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7 tips for networking back into the dating game

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Beth Cook is a dating coach and wing-woman who throws private dating events for San Francisco’s most awesome and unattached. She also writes and draws about her own dating experiences and would love to hear from you. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.

I recently wrote about how to survive a heart-wrenching breakup, as I've seen more relationships crumble this year than most. (Thanks for the bad news, Facebook.) Now let’s talk about how you get back into the dating game again—so you won't waste a minute when it's go-time.

First of all, how do you know when you're ready? Ask yourself the following questions: Can you hear a sad song on the radio without shedding a tear? Can you watch a romantic comedy without feeling sorry for yourself? Is reality TV losing its nightly appeal? Do you feel pings of excitement when thinking about meeting someone new? If you answered “yes” to all of the above, then you're ready!

Now, here's what to do:

1) Get cute.

Buy a new shirt, get a haircut, go for a run, start sporting red lipstick. There's no right or wrong here. Just do a few of the simple things that make you feel attractive.

2) Turn your inner taxi light on.

Adjust your attitude. You're no longer a hopeless person destined to fail at love. You're a catch! A desirable soul with tons to offer the world. Be available. Be open, receptive, and curious.

3) Be brutally honest with yourself.

What do you really want? A boyfriend, a husband, a wife? Think about it. And remember those lessons you learned from your previous relationship. Don’t repeat your mistakes.

4) Set up online dates.

The best way to practice dating is by going out with people who are completely outside your circle of friends; it’s less pressure. And the best way to find those people? Internet dating. Set aside your reservations or judgments about all those dating sites, pick one that feels comfortable, and dive into setting up that profile. You don’t have to find your soulmate now, contrary to eHarmony’s strangely hypnotic ads. Just get back into the swing of telling entertaining anecdotes about yourself. And ask damn good questions about your date.

5) Ask your friends and coworkers about their single friends.

Do this after you've gone on a few practice dates and are feeling back in the groove. Start by asking your couple friends. Couples want to couple up their single pals—they'll quickly introduce you to their other available singletons. Hell, they'll probably even host something just for you. But a word of warning: Don't let them breath a word to their potential matches. Obvious set-ups get awkward—fast.

6) Get tech savvy.

The social scene today is easier than ever to dive into (be it after new moves, or just long periods of hermit hibernation). There are bounties of of tech companies whose entire mission statements revolve around creating social experiences for young urbanites in search of friends (read: dates, and, probably, sex). This is actually a great way to meet new prospects without the pressure of an official date, and instead under the guise of a love for Indian food or French cinema. Try Grubwithus.com, Sōsh.com, or Grouper.com.

7) Laugh at yourself.

Practice makes perfect, right? Accept the fact that you're going to make a few mistakes along the way. You're going to get nervous and say the wrong thing to someone cute, you'll probably not give a fair chance to someone who's worth it, and you'll definitely spill something brightly colored on yourself while eating. Forgive yourself, brush it off, and try your darndest to do better next time.

Photo by Kevin Dooley