Whether you've been married for two years or 20, getting back into the dating scene takes practice. Just like training for a running race or getting back into shape after time off from the gym, you won't be prepared overnight. You'll want to ease into things and strengthen your muscles to avoid any "dating injury."
Divorce is a transition that takes a lot of energy. Many post-divorce women feel drained, shamed and "too old for this game." Transitioning into the dating game takes a lot of energy as well. There is a certain amount of rebuilding that needs to take place before you're ready to meet someone new: rebuilding in your mind, in your attitude and in your emotions.
More from YourTango: For A Better Marriage, Learn How To Really 'See' Your Spouse
As a life coach, I coach women on transitions. Whether you're in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50s, you no doubt have a strong inner critic ready to rise to the occasion and stop you from feeling fabulous, valuable, and attractive again. To transition into a new, loving relationship, or to simply enjoy the process of dating, the first step is to lose the negative self-talk — get shame out in the open, and deal with it. To get yourself back in the game and get your "glow on," you need to prepare.
Here's A 5-Step Guide To Bulk Up Your Dating Muscles:
1. Make COURAGE a top value.
In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown says: "Shame hangs out in the parking lot of the arena; waiting for us to come out defeated and determined to never take risks. It laughs and says, 'I told you this was a mistake. I knew you weren't... enough.' Shame resilience is the ability to say, 'This hurts. This is disappointing, maybe even devastating. But success and recognition and approval are not the values that drive me. My value is courage and I was just courageous. You can move on, shame.'"
Face it: divorce takes courage. So call yourself courageous already by taking this initial step. Dating takes courage as well. Accept that you will eventually find yourself physically and emotionally attracted to someone new, and it may bring up old shame issues. Talk about them, share with friends, or reach out to professionals. And every time you move from shame to courage, celebrate!
2. Start SMALL and take baby steps.
A person training for a marathon does not go out and run five miles on day one. There are very detailed training guides for running anything from a 5k to a full 26.2, and they all have the same starting point: walk first.
If you are trying to lose weight, nobody advises you to stop eating. For true long-term results, you need to start slowly eliminating bad eating habits, incorporating new, healthy ones, and making your weight-loss goals reasonable.
Building dating muscles is no different. Give yourself time and take it slowly. Start with small steps, like just getting out more and going out with friends. Getting comfortable in your own skin and liking yourself is the first step towards a positive self-image. Steadily practicing being a single person will make you a strong, "date-ready" person.
3. Create an attitude of ENTHUSIASM and CURIOSITY.
When you feel ready to start dating again, it's important to have a state of mind that supports you. Eventually, it will be just YOU and your DATE, so YOU want to be ready, confident and excited about that one-on-one conversation. Think about interactions with people that make you feel good. How do those people act? Act like them! People want to be around positive people.
Be curious about others. Be eager to learn new things and try new activities. Try a new adventure, like joining a hiking club, taking a co-ed exercise class, or signing up for a group activity. Ask your friends for ideas. There are many places where men and women get together to have fun in healthy ways. You'll not only feel more enthusiasm and excitement just by trying something new, you'll also be building up muscles that will enhance your dating experiences.
4. Take care of YOU!
Going through a divorce might cause you to lose some of your powerful emotional muscles. These also need to be rebuilt slowly and steadily. Make sure you practice consistent self-care: Reiki, yoga, massages, healthy eating and good sleep habits, and spending time with people who empower and care for you are just some of the many ways you can take care of yourself. Listen to your inner voice and put yourself first. A happy you is an attractive you.
5. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
When learning any new physical skill, like weight-lifting, the only way you build long-term muscle without injury is by repetition. You start with light weights and move on to heavier ones when you are ready. "Muscle memory" happens through practice and consistency. The same is true for sports, like tennis and golf. You can't develop a perfect swing without a lot of practice. You can't write a symphony until you first master the keyboard.
Remember that you may be used to being with just one person. Give yourself some practice time being with someone new. Start interacting with potential partners slowly by starting conversations, making eye contact, and flirting. You will become more comfortable with this new skill. Everyone enjoys doing things they are good at, so become good at interacting with people in different ways. Then when someone is physically or emotionally attractive to you, you will be ready to act on it. Be courageous!
Remember, there IS life after divorce, there ARE still good people out there, and you WILL find love again. Believe in yourself. You are stronger than you think.
Find more inspiring articles on my blog.
Balance Expert, Certified Life-Coach
and the founder of Balanced Moments
More from YourTango: My Favorite 5 Inspiring Love Quotes Of 2013
More Dating After Divorce Advice from YourTango: