Dear Carolyn: I’m newly single after being dumped from a serious, long-term relationship. I didn’t see this coming. I thought the relationship was perfect. It turns out my ex was telling me things were perfect but secretly romancing someone else behind my back.
I’m starting to move past the stage of wanting my ex back and into the stage of wanting to find a new person to be in a relationship with. However, I don’t want to ruin my chances with new people by trying to date before I’m really ready. How will I know when I’m ready? How long do I really need to wait? – C.
As long as it takes to meet someone you want to date – which is very different from reaching the point of wanting to date.
“Wanting to date” is interviewing for a vacancy, and too often the first step in agreeing to the least unappealing candidate.
Another reason to be patient: You’ve positioned yourself to make that mistake, or one like it, before you’ve even accepted a date, with, “I don’t want to ruin my chances with new people.” You’re trying to impress these candidates, versus treating them as people who need to impress you.
Think about your role here. Your job is to be you, which includes being the chief beneficiary of all things you do right, the chief victim of all you do wrong and the one person on Earth who has to live with every choice you make. As gatekeeper to your life, you’re it.
Therefore, you will be “really ready” when you can trust yourself to mind that gate effectively – when you can think clearly, judge fairly, give wisely and, especially given your recent history, read accurately whether someone is good for you.
Your baseline for such accurate readings is the happiness of your life on your own – the phase between wanting the old and wanting the new. Nurture that, please, until someone deserves to be invited in.