We all deserve to love someone and feel loved, no matter what age we are. And getting back into the dating game to meet new people is often the first step to finding this flourishing romance. But how do you go about seeking out a beau beyond your own circle of friends and acquaintances? Or how do you manage your nerves about meeting someone new, especially after loss or divorce?
We asked Cate McKenzie, a qualified life coach and psychosexual therapist, to put your concerns at ease and share her expert tips on boosting your confidence and finding opportunities to meet someone new.
How do you figure out if you’re ready for a new relationship?
Everyone will get over old relationships and feel ready for new ones at a different rate. The best thing to do is to sit yourself down and ask, "if I had no fear at all about anything, would I like a relationship?"
If the answer is "yes" then go for it. Just start dating, with no real expectations or ambitions, and you may be surprised. You often won’t end up in a relationship immediately but you’ll start to work out what sort of person you like and what kind of relationship you might be after.
If you’ve only just come out of a relationship quite recently, say within a couple of months, you may want to take a bit more time to heal.
Only you will really know how ready you are but it can be helpful to have a heart-to-heart with a close friend who knows you well and see what they think too.
What’s the best way to boost your confidence to prepare yourself to meet someone new?
Your confidence is all down to and you can really get a boost by giving yourself a treat.
Spend a day doing the things you love and perhaps having a pamper. Try on some new clothes you could wear for a date, get your hair or make-up done and just relax.
While you’re doing this, start to talk more kindly to yourself. Look in the mirror and say "you look lovely." Accepting yourself can be the first step to accepting a new partner.
If people pay you a compliment, write it down and keep it in an envelope or box so that you can read and remember it again later when you need a lift.
What’s your advice on finding opportunities to meet someone new?
First of all, make a list of all the things you’ve ever wanted to do. Do this for at least fifteen minutes and be as imaginative and adventurous as possible — don’t hold back! Then start searching for where you could do any of these hobbies in your local listings. You could try dancing classes, talks, or walking groups.
Think too about where the type of person you might like to meet may hang out — comedy clubs and sporting events are often popular with men. Even if you don’t necessarily meet a partner at these classes and events, you’ll have lots of fun and learn new things in the process.
So you’ve gone out your comfort zone and spotted someone nice. How do you go about approaching them?
Saying "hello" is still a very good way of making a connection. Or give them a compliment about what they’re wearing, how they look or just say "I noticed you and just wanted to say hi, my name’s… what’s yours?" If they don’t respond then wish them well and move on.
Keep breathing and slow down enough to keep your voice steady. If you’ve struck up a conversation with them and are enjoying it, then tell them you’d like to chat again some time and give them your details.
How do you make sure first dates go smoothly?
Wear clothes that make you feel pretty and confident and make sure you’ve taken time beforehand to relax and calm down. Then breathe and keep your mind on the present at the first date. Try not to moan or talk about your exes as this tends to not go down too well.
Be light, be fun and be you but don’t tell them all your secrets — they can get to know you more later on.
For a first date, meet for an hour or so, preferably in the daytime or early evening so you have a reason to go somewhere else after. If you enjoyed the date, make sure you tell them and that you’d like to see them again.
How about online dating?
Online dating is a great way of not only meeting new people but also building your confidence as you write and respond to people, putting out the message that you are looking to meet someone.
In your dating profile it’s good to be clear on the kind of things you enjoy, what sort of relationship you’d like e.g. someone to go the theatre with, share cosy evenings on the sofa, as well as the values and traits you like a partner to have e.g. funny, kind, loyal etc...Try to be specific but not picky.
Try to allocate 10 minutes to an hour in the day to look at your dating site so it doesn’t take over your life. If you arrange to meet up, get together in the daytime at a public place and tell a friend where you are going.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours.