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After I was blindsided by divorce, I vowed to make 2014 my year of dating dangerously. This doesn’t mean I put myself in harm’s way—not physically, at least. Instead, I made a promise to myself to tackle any and all adventures that came my way, go on dates I would’ve never considered before, and take time to really explore my thoughts on dating, sex, and relationships.
Our initial response after a break-up is to find a better life with a better partner. We search for ways to fill the wound left behind, and we assume the best way to do that is to couple-up with our true soul mate. What we ultimately realize—or what I realized, anyway—is that no one can fulfill your needs unless you know what your needs are.
I stepped outside of my comfort zone. You should, too.
It’s Saturday night and you’re settled in for a solo night of Netflix and chocolate. Your best friend calls and invites you to a party where you don’t know anyone except for her. Your instincts say to hide your head under the seat cushion. But why not say yes instead? You can’t live a life of adventure from your couch. And what do you have to lose?
We all want those immediate sparks. We all have an idea of “our type” or our “ideal partner.” But why not look outside of those confines? Don’t overlook the lean man sitting next to you because you’ve convinced yourself that you only want the brawny type. Don’t say no to a first date with a reserved introvert just because you only date the gregarious man. When you date outside of your personal norm, you learn more about yourself than you realize—and sometimes those sparks start flying when you least expect it.
When we’re in a relationship, we tend to mesh our own likes and dislikes with the person we’re with. This is especially true for women, who are encouraged to be people-pleasers. Don’t be afraid to “date yourself.” Find out what you want. What are your thoughts on sex? What are your thoughts on love and relationships? What ideals are important to you? When we’re so busy searching for a mate, we forget to search for ourselves.
To get what you want, you need to know what you want—and then you need to speak up. Whether it’s in the bedroom or any other room of the house, don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Say what you want. Say what you don’t want. Don’t bury your own needs because you think they’re inconvenient because sooner or later, you won’t be able to find them anymore.
Join new social groups. If your co-workers ask if you want to hang out after work, say yes. Join a book club, wine club, or beer club. Meet new people. You don’t have to neglect your tried-and-true group. But why not branch out? New people become new adventures.
Kelly Green is based in Austin, Texas. She is the author of Back in the Game: My Year of Dating Dangerously.
Photo Credit: Kelvin Quarles http://sumo.ly/htMj via @pic_noi