Several of my friends have told me that they have just given up on love. They read my blog posts, shake their heads, and then say, “And this is why I stopped dating.”

I totally get that.

I also have friends that tell me how hurt they were by the last relationship, and how hesitant they are at being hurt again, and say, “This is why I never started again.”

I can understand that too.

I can’t operate that way though. Each time I meet someone and it just doesn’t work out, I shake the dust off and try again. Every good date results in a new friend, every bad date turns in to blog fodder. Either way – I have to give myself permission to try again.

Sometimes trying means getting out of my comfort zone and just putting myself out there. Over and over again. It can feel like standing naked in front of a classroom – the stuff nightmares and panic attacks are made of, for sure. The reality is that either I keep trying or I lose out. Like they say, “you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.”

So I keep trying. I figure the bad, weird, or uncomfortable situations at least make me sure of what I do or do not want. I talk things out with friends, I put on a cute outfit when I would rather slum around in sweats, and I smile. I always try to smile.

And you know what? Sometimes it works. And then smiling isn’t so hard to do.

I don’t “have” to be in a relationship. I think maybe I used to. I know others who have made it clear that they just “can’t” be alone and have grabbed at the first willing victim who arrived. Been there, married that. Divorced that too – after 2 years and multiple court processes. So yeah, let’s not do that again.

This time around, I made myself some promises: No rushing in to anything. No apologies for past learning experiences. Lots of permission to explore. An understanding that being treated well is not a selfish thing. Honesty about what makes sense, and what just masks loneliness.

I’ve already gained a lot as a result. Being single has allowed me to renew old friendships and deepen others. I’ve tried new things and explored new places. I’ve gone out more and stayed home less. Some things I’ve lost – like rose colored glasses. But I’m not willing to be bitter about what I’ve learned. Everything – yes everything – that has happened has had an impact on who I am. I’m okay with that.

And if things don’t work out like I think they may, I’m giving myself permission try again.

You should too.