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Ready or Not-Ready for a Relationship: The Dating Game

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It’s a game. People’s profile pictures are 10-years old. Their profiles forget to mention they’re not divorced yet. Or, the most, insidious, they’re simply not ready for a relationship. They are testing the waters, checking it out, seeing what’s out there. Blah!

So what does ready for a relationship mean?

  1. Not currently in a relationship
  2. Sufficiently through with their emotional issues
  3. Interested in spending time with someone besides their kids
  4. Emotionally intelligent (expresses feelings, can listen without offering advice)
  5. On the positive side of life (not looking to be rescued, or to be a caretaker)

Dating is simple. Relationships are hard work. Well, they can be hard work, or they can be temporarily effortless. I think that’s what we’re imagining when we jump back into the dating pool again. We remember the highs of love crushes, the sex, the joy, the “hi, I am soooo glad to see you” feelings that are bantered back and forth when you are establishing a new love relationship.

But the R-word has some issues for many people. And I’ve run across my share of women running from any kind of commitment. Sure, that’s one way to be. And perhaps, in the early stages of divorce, a light approach is better, you really don’t need a relationship, you need healing.

Simple signs that a person is NOT ready for a relationship.

  1. They are still bitter or angry about the divorce, or their ex (until someone has moved on it is very hard to be in a relationship)
  2. Their profile just talk about “having fun” and all their pictures involve a glass of wine
  3. They can’t stop talking
  4. They talk about their multiple lovers
  5. They’ve got no banter (they can talk about work, working out, and partying)
  6. You get the feeling you are with someone who’s still in college (fun is fine, but fun isn’t everything)
  7. Everything is superficial (if it’s hard for them to tell their breakup story, perhaps they’re not ready)

Here’s what you want.

  1. A person who you find non-threateningly attractive
  2. They are optimistic and positive (I’m beginning to think optimism is the trump card)
  3. They can jump easily from divorce and dating conversations to music, to whatever
  4. You get a happy feeling when you see them (this could be the definition of chemistry)
  5. At the end of the first date, you are both signaling, “What’s next?”

It’s really that easy. A first date is a sniff test. Do I find the person attractive in real life? Are they open and interested in me too? Are they intelligent and optimistic? Do they have the time and energy to begin exploring a relationship?

Walking around the lake today, with a friend, he mentioned, “I’m meeting a lot of women who are not at all interested in a relationship. They seem to just be playing around. Or they are aloof and distant.”

What is it about our later stages that would keep us in a casual or uncommitted mode? Perhaps we’re not done processing the past relationship. Or maybe our kids are the priority, but it is a way that precludes any time for a relationship to be built.

There is no mystery about the time and effort it takes to build a relationship. If it’s casual sex you’re looking for, perhaps you can find it without much concern for the other person’s immediate mental state, but that’s a zero-sum game if you are hoping to find and nurture a new relationship.

I’ve often said, “I’m not into dating a woman unless there is long-term potential.” And I think what I am saying, is that without the features and opportunities for a lasting relationship, I’d rather not spend the time and effort to gain a new “friend.” It’s fine. It’s a bit type-a. I get that. I could have a lot more friends at the moment if I’d be willing to share my time with non-romanticly inclined women. But I’m not.

If there’s no kiss in the future, I’d rather move on to the next “potential.”

You see, even though we’ve been given back all this time, as divorced adults, we’ve also got a lot of work to do to recapture our essence. It is not enough to survive again, we long to thrive. And if LOVE is not the greatest opportunity to thrive, I don’t know what is.

I was lucky recently to get close. To find another person who said “yes.” And then the old witch “timing” kicked in and her life took off in a very unexpected and seemingly accidental direction. And that was that. All the earlier ingredients were present, the magic, the lust, the flirty anticipation… And then we were done.

I am happy for her, and we parted wishing each other the best of luck. But I was just about to feel what it was like when the other person, the other ATTRACTIVE person said “yes.”

I’m still ready.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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image: frozen dance, alice popkorn, creative commons usage

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