Let’s take this relationship thing to the next level. WHAT IF… I’m happier alone?
Do You Really Want a Partner?
It’s a vicious cycle.
SEEK > ATTRACT > PURSUE > DATE > KISS > [HAPPY EVER AFTER] (THE GOAL)
but mine keeps looking more like this
SEEK > ATTRACT > PURSUE > DATE > KISS > [BREAK UP] (THE FAILURE)
But, there’s hope. Here’s the idea. If we’re failing, we’re at least learning. We’re still in the arena. We’re still working on ourselves and our relationship skills. If we find ourselves, once again, at the ending, a magical thing happens. If you’re like me, the ending of a relationship, no matter how great it seemed as it emerged, the ending is a new beginning. The world, the blue sky, my open heart, now has no limits.
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Dating Without Limits
So let’s say we’re single again. We’re reassessing our recent lesson in relating that didn’t go as planned. Or maybe it did, maybe there were parts of your relationship that were not working for you. It is hard to pull out of a partnership that began with such promise. As the optimistic partner, I may continue to give us another chance. I may give you 10 opportunities to meet my request for some detail of our intimacy. And you may choose to flex into “what’s next” with me, or you may not make any concessions at all. You may choose to do nothing.
As we move out of the last relationship and towards the new horizon of “next” we have so many opportunities to get our act together. Here’s what I tell my coaching clients all the time:
- take a break
- work on yourself
- take stock of what went right and what went wrong
- make note of how you could do things more efficiently
- set new goals
- reestablish your intentions and boundaries
All of this, BEFORE you reenter the dating game.
Before You Take Your Act On The Road
Before you go back out there flying your “here I am, ready, willing, and healthy” flag, make sure you’re actually ready. Do you have the time and energy to commit to a relationship? What if the other person has young kids, are you willing to split your time and often find yourself alone and waiting for the bedtime routine to be complete? And then you hope your partner returns with a little bit of energy left over for you. Are you ready to put the WE of your coupleship ahead of your own agenda?
Do you have time to commit to a long-term relationship? Are your goals in alignment with your newly introduced person of interest? Can you pay attention to the red flags even as the chemistry and sexual energy is heating up? Can you allow the romantic fires to catch inside you AND remain centered enough to evaluate the emotional availability of your new partner?
Let’s make sure YOU are ready for what’s next, BEFORE you start engaging in the courting rituals. Let’s put your goals in place. Have you written your LIST?
The List – What We Want in a Partner
- nice to have
- red flags
- show stoppers
- emotional availability signs for moving forward
Have You Built Your List?
Having your ideal partner list in place is a really good step towards shooting for your next relationship. It’s fine to have these things in our head. But when we put them in writing, on a list, and we revisit that list as we measure our current relationship trajectory against our ideal road map, we can get clear clues about where things are heading. If someone goes OFF THE MAP, we know it is time to let go and move on. When someone continues to meet our map goals, it’s time to look seriously at where you really want things to go.
Happily Ever After
If you’re like me, you want to find your forever home. I don’t want to reenter the dating pool. Dating again is not like torture, but it’s also not where most of us thrive. If you’re an enthusiastic dater, perhaps you’re goals are not to settle down. Playing the field is fine, if that’s one of your goals. My goals revolve around getting clearer with MY LIST and continuing to seek a partner who is adaptable and willing to seek higher states of love with me. WITH ME. And WITH ME FOREVER.
Sure, I’m an idealist. But here’s another rule I’ve learned in my life and in my coaching business: you cannot settle. Settling for “meh” or “maybe” will get you exactly that. In the long-run, settling will end in a broken relationship. You MUST start with ideal. You must start with all of your goals in play. Then as you move into the “relating” part of the relationship, when the honeymoon and sexual heat are starting to wain, you can really test your partnership and how they measure up to your goals. Is this the relationship you want? Is this person worthy of a lifetime of growth and exploration? Are their demands and wounds within your ability to support and love them?
Most of the time things don’t work out for various reasons. That’s why we end up back here at square one. We begin again. We find our hope and our newly edited list and we head back out into the snowstorm of online dating, offline dating, and the pursuit of a partner. At least, this time we have a better map. And if we do the work, a better chance at finding our forever partner.
Let’s Set Our Goals, Let’s Find Our Next Partner
Here’s the advice, if you’re just breaking up, or just beginning to consider dating again.
- Get your list together
- measure potential partners against your list
- make sure you’re not getting pulled in by beauty and sexual chemistry alone
- check yourself and your feelings often
- and seek your ultimate partner (idealism is required here)
- do. not. settle. for. less.
That’s it. You’ve just been given my simple dating coach plan. It’s what I do all the time, helping women and men find healthy and loving partnerships. And then, more importantly, help them explore and keep those relationships healthy. You don’t want to find your ultimate partner and then screw it up. You want to find your partner, be the best partner they’ve ever had, and sail off into the sunset together. That’s my goal for myself and for you. And what I can tell you is this, I am in the arena with you. I am seeking the same thing in my life. And I can help you maintain your optimism, focus, and determination that is required to continue the quest even when things get hard.
You’ve got to keep going. Your partner is out there. You’ve got to stay true to your path, true to your goals and boundaries, and give each person the flexibility to show up in your life and be a YES. We want the YES in our lives. We keep getting MAYBEs or NOs, but we seek the YES. I can help your stay focused on the prize. I’m willing and able to guide you and help you stay true to yourself and your healthy relationship goals. Let’s get started.
As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find lives after divorce. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your dating/relationship challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.
- The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
- Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce – John McElhenney
More articles from The Whole Parent:
- Dad’s Divorce Journey: 9-years Later I Still Feel the Loss of Kid-time
- Heal Your Heart from the Fear and Loss by Opening with Vulnerability
- Self-Care and Appreciation: Can I Love All of Myself Right Now?
- 3 Required Traits for Building a Lasting Relationship
- The Big Three Marriage Issues and the Hope of Counseling
- 8 Lessons from My First 2 Divorces
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce: Advice and Strategies on Learning How to be Loved Again
- Fall of the House of Dad: My journey through divorce, from loss to joy, again and again
- A Good Dad’s Guide to Divorce: One father’s quest to stay connected with his children
- The Third Glass: When Drinking Becomes an Issue