So when is it a good time to start dating? Well, there’s no stock answer, although many counsellors and programmes suggest waiting 12 months before launching yourself into a new relationship.
Of course, the truth is, you’re the only one who can say whether you’re ready or not. We all need to be emotionally nurtured by others, so it’s natural for you to want to reach out at some point. You must decide when the time’s right.
When you do feel ready, look at these reminders before taking the first plunge:
1. Only fools rush in…
Ask yourself if you’re ready to share your time with a partner, or if you’re really using the relationship as a distraction.
Don’t say “I do”…
Don’t make any big decisions – like moving in together, marrying or having children – within the first year. If either of you seems keen to move faster than this, it could be a sign that there’ll be issues further down the line.
Take your time getting to know your partner and whether they’re a good fit (or not). And have fun in the process!
2. Honesty’s the best policy
While it’s quite normal to be nervous about describing your journey of self discovery, it really is the best approach.
The fear of being judged or rejected may encourage you to make excuses – for instance, about why you’re not drinking (e.g. “I’m on antibiotics” or “I have to get up for work”). But do you want to keep repeating these lies on every date?
Building for the future
Approaching this sensitive subject honestly, and at the start of a relationship, is a good foundation for what will (hopefully) follow.
Your self development is a part of you, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about your past, or the work you’re doing to move towards the future.
Present Partners offers you the best chance of finding like-minded people, on a similar journey to you, and so reduces the risk of judgement or rejection.
3. Alone – but not forever
You should continue to focus on the programme you’re attending or the regular counselling you’re receiving – don’t get distracted by relationships.
People gaining self awareness from emotional issues or trauma need time to learn how to cope with triggers and deal with urges in a healthy, mature and interdependent way. Being alone gives you the headspace to do that – and makes you stronger physically, mentally and emotionally.
Being stronger puts you in a better place to start exploring the world of dating and relationships.
4. You’re the priority
Regardless of your relationship status, you should put your own needs first, and focus on your programme of self development.
When a relationship’s new, it’s tempting to shift your priorities and – without realising – start to neglect the routine that’s helped you stay on track. While being self-aware can prevent this negative shift, it’ll be even easier to avoid if your partner is 100% behind your development too.
Picking a partner
Your ideal partner will learn about and understand your particular needs for development, and become a supporter of your continuing journey.
On the other hand, if your partner has unresolved issues, it’s more likely that they’ll lead you down a path that’s counter-productive to your development. There’s also an increased risk of temporarily reversing development following the break-up of such a relationship.
Answer these questions honestly, and then figure out if you’ve picked the right partner.
5. The benefits of therapy
In therapy, you’ll gain insights into the origins of your emotional challenges and look at the patterns of behaviour behind your previous choices of partner.
You’ll also work together with your counsellor to assess when you might be ready to start dating. If you’re already in a relationship and need support, couples counselling or group programs might help too.
6. Keep up the good work
Structure and routine are crucial to the developmental process and the good work you’re still doing. So don’t let dating and relationships get in the way.
Consider where you spend the majority of your time – your work, group programs, gym, and so on. To avoid potentially stressful situations and the risk of taking backwards steps, do not date someone from these important places – use Present Partners instead!
Our aim is to make dating and relationships a little easier by opening up opportunities for you to meet people on a similar journey.
Learn more about the ‘Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship’.