3 simple ways to open your heart to dating - Christian Connection dating advice

3 simple ways to open your heart to dating

Dating can feel daunting under the best of circumstances but it can feel even more challenging if we’ve been single for a long time. So how can you find the courage to open your heart to the possibility of a partnership after many months or years without one, or after never trying at all?

I know from experience that singleness can almost become part of our identity. Our family, friends and colleagues see us as single and we’ve grown used to being on our own. The idea of being in a relationship feels alien to us. Would we even cope with the changes a partnership would bring?

The reasons for our long-term singleness will be different. Maybe we’ve had bad experiences and have withdrawn from dating. Maybe we’ve never clicked with anyone. Maybe we’ve never felt confident enough or safe enough to try dating. Or perhaps we carry deep wounds and fears that stop us from looking for healthy love.

Whatever our reasons, we’ve closed our hearts and decided that love isn’t for us. But, deep down, the longing is still there. So how do we move forwards? These three steps may help.

Know your why

3 simple ways to open your heart to dating - Christian Connection dating adviceStepping into dating after a long absence requires energy, enthusiasm and courage. It might seem easier not to try, or to give dating one shot and then withdraw again if it doesn’t go our way. We’ll be more able to muster the inner resources to step out of our comfort zone if we’re convinced it’s worth it. What benefits lie at the end of our search for love? What rewards can we expect from opening our hearts again?

If we’ve had bad dating experiences or if our parents or caregivers had an unhealthy relationship, our template will be faulty. We’ll have an unfavourable opinion of commitment or marriage – staying single will seem more attractive.

But good romantic relationships bring many benefits so why not take some time to get clear on the advantages of being in a partnership?

First, we’ll need to throw away our old template or challenge our negative beliefs about commitment or marriage. We can ask God to help transform our mindset – to heal our hearts and fill us with hope.

Next, we’ll want to install a new template – build a picture of the positives of relationships. We can do this by noticing the healthy relationships around us or by chatting to friends who are in solid marriages. What are the pros and how do they outweigh the cons and the inevitable compromises?

Keep going with this process until you feel uplifted, optimistic and enthusiastic about looking for love.

Know your why nots

3 simple ways to open your heart to dating - Christian Connection dating adviceWhile we want to get clear on the reasons to move towards love, we also want to understand, on a deep level, the forces that pull us back – the voices that guide us away from dating or that lead us into unsatisfactory matches.

This process is a form of inner archaeology. We step inside and rummage around for the blocks, the barriers and the fears that stop us from seeking healthy love. We excavate the old to make way for the new.

Why do we feel unsafe in relationships and more comfortable on our own? Why does it feel so risky to open our heart? What early life experiences or later life experiences have fed our fears? We can explore these questions in prayer, through writing, with trusted friends or with professional support.

Understanding our fears helps us to spot them and face them, and if we can continue to be supported as we venture into dating, we’ll be able to check out our reactions with others. We can ask: Is this really a relationship red flag or is my fear of love making up reasons not to continue to date this person?

Shake things up

3 simple ways to open your heart to dating - Christian Connection dating adviceI’m a big believer in doing the inner work to raise our self-awareness and change our patterns. I’m also a huge fan of doing the outer work – of taking practical steps to shake up our old way of doing things. Perhaps we have become set in our ways. Maybe we take the same route to the office, eat the same lunch and take the same route home. Or we go to the same supermarket, buy the same groceries and do the same exercise class every week.

If we do have the courage to date and if we do meet someone with whom we want to pursue a relationship, one thing is guaranteed: change. We’ll need to make some compromises, make space in our schedule, try some new things, step out of our comfort zone. So, let’s start now. Let’s get our minds, hearts and bodies accustomed to new things.

This will look different for all of us – a new route to work, a different recipe, a new social gathering, exercise class or vacation destination. The key is that we’re breaking our usual patterns. Note that we’ll likely try to talk ourselves out of this new thing, so we can be aware of that and ready to talk ourselves back in. We don’t need to push hard or scare ourselves – it’s about gently challenging our habitual way of doing things and gradually building our courage muscle.

Try these three steps, combining the invaluable inner work with the practical outer work, and notice as your heart reawakens to the possibility of love.

Have you found it hard to open your heart to dating?

Have you found ‘3 simple ways to open your heart to dating’ helpful? Read more by Katherine Baldwin here

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