The three-part question posed in the title of this article is one I ask of each person who is about to embark on the search for love. In order to embrace the idea of new love and be able to follow through to find it, the answer to all three questions must be a resounding YES!
Allow me to define these terms for you so that you may ascertain your own answers.
Being Ready is the most important question for you to address. Without a sense of readiness, it will be difficult for you to encounter long-term success in the dating arena. Furthermore, when you’re not ready, you often look for love in all the wrong ways and places and will mostly likely pick an inappropriate mate.
Willingness is more than hoping and dreaming that your perfect life partner will come to your rescue and whisk you off to the land of happily-ever-after. Life is not a fairy tale, and you should be more concerned about finding your happily-right-now each day. Furthermore, it’s not up to a partner to rescue you. That’s your job! So, this sense of willingness implies that you’re in charge. Therefore, you’re going to do everything in your power to look for and take advantage of the opportunities in front of you.
Now, you can be both ready and willing and still not know enough about the nuts and bolts of dating to make your forays successful. That’s OK. You’ve already completed the hardest parts of this equation. Becoming enabled is the least emotionally demanding of the three states to reach.
You can learn how to date by reading books, talking to friends, attending seminars or consulting professionals. However, I find that the easiest way to become facile with this process is to practice date, which is dating without intention. During these practice sessions, you can discover how you’re viewed by others; hone your dating etiquette skills; figure out techniques that work; and quell your nervousness when conversing with the opposite sex. I suggest you treat this interval like a smorgasbord: Try a little bit of everything, even if you’re not quite sure you might like it.
Let’s take the first steps to becoming enabled with a short checklist to help you determine if you’re ready and willing.
I’M READY BECA– USE:
1. I have taken the necessary time to get in touch with my feelings and have figured out who I am and what I want.
2. I’ve taken the time to befriend, accept and gain insight into the “new single me” who was forged by past disappointments or the loss of prior relationships. be aware that after loss, you are transformed – and usually in a good way – even though it hurts to grow under these circumstances.
3. I’ve made the conscious decision to create a fabulous life and then invite a partner to share it with me. Therefore, I’m looking for a complement to my life versus looking for a partner to complete me.
4. I’ve readjusted the picture of my prior partners, which has allowed me to let go of both positive and negative attachments to them and the relationships.
I’M WILLING BECA– USE:
1. I am prepared to accept and believe in the possibility of finding happiness, and my success will be determined by the effort I exert.
2. I am prepared to take advantage of every opportunity to meet new people with whom I am presented. I believe that every individual I will meet has something to offer, even though he/ she may not be my match.
3. I am prepared to approach opportunities with a positive attitude, an open heart, a smile upon my face and without grandiose expecta- tions of each encounter. I regard dating as fun, not as a chore to be completed.
4. I am prepared to treat each meeting as a chance to expand my horizons; learn something about another person, as well as myself; and step out of my comfort zone to facilitate emotional growth.
The preceding statements, which are food for thought, can kick-start a change in attitude and perspective so that you can begin to date with success.
Question: If I don’t feel immediate chemistry with a date, I won’t pursue the relationship any further. Am I doing myself a disservice?
Answer: Yes, I believe you are. Sometimes things don’t gel right away, and many forego the opportunity to get know someone better. Here’s my question for you: Isn’t it true that once you get to know and like/love someone, you are attracted to the person’s beautiful “insides” more than his or her less than perfect “outsides”? I suggest using the two-to-three-date rule before deciding whether to dismiss a potential love connection. Due to nerves, some people encounter difficulty showing their true self on the first few dates. If, after three dates, you still don’t feel an attraction, then it’s appropriate to move on.
Ellen Gerst is a relationship and grief coach, author and workshop leader. Using a combination of her personal experience as a young widow and her professional expertise, she helps people look at challenging life circumstances from different perspectives to enable them to move gracefully toward a renewal of life and love. Visit Lngerst.com or follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/FindingLoveafterLoss. to ask Ellen a question to be answered in a future column, email her at Lngerst@Lngerst.com.