Hanging out with someone you enjoy is fun, whether you call it dating or hanging out or being “with” him or her. It can also be really complicated. Sometimes dating is not the right thing to do. How can you figure it out, you ask? So glad you asked! Start by asking yourself these…
Am I hoping that this relationship will make me feel better about myself?
I’ve talked to lots of gals and guys who hope that the right person will make them feel better about themselves. Can you hear me say this, quietly and kindly? If you’re hoping that the next relationship will help you deal with your fear or insecurity or past abuse, dating right now is probably not the best thing for you. You need to know your own inner value. Relationships can’t completely fill up the holes in our own hearts. No human being is capable of meeting our own insatiable needs. Understand your value and true worth for yourself before you look for it in someone else.
As one author wrote, “Relationships aren’t inherently dangerous. It’s the expectations we bring to relationships that are dangerous.” When we expect more from another person than they are capable of providing, we’re setting ourselves up for hurt and disappointment.
Am I just getting out of a relationship?
We’ve all seen this. Many of us have done this: coming out of one relationship, especially if the relationship was painful, and jumping into another relationship with someone who seems to appreciate us. It’s connected to the first question, isn’t it? “Rebounding” is often about feeling better about ourselves.
The problem is that going straight from one relationship into another relationship doesn’t give us the time we need for healing and growth. Often, a relationship ending badly can be a signal that something is wrong. It’s important to take time to heal and redefine yourself before beginning another relationship.
Have I spent time getting to know myself?
As one relationship counselor puts it, “I would venture to say that the No. 1 determining factor of whether you are ready to date is how well you know yourself.” Knowing how you function and what you need is one of the most essential steps to having a healthy relationship with someone else. Part of this process involves defining your life goals—goals about what you hope to accomplish and about who you hope to become.
Do I believe the timing is right?
Your own gut often confirms whether or not the timing is right to begin a new relationship. This question is also closely connected to your life goals (which also connects to the last question!). Do you know where you’re headed? Do you know who you want to be? Is this potential new relationship going to help you accomplish those goals, or will it distract you from school or a new job? Are you concentrating on something else right now or healing from some serious hurts? Take some time to figure out if the timing is right.
Dating (or hanging out or whatever you call the process of spending time with someone you care about and are getting to know better) can be a fun way to get to know someone and figure out where your relationship will go. Dating the wrong person can be toxic. Dating someone at the wrong time can be unnecessarily difficult. Know who you are and where you’re at before jumping in!
Are there other questions to ask yourself before you start dating someone? Tell us in the comments what you’ve learned.