Whether or not the end of your last relationship was your choice, it can be daunting to start all over again. Paula Hall offers some practical advice to men and women seeking a new long-term relationship.
Enjoying the date
After the break-up of a long relationship, it can be almost frightening to be single again: you’ve relied for so long on another person to meet certain emotional, practical and financial needs. However, one of the most liberating things about being single is the empowerment it brings: you realise that you have skills and talents for coping with life that have remained dormant for years and can now resurface.
You are ready to look for a new relationship when your motivation is a desire to share your life with someone special – as opposed to feeling that you need someone to rescue you.
Look and feel attractive
The break-up of a relationship can be very damaging to our self-esteem, particularly when it comes to feeling attractive and sexy. What’s more, in the security and intimacy of a long-term relationship, looking after our appearance can become a low priority; we may get out of the habit of looking for clothes that really suit us, or of spending time on grooming, because we associate these habits with our younger and (maybe) vainer selves.
However, your appearance is very important when you’re in search of a new partner – and not just because looking your best is a way of getting attention! Both sexes are more attracted to people who take care over their appearance: by showing you care about how you look, you indicate that you want to be found attractive.
After the break-up of a relationship you might also find it difficult to contemplate having a physical relationship with someone new. These feelings are natural and usually go away with a bit of time and with the excitement and pleasure of meeting someone new and special.
Changes in dating etiquette
A worry people often have when returning to dating after a long break is that dating rules might have changed since they were last single. To some extent, this is true because of online dating. A few years ago, most people very rarely went on blind dates or met up with somebody new every week! But this is only a difference of procedure. Yes, online dating allows people to get into contact with people they wouldn’t otherwise meet, but after the initial contact, the skills required to form an attachment are the same as they’ve always been.
The biological clock
Whether it’s your own or your potential partner’s, don’t become obsessed with it. The media sometimes overplay the difficulties of getting pregnant later on in life, with the result that some people let the fear of infertility guide their decisions about relationships. But nobody likes to think of themselves as just the means to produce a baby. For a successful relationship, it’s the way your partner makes you feel that matters – not whether he or she is able and willing to produce offspring as soon as possible.
You might well have to adapt to the fact that your circumstances, or your partner’s, are more complicated than when you were last single. One of the obvious ‘complications’ is children. Some readjustment might well be necessary, particularly since many people still feel that the yardstick for domestic arrangements is the standard, nuclear family. Nevertheless, it is important – particularly in the early stages of dating – not to regard children as part of a ‘package deal’. When you’re dating, it’s your relationship with the other person that matters most. You might also want to play down your dating as far as your children are concerned. It could be better to wait until a relationship develops beyond a date or two before you involve them.
Maintaining a relationship
People who have long-term relationships are good at relationships. Whatever the reason for the breakdown of your last relationship was, the chances are that some of the years you spent together were happy ones. This means you already have the skills required to make a relationship work. You already know about compromise and communication and putting your partner’s needs first. Now you just need to find someone who’s really right for you! Hopefully, PARSHIP will help you do just that.