If you are going through a breakup or have been in a dating funk, you have probably heard the most redundant piece of advice shoved into your head: Put yourself out there!
Wait a minute, Nina. What’s wrong with that? It sounds like pretty solid advice.
Not so fast, my friends. We have some exploring to do.
I have been told this phrase on more than one occasion and have yet to discover what the act of “putting yourself out there” actually means. If I go out and make myself physically available for single men (or Matt Damon), that doesn’t always mean I am ready to face my emotions. So how do you know a) if you’re ready and b) if you’re even doing it right?
As far as being ready — no therapist, friend, mother, relationship blogger (hey!), or horoscope can fully determine that for you. I will say, whatever it is you’re doing, your gut will tell you if it’s genuine. If you join an online dating site, but aren’t ready to meet strangers (who actually is?), then deactivate that sucker and go back to working on your book or career. It will feel right again. However, if you decide to continue searching, do not string anyone along — yourself included! Don’t let someone believe you’re open to a relationship if you have a strong feeling that you won’t follow through with the natural dating process. It’s only enabling your flakiness, which is no bueno. Listen to that gut of yours. It figured out Froyo was better than ice cream; it can determine when your libido is ready for a new hairy chest.
So once you decide you want to put yourself out there, you have to actually go OUT on dates. No hiding behind a computer or Instagram for weeks. We, as attention-craving fiends, need to maintain human interaction. Otherwise, we’ll be birthing generations of society anxiety (and trust me, as a “hip” new parent, you won’t want to deal with that). Some of the best dates I have been on I wanted to cancel beforehand (including one that turned into a serious relationship), but I made myself go. THAT’S what I believe properly supports the “putting yourself out there” notion. Not just lining up a bunch of meaningless dates to say you’ve done it, but knowingly placing comfort off to the side to experience a new moment. It’s conquering the social challenge of being yourself in front of someone you’ve never met. That doesn’t sound so bad, right?!
A new experience, as exhilarating as it sounds, is also scary as shit. I know it just as much as you do. So when you put yourself out there, you are accepting the inevitable awkward moments and the vulnerability that lives in them. Getting comfortable with those feelings takes longer to get used to, but once it happens, you’ll be naturally exposing your true form and feeling fantastic about it. Dating is a real-life comic strip (do millennials even know what those are?). When you start to laugh at human habits and interactions, you may discover you’re more at ease with getting out there than you thought.
Whether or not my ideas mesh with the “true” intent behind this phrase, I still want you to pay attention to what your body and healing soul need. So by all means, put yourself out there, but make sure the “you” in that sentence realizes what it’s exposing. If it’s a bunch of indecision and regret with a side of bitterness, then continue rebuilding. Get yourself back to (insert name) normalcy. After all, “out there” is a vast concept. You’ll want to make sure that ass is toned for the adventure.