How to date when you’ve been out of the game

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“I have absolutely no idea how to date,” says Michelle, 43, from Sydney. “I don’t know what the rules are, I wouldn’t know where to go… and what would I even wear?” she laughs.

“I work up the courage to think about dating, and then ten minutes later, I think about actually doing it and then I worry about what if it weren’t to work out and how I’d handle that rejection,” says Kay, 39 and a single mother of two.

These ladies aren’t the only ones who have been out of the dating game for a while and are terrified to dive back in – it’s a fear echoed by many more women across the country. It’s not surprising though – not only has the dating world changed significantly over the past few years (like how you can download the eHarmony app to your phone and literally be meeting people while sunning yourself in your back garden!), but when you’ve taken a break from something for a significant period of time, it’s always going to be a little daunting getting back into it. But whether you’re finally over a divorce, have suddenly found the time to date or just simply desire a life partner, finding ‘the one’ makes the risks of diving back in worth it. To make the transition into the dating world a little easier, we asked Kerrie McFadden, a relationship counsellor with Relationships Australia, for her advice on how to handle some of the biggest fears women have.

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  1. “I’m terrified of rejection. How do I get over this?” Sara, 30

It’s always good to stay tuned into your gut and if you’re feeling insecure to only jump back into the dating pond when you’re ready. Perhaps try a staged approach by joining a social group, with people who have common interests to you. It’s a good way to test the waters and regain your confidence. Yes it is scary and of course further rejection is always a possibility, so have some strategies in place to deal with that if and when it occurs. A new relationship not working might be less about rejection of you and more about the baggage of the other person.

  1. “I don’t know what the dating rules are these days? Do I even need to follow dating rules?” Sue, 51

It depends on the person, the age group and the social situation. For example a younger prospective partner might be very comfortable with women doing the approaching. And remember approaching someone to socially connect doesn’t necessarily mean you want to date, you might just want to enjoy their company and take it from there. Dating ‘rules’ are constantly changing, so be guided by your own needs and judgement, otherwise you could be waiting a long time.

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  1. “I’m worried I’m too selfish to date. How can you find the balance between fitting a partner into your life and enjoying your own freedom?” Kelsey, 34

Selfish is an interesting word that means different things to different people. Becoming accustomed to being your own master and taking responsibility for your own choices doesn’t mean a mutual respectful relationship can’t fit in your life. You can find a balance, but it will probably take a bit of negotiating. Living singly does not carry the stigma it once did, in fact there are plenty of singles out there who enjoy their own space but also enjoy an intimate partner, and not necessarily involving living together. Be clear on your own needs and boundaries – listen to the little signals in yourself, don’t put a muffler on them. Having a healthy relationship is easier when you’re comfortable in your own skin first. And of course the next time around will always be different – not only because it’s with a different person, but you will have grown, matured and learned from experience.

Are you contemplating getting back into the dating game? Let us know in the comments below, or join the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today- find someone made for you.

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