I broke up with my boyfriend. How do I start dating again?!?

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There are a lot of fish in the sea

Dear Dr. J,

I dated the same guy from age 15 to age 22. It’s over, and I’m ready to move on, but here’s the problem: The last time I had to date, I was a freshman in high school, and now I have to start from scratch as an adult, but HOW? Are there new rules? Where do the smart and funny nerd guys hang out once they graduate college? What do I say to them when I find them? Advice, please!

-How Does This Work Again?

Dear HDTWA,

Congratulations! You are about to have the FUNNEST time of your life: the time when you become a Duchess of Dating.

How? There are plenty of blogs (and even this one: in fact I’ll be reposting some Advice from the archives about flirting soon) that will give you practical advice—be confident (walk tall!), have a great smile (Crest White Strips!), go out to have fun not to meet people (laugh and the world laughs with you!), join a club where you’ll encounter like minded pals (club!)—so that’s not what I’m going to do.

Instead, I am going to share two simple philosophical concepts that will change your life. When you read them you may think, “ah how sad, Dr. J has gone loco in the coco and can no longer be trusted” (loco in the coco is a popular phrase in Adviceopolis meaning “out of her tiny mind”). When you actually begin to use them, you will see they are easy yet radical and super powerful.

Be Sincerely Single

Love being single, especially if you are a woman. Many people and most websites treat being single as some kind of weigh-station or last-month’s-magazine-strewn waiting room, a place you hang out while you’re waiting to be summoned to coupleness. I think that is Wrong with a side of Wrongchester Sauce.

Being a single female at this point in history is a unique and amazing privilege. The world is yours. You can do ANYTHING. If I believed in sinister social forces and tossed around words like “Patriarchy” in casual conversation [disclaimer: I do], I would say that the reason there is so much pressure to be in a couple is because single women are AWESOME and without a lot of social pressure telling them otherwise, no woman would give that up. Not to mention that whole industries (yes that means you, magazines and blogs that get readers by documenting which celebrities are breaking up/making up/making out) dedicated to charting relationships (as well as you, matcharmistrydotcom) which would be out of business if we weren’t focused on relationships all the time. But part of the reason for that focus is because so many go awry. Because people do them wrong. People rush into relationships looking for something that no one relationship—except possibly the relationship you have with yourself—can supply.

That is the crucial part: no one relationship. Loving being single does not mean you can’t have a life filled with romance and can’t date. To the contrary, it means you can date lots of people. It simply means you shouldn’t be dating as a way to stop being single.  Which brings us to:

Date Inclusively

A wise friend of mine, Dr. King, once described a date as “a perfect night someone plans and gift wraps for you like a present to make you both feel special,” which I think is a great definition. It highlights the most salient parts of dating: that people tend to treat both themselves and one another as better, more interesting companions when dating than when in an exclusive relationship (notice how much relationship advice goes something like “if things are stagnant, plan to go out on a “date” the way you did when you were getting to know each other! Rekindle those memories of what it was like when you first met!”). One of the best parts of being single is that you can date lots of different people, that is, get and give lots of “presents.”

Not only can you, you should. Using Science, the researchers at Advice Central Labs For Better Relationships have determined that the optimal number of people to date at once is between three and five. Any fewer and you get into a situation that limps inevitably toward conversations about how serious you want to be LONG before those conversations are warranted; any more and you won’t have time to do your work and see your friends. This is true for anyone at any age—whether you’re 13 or 300, loving being single means there is no reason to focus all your romance energy on one person. Different people are fun to do different things with: one person is great for movies, another for going to art galleries, another for going on daytrips to see the Worlds Largest Ball of [Noun]. This way you will have an optimal companion for whatever you want to do.

I’m not the only one who thinks this: researchers in other (obviously less prestigious) labs than the ones in Adviceopolis (like at places with “University” in their names) have studied the brain chemistry of individuals who are dating versus those in long term relationships, and shown that there’s a lot more of all the chemicals that make people happy, highly productive and focused in the dating brain than in the brains of people sauntering down the path of exclusive coupledom.

The only thing you must not do is play games: you must be frank with whomever you are seeing that you are not seeing them exclusively. (Which, oddly, you will discover that if you mean it when you say it, is the #1 way to get people to want to see you exclusively. Because humans are immensely strange creatures).

That’s it. That’s my life changing advice. You will encounter naysayers, people who clamor “its hard enough to meet one person to date let alone three to five!” but I assure you that is only true if they are single state haters.  If you truly embrace this two part strategy—love being single, and openly and happily date multiple people—you will have no trouble at all. The fizz of confidence and happiness you will exude will draw people to you like a supermagnet.

Try it! The only thing you have to lose is rushing into another disappointing relationship.

Airkisses,

Dr. J

Need Advice? Mail your questions for publication to advice@michelejaffe.com. The doctor can't promise to answer them all, but she'll do her best. (By sending a question you grant permission to have it appear here. Letters may be edited. Advice is for entertainment purposes only. No blaming us later okay? Okay.)

One Response to “I broke up with my boyfriend. How do I start dating again?!?”

  1. Verna September 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate
    your efforts and I am waiting for your further write upss thanks once again.

Leave a Reply to Verna