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I almost burned our house down that day. It all started when I was cleaning out my work desk downstairs. Little did I realize the mess that was about to unfold. Sometimes our dating lives can be like that, messy and nearly disastrous. So before you decide are you ready to date again, ask yourself the four questions below.
Many houses around here have a wood burning stove as a main source of heat in winter. It is so wonderful to sit around a warm wood stove with the fire crackling, enjoying a cup of coffee and time with your family.
One of the downsides to said wood stove is the ashes. You clean the stove of the ashes every other day, transfer them to a bucket and then dump the bucket once a week saving yourself constant trips outside.
I decided to throw some papers in the ash bucket that day instead of putting them in the trash (don’t ask me why). Forgetting about the papers a little while later, I dumped the ashes out of the wood stove into the bucket.
Smoke began to pour out of the bucket, which by the way was INSIDE my house. The hot coals mixed in the ashes set all those papers on fire very nicely, causing quite the roaring fire. I grabbed the bucket up, running around, still inside the house, yelling for the boys to come help me.
Ugh, what a mess! It’s hard being a city girl living in the country!
Sometimes things go terribly wrong. They didn’t go as you had imagined. It happens to all of us. But the key is figuring out what went wrong so that you can avoid some of the same mistakes in the future.
When it comes to that all important relationship in your life it is imperative that you review where you have been before you start dating again.
Here are some questions that I think are important to ask yourself to decide if you are ready to date again.
- What attracted you to the person or persons you dated or married previously?
Did you love how they seemed so in charge? Or how they listened to you? Did you appreciate that they wanted to spend every minute with you?
After thinking about that initial weeks of your last relationship, decide if that first attraction point led to positive or negative results? Would it be wise to continue basing your relationships on what you are initially drawn to or would it be smart to have some checks built in?
- Were there any warning signs that you saw early on foreshadowing a problem to come?
Did you ignore any gut reactions you had that something wasn’t right in previous relationships? Think about when you first saw the problem and what you told yourself at the time. Did you listen to your inner voice and take actions by discussing your concerns or ending the relationship? Or did you push forward, disregarding your own concerns?
If you were able to see problems and moved to address them, this shows that you trust yourself and value your own emotional health.
If for some reason you ignored that nagging voice and kept on in the relationship, how did the forseen concern progress? Did things clear themselves up, and you are glad you took a wait and see approach? Or do you wish you had spoken up way sooner?
Often we don’t speak up because we are fearful that we may risk the relationship somehow and what it represents to us (companionship, security, success, value).
Consider and identify what it was you were so afraid to lose before you begin dating again.
- What are you looking for in a dating relationship?
Be honest with yourself. If you desire to be married (or remarried) you need to approach your relationships with that in mind. It doesn’t mean you are proposing marriage on the first date. However, it will certainly help you make decisions on whether to even go out on the first date.
Write down what you are looking for in a relationship and some characteristics and values that the person must have. It may sound unromantic, but let me tell you it is truly magical when you see God bring you what you had only imagined on a piece of paper!
- What part did you play in the successes and failures in your last relationship?
We all like to believe that we have only the best of intentions and always play fair in our relationships. Unfortunately, we are human and therefore can tend to be focused on our own needs.
Did you sabotage your last relationship, in any way? Too often, people can become fearful about being hurt so they take a “get them before they get you” attitude. Did you try to control the other person or allow them to manipulate you?
What about your behavior was beneficial and productive? How did you encourage the other person to become a more authentic version of themselves? In what ways did you learn to compromise while still maintaining your own values and beliefs.
Again, if we want our next dating relationship to be better, we have to stop and critique our last one.
It isn’t always comfortable to admit we made mistakes. Or to think that we gave years to a relationship that we knew was going nowhere. But what would be even more tragic is to continue in the same unproductive and sometimes destructive pattern.
And in the meantime, take care of you! I love the author Michelle Mckinney Hammond. Her book, If Men are Like Buses, How Do I Catch One?: When You are Standing Between Hope and Happily After, will keep your spirits uplifted. I love her common sense writing, sprinkled with plenty of humor for singles. And come on…doesn’t that title just crack you up?!
You are so worth a wonderful relationship!! Believe that and it will give you the courage to stop and think of ways you can become better and stronger. Lessons learned, you will move forward with the expectation that you WILL find someone that shares your values and dreams. And you won’t settle for anything less!