really over your past.   Don’t let old grudges linger.  Whether or not you were able to clear your conscience and said everything you needed to say to your ex, find a way to get closure.   It might seem like a good idea to try to be friends so you still have that connection, but I don’t recommend this.  At least, not right away.  Give yourself some distance from the person and your feelings for them first. 

Do not—I repeat, do not—pursue a relationship if you’re truly not ready.   
Only you know when you’re ready to get back on the scene.   You may go on a few dates, but make sure it’s what you really want before it gets serious.  It’s not fair to you or the other person if you keep spending time with them just for the sake of not being alone or to spare their feelings.  You don’t need to become a serial dater and hop from one person to the next, but if it’s not working, don’t prolong it.  No one likes to hear “I think we should see other people”, but they’ll appreciate the honesty.  You’d want the same from them.


Date & Relate is published every Thursday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Sara Hodon.

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