Q&A Tuesday

Dear Kim…I’m back in the dating pool and I need a lifeguard!

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Dear Kim,

I have recently gotten back into the dating pool after being single for a while.  I have to say it’s very intimidating and I don’t know where to start.  I’ve been divorced for almost six months, and I think I’m ready to let someone back into my life.  I started an online profile, but I’m not thrilled with the results so far.

I’m back in the dating pool and I need a life guard!

Thanks for any advice you can give me.


Dear Lori,

Dating is a tough game, I won’t lie.  And with Google in the mix, it’s enough to make someone embrace the introverted lifestyle and forget about romance.  There are a lot of things to consider when getting back into the dating pool.  You may want to stick your toe in before dive-bombing into the deep end.  Here are a few pointers to get you started

1.       Love Thyself,  First and Foremost

“You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha

The first piece of advice I can give you is to love yourself before getting involved with another person.  Many people start dating too soon after a failed relationship, and this only leads to confusion and feelings of unworthiness.  This happens because we often have unresolved issues that stem from a previous relationship or even childhood.  Perhaps we felt unloved, unattractive, not good enough, etc.  So, we look to another person to validate us so we can feel whole again.  Only, it never happens.  Sure, maybe in the first few weeks of dating when everything is still nice and shiny, but if we have unresolved issues from a previous relationship, they will carry over into the new one. 

The worst thing you can do in a new relationship is come across as needy.  Whether you are male or female, neediness isn’t attractive and will be a sure exit for your new date.  Or, you set yourself up as a target for an emotional predator who will use your weakness to their benefit.

So, how do you know if you’re ready?  If you find yourself constantly thinking about problems from an old relationship and how they made you feel, you’re not ready.  Perhaps this is unconscious, and plays out in the form of persistent feelings of sadness or hurt feelings…you’re not ready.  Do yourself a favor and work on loving yourself so you can begin a new relationship that will be good for both you and your future partner.  

2.       Be Authentic

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

There are so many checklists out there for women and men on “How to Attract the Lover of Your Dreams”, “How to Be Sexy to Everyone”, and “Make Them Yours in One Date”.  It just makes me cringe.  Yes, there are some good pointers out there but, you must be your authentic self.

What does it mean to be authentic?  First, it assumes you’ve dealt with any personal issues you have regarding self-worth.  That’s not to say you need to be perfect, because none of us are.  But time and again I’ve seen that confidence is the most attractive feature someone can have.  Confidence means you are comfortable in your own skin…you don’t need to memorize a checklist before going out on a date.

Have you ever been out and seen an attractive man or woman with a partner that wasn’t quite the same caliber in the looks department?  (Honestly, we shouldn’t judge someone by their looks, but as humans, we tend to compare and contrast by nature).  I bring this up because there’s a 99% chance that the person who might not win a beauty pageant is likely a lot of fun to be around.  When someone is comfortable with being themselves, their partner doesn’t have to constantly worry about reassuring them…thus allowing the couple to truly enjoy life.

So, how do you know if you’re being authentic?  There are several ways, but a good indicator is…if a new date decides you’re not the one, will you be crushed or will you chalk it up as a good sign from the Universe and move on?  Being comfortable with yourself despite a perceived rejection is a sure sign you are confident and not afraid to be your authentic self.

3.       Don’t Make it About Sex

There are a lot of people out there who are dating simply for the sake of sex.  To each their own.  I can’t speak to that subject because I am not into casual sex.  Based on your question, and the fact you were married, I am led to believe you are into monogamous relationships, too.

You mentioned you created an online profile.  There are a lot of great people out there on match-making sites.  However, you should also realize about half of those members are looking for casual sex.  Some of them are married or have a significant other.  Once in a while, people make this clear up front….some don’t.  Know what you are getting yourself into.  That’s not to say online dating is much different from meeting someone in person.  These are things to look out for in any potential partner.

Aside from the gray areas I mentioned above, it’s important to know what you are looking for in a date.  As humans, we sometimes get lonely, especially after a breakup from a committed relationship.  If you find yourself on a date with someone who wants sex, are you going to go along with it, and if so, at what cost?  This is something you need to find the answer to beforehand so that if you find yourself in that situation, you will be better prepared for possible consequences.  Possible scenarios include:

i)        You give in, and find yourself wanting to continue the relationship, but your date isn’t interested.  Your self-esteem takes a nose dive.

ii)       You give in, and find you don’t want to continue the relationship, but your date does.  You feel icky and guilty, and just want to turn back the clock.

iii)     You give in, and later find your date is married and won’t have anything to do with you.  More guilt…more regret.

iv)     You give in, and find yourself with an STD.  Need I say more?

v)      You give in, and find you have a sociopathic stalker on your hands.

vi)     You don’t give in, and you never hear from your date again.

Those are just a few things to ponder when getting intimate with a virtual stranger.  Are you ready for that kind of drama?  Personally, I would recommend getting to know someone first, creating a friendship, and taking your time while being open and honest.

Here’s another possible scenario:  You don’t give in, and your date sees you as long-term material.

Remember, only do what you’re comfortable with…and please don’t do anything you will regret later for the sake of pleasing another person or because you think you will secure yourself a partner.

I hope these suggestions help you!

Do you have a burning question about your stage of recovery after narcissistic abuse?  Submit them to [email protected] and your question will be entered into our database and possibly included in a future publication.

© Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach, 2013

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Mia Amoure says October 30, 2013

This is great to talk about because there is nothing more scary, difficult and confusing for single,divorced or widowed women in this day and age. I love how you break it down to a way that we can take a hard look at ourselves and where we need to be to balance ourselves with a relationship, not use it to be ok with ourselves. I have experienced first hand what it is like to use my partner to give me self esteem. They never made me feel secure enough, good enough or worthy enough. I don’t think it matters who the person is, someone else can’t possibly substitute our own love of self. We then get disappointed, they treat us poorly because we teach them how to, and it ends the way we unconsciously set it up to in the beginning.

    Kim Raya says October 30, 2013

    I’m glad you found this helpful, Mia. I think most of us have probably used a new relationship to fill in the gaps in the self-esteem department at some point. Only most of the time, the results are short-lived. Especially for people like you and me, who’ve been in an abusive relationship.

    As humans, we will always hurt others, although most of the time it’s unintentional. You’ll know you’ve found one of the good ones when you can be yourself without the need for censorship. Of course, this is something that should balance out over the long-term. If one’s partner seems open and supportive in the beginning, but then does a complete 180, it’s a red flag. That’s why taking time in any relationship is always the best choice. There comes a point when the other person’s true colors will show through, either in the form of a supportive partner, or someone who lied in the beginning because they are an emotional predator…


      Mia Amoure says October 30, 2013

      On the subject of emotional predators: Sometimes it’s hard for me to read this stuff because you are always right on the money! It is hard to look at and hard to except without making excuses. I don’t know how smart, witty and in all other areas, strong women, can keep going back to a harmful partner. It has nothing to do with intelligence or weakness, contrary to populate belief. I have know lawyers and executives that have been unable to escape controlling men. The victim blaming that goes on in these situations is unbelievable. People think you have no brain in your head if you stay with someone who puts you down or physically hurts you. Or if you are with someone who has to keep you in a box, isolate and manipulate you, people think that you want it to happen. I don’t know why they don’t focus on the person who is the active abuser or ask them the hard questions. I think the best defense against this happening, is like you said, making sure that we have a strong sense of self and rock hard self esteem before we head into any relationship, otherwise, it guarantees a difficult outcome and more pain.

Randy Walker says August 21, 2013

Spot on, Kim! I’ve learned most of the things you delineated here through the “school of hard knocks,” which is very painful and stressful. However, if we want to be loved, we must first love ourselves, “warts and all.”

Oh…and good luck, Lori!

    Kim Raya says August 21, 2013

    Thanks, Randy.. from a fellow alumni of the “School of Hard Knocks” 🙂

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