My now ex girlfriend broke up with me a few weeks ago after a 7 year relationship. I haven’t ever dated properly in my life, and I’m a social person, so I think I would enjoy it. I’m considering trying out online dating, but I’m by no means over this relationship. I love meeting new people, and I wouldn’t mind if it led to something somehow. The possibilities excite me, but there’s no chance I would enter a real relationship for quite a while. I don’t know what I can handle, but I want to try – I just don’t want to hurt anyone in the process. Would it be unfair of me to date under these circumstances? I feel like I have to do SOMETHING to be able to move on, but I don’t want to do it at the expense of someone else’s feelings. What if she really likes me, and I turn out to be “impossible to get” (in a proper relationship right now)? I kind of want to know what’s out there, you know?
Have you ever heard the saying “All’s fair in love and war”? It’s the first thing I thought of when I read your question. There really isn’t a “fair” when it comes to dating. There are things you shouldn’t do, there are things that happen that people don’t deserve, but there is no fair in dating. Don’t worry about things being unfair, let’s have you worry about doing the right thing.
Here’s where you are in your life right now. You just got out of a 7 year relationship in the last few weeks. Outside of that long relationship, you haven’t actually “dated”. Let’s assume you were a teen when the relationship started and now you’re something like 23-25 years old. You’re experienced in many ways, but navigating casual dating at your age can be difficult because you missed the rise of online dating and hookup apps in the last 5 years. Admittedly, you’re a bit clueless when it comes to the dating scene but you at least know where you stand, that you don’t want to rush into a relationship. That’s an awesome place to start so don’t think that it’s unfair to date with your situation as you describe it. You can date, even if you’re still rebounding, the only thing that would be “unfair” is if you dated without letting the people you date make an informed decision.
I’ve mentioned this before, but there are very few times when I would absolutely 100% without a doubt recommend that someone not date, and this isn’t one of them. What I would recommend is that you take some time to really consider how you’re going to discuss what you’re looking for. Not everyone is looking for a serious commitment, so you don’t have to be worried there. What you should give some thought to is learning how to say “I’m not interested in anything serious” so that it DOES NOT sound like “I’m not interested in anything serious WITH YOU“. You’d think that just leaving that part out would cover you but no, it definitely wont. Be honest about what you’re looking for, and look in ways and places where you’re bound to find out and you’ll do fine.
“But, but, but, I dunno where to find people looking for something casual” you might be saying. Well as is always the case, you can ask friends to set you up, but you need to tell them you’re not looking for anything serious. The friends of friends thing is more likely to net you someone looking to settle down, so you’ll probably have much better luck using an online dating site or app like Tinder or OkCupid. On Tinder, just use it as you would normally, and tell the people you click with that you’re just looking to date and not anything more than that. I’d recommend either telling them before the date, but that can come across as too much too soon, so try to get it out as early as possible. If you use OkCupid, or any other dating site, you can list your “What I’m Looking For” as short-term, or casual, or whatever. Basically, don’t list “Long-term” or anything that sounds long-term-ish and you’ll be fine. A good rule of thumb is to let someone know what you’re looking for as early as possible, and the latest possible time to do that is prior to sex. Why prior to sex? Well, most people don’t separate sex from affection/liking/love etc. so when they want to have sex you with it means SOMETHING, well, something besides them being hot and bothered. It’s not always the case, but it’s usually the case. If you tell them after sex, you’re kind of a dick.
With all that said, remember that dating isn’t fair, so it’s entirely possible that after all this you still wont be able to find people who want exactly what you want without a lot of searching. Just be honest, be yourself, and hope you meet someone who can handle what you’re looking for. They’re out there, but they might be a bit harder to find.
Good Luck Out There.