10 Questions To Assess Your Readiness To Start Dating Again
No one is ever 110% ready for a relationship. Let that marinate because I know it may sound strange, but really think about it. No one is ever really 110% ready for anything. You kind of just make a choice to move forward and take any feelings of fear or anxiety with you instead of allowing them to cripple you. Although no one is ever 110% ready for anything, I think it’s important to still have an idea of what to expect from ourselves to make sure we are walking into new relationships with healthy intentions.
In order to assist with this, I curated a list of questions to ask yourself to assess your “readiness” to date. If you find yourself getting stumped over any of these questions, don’t beat yourself up! No one is perfect and we all have things we can improve on. What is most important is that you have an open heart and an open mind as you read through these questions to explore what comes up for you with compassion and curiosity and whether you believe these questions are essential to you and your journey as you move toward dating and cultivating healthy relationships.
1.Am I really ready to date or am I just trying to escape the feeling of loneliness?
Everyone gets lonely sometimes. We have all experienced the feeling of loneliness but loneliness is not an invitation to form a connection with just anyone. Oftentimes the feeling of loneliness has a lot to do with our perception: we feel there is something missing, we feel empty, and we feel there is not enough.
Loneliness is not an indication to use someone as a bandaid to avoid our own discomfort with being with ourselves. It’s actually an invitation to turn within and retrieve the parts of ourselves that we may have lost in other people or have completely disowned within ourselves. Take a look at your current life. What’s no longer serving you? What needs to change in your environment? What needs to change within you?
When we are dating people out of a place of loneliness, we are attempting to get our needs met from a place of desperation. When you try to get your needs met through desperation, you end up becoming a vibrational match to the very thing you don't want
2.Have I identified my core values?
Your core values define the essence of who you are. In the article, “Why It's So Important for Couples to Talk About Their Values” by Kristin Fuller M.D., she states: “Core values in a relationship are the guiding beliefs that direct your words and actions. Knowing your core values will help you know when another individual's core values do not align with yours. If you are not aware of your core values, it will be difficult to find a partner with whom you are truly compatible.”
Often, we get into relationships without taking the time to truly understand our core values because society has conditioned us to disconnect from our values in order to maintain a connection with someone else. Look at examples such as the media and entertainment; it’s reinforced in subtle ways to disown yourself in order to receive love. Unfortunately, this can quickly become an issue for so many of us because when we are disconnected from our values, we are disconnected from our authenticity–which is not only a basic need but a driving force in our level of satisfaction in our relationships and with ourselves.
Identifying your core values will save you time and heartache. Moreover, identifying what is important to you in not only your relationships but in your life will help you define a strong sense of self so you can walk into new relationships without rejecting the essence of who you are to maintain connection. Healthy relationships do not require you to do that, it actually creates space for both. Your authenticity and the relationship.
3.Have I built my confidence in those values/needs?
This question ties into the last question. It is not enough for us to identify our values/needs, it's also important for us to understand that a lot of our needs and values are tied to what we did not receive as children. If you didn’t receive it as a child, how could you truly know what it looks and feels like in a relationship with someone else? It’s imperative that you build your confidence in getting those needs met by learning how to give them to yourself. When you work on loving yourself in this way, you become a living example of the qualities you would like to see in someone else.
If you want someone who is honest, when was the last time you were honest with yourself? If you want someone who is consistent, when was the last time you followed through on a promise you made to yourself? Once you start to identify your needs and your values, as well as build your confidence in really understanding what they mean by giving them to yourself, you will begin to believe that it is possible for you to receive them. You will believe that there is someone out there who can meet your needs because you’re a living example of everything you’re seeking.
When you pour into yourself in this way, you will be able to confidently recognize these characteristics in someone else without having to guess if they are the right fit for you or spending years and years in the relationship begging them to change. When you learn this, you automatically increase your level of discernment when choosing a partner.
4.Am I actively being the type of person I am looking for?
Oftentimes people are asking for things in relationships they have yet to cultivate within themselves. It is counterproductive for us to set the intention that we want a healthy relationship but our lives are a contradiction to the very thing we say we want. It is not enough to just set the intention that you want a healthy relationship, you have to live a life that flows in the direction of what you’re saying you want.
When you say you want a healthy relationship, shift your focus from what’s happening externally and focus on turning inwards. Start by looking at some of the other areas in your life. When was the last time you put your mind to something and followed through with it? Have you carved out some time to pour into yourself or are you constantly living in survival mode? Healthy relationships are all about creating a space for liberation and safety; survival mode is literally the opposite of that. Healthy relationships start with you.
They start with you preparing the soil and planting the seeds for a healthy relationship to grow. If the seeds you are planting are rooted in the soil of survival mode, you will continue to get the opposite of what you think you are planting. We cannot throw new soil on top of old soil and magically receive the harvest we are seeking. When you take the time to reevaluate every area of your life (your career, academics, friendships, parenting, time management, etc.), you will start to see the places that are not in alignment with what you’re saying you want.
These are the places that need your attention so what you are calling in can flow to you naturally. So, what needs to change within you to make a vibrational match to the very thing you are seeking?
5.Am I able to communicate my desires honestly?
It makes sense why many of us don’t communicate our desires in relationships. As humans, if we are wired for connection, if we communicate what we want and it isn’t in alignment with the other person, we may face rejection. Rejection is the opposite of what we are wired for. Although we all struggle with the fear of rejection, it’s more so about how we manage it.
Everyone is not going to accept us or meet our desires just because we want them to. We are not for everyone and everyone is not for us. This is not a “bad” thing, it’s actually a good thing because we protect ourselves from being connected to people who are simply not for us.
Being honest about your desires will create space for the RIGHT people to come into your life, who not only recognize your desires but find joy in meeting, honoring, and respecting them.
6.Have I identified past traumas/triggers that may have an impact on my dating experience?
Our childhood trauma can have a huge impact on how we show up in our relationships. When our trauma is left unresolved and unintegrated, it can show up in our reality in ways that harm our relationships. No one ever gets into a relationship “fully healed," but what’s most important is that you recognize your triggers and actively do the work to make healthier choices to respond to them. It could be helpful to work with a licensed professional in identifying what your specific triggers are in your relationships and learning how to manage them in a way that is cohesive to a healthy connection.
7.What are my core beliefs around relationships? Am I holding onto any limiting beliefs that may be keeping me from connecting authentically?
Limiting beliefs are negative core beliefs that have been ingrained in our subconscious from our past lived experiences (childhood, past relationships, etc.) Negative core beliefs such as “All men cheat” or “All women are gold diggers” are not conducive to a healthy relationship. When we are holding onto limiting beliefs around relationships, it does exactly what it says: it limits us.
When we carry negative core beliefs based on our experiences, we do not take the time to consider that our perception is very limited as human beings. The reality is, we are unable to experience all perspectives of life. Instead, we are only able to create one perspective, and that comes from our lived experiences. When we start to carry this black-and-white thinking (a defense mechanism to keep ourselves safe) into our dating experiences, we do not open ourselves up to getting to know people and seeing the complexities of what it means to be a human being.
Human beings are not “all good” or “all bad.” Everyone is a mix of both due to their own life circumstances, their own autonomy, and free will. In your dating experiences, it could be helpful to challenge any limiting beliefs you have that may be holding you back from connecting and experiencing true intimacy.
8.Am I willing to accept others for who they are without trying to change them or alter myself to be with them?
A relationship is when two or more individuals create an emotional bond through intimacy. Think about the phrase intimacy as "into-me-you-see." When you’re building a connection with someone, you are taking the time to see them clearly for who they are: their strengths, their weaknesses, their hopes, their dreams, and their insecurities. But when you’re dating and spend the entire relationship trying to get them to be someone they are not, you are not accepting them for who they are, which is the quickest way to get everything you don't want.
In order to build true intimacy, it is imperative that we understand that everyone has different needs and values, even people we find attractive. Instead of taking it personally, we have to understand that in healthy relationships, it is not our job to change our partners to manage our own discomfort around who they really are or alter ourselves to be loved by them. If you find yourself trying to alter them or yourself, it could be possible that maybe the relationship is not a right fit for you, and that is okay.
9.If I do not see a future with a potential partner, am I willing to be honest with them about the incompatibility?
When dating, sometimes we know that we are not compatible with someone off the bat, but we may have a difficult time being honest with them and telling them how we really feel because we may be afraid of hurting their feelings or facing some kind of resistance from them. What’s important to remember is that it is unloving to be dishonest with people we care about. When we are being dishonest about where we are, we are not giving ourselves or the other person a fair shot in finding what can be a true match for them, a better fit.
Trying to control someone's perception of you or avoiding their resistance to your boundaries can be manipulative, even if you aren’t doing it intentionally. It’s important that we take the time to be honest with ourselves and normalize being honest with others in our dating experiences.
10.If a potential partner does not see a future with me, am I willing to honor their feelings?
This question connects with the last one. If a potential partner does not see a future with you, are you able to honor their feelings and their free will? Do you write them off as a “bad person” or accept the incompatibility? Do you honor their boundaries or do you chase them and beg them to be with you?
These are all important to consider when dating because as much as we want people to respect our boundaries, we have to take the time to respect theirs as well. Oftentimes we have a difficult time respecting someone's boundaries because we view boundaries as rejection by internalizing it to mean something negative about ourselves.
When you learn to not take things personally and see them through the lens of just a difference in values, you have entered into a place of security within yourself, which may indicate that you are ready to date.
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Featured image by Marko Geber/Getty Images
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports