The Right Time

Power Quadrant System

How to Leave Everything Behind and Start Over in a New Life

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The best time to begin dating is when your life is really in gear, your friends think you're swell, you're relatively content with the way you look, work is going well, you're even on speaking terms with your parents, and you can think of exes without raising your blood pressure. Hey, you're ready. If you're so all-fired happy, why go through the hassle of dating, you ask. Good question, I respond. Because, let's face it: The right person can make a good day great and a great day simply fabulous, and there is something about that chemistry thing.

Following are some scenarios that may motivate you — happy, well-adjusted person that you are — to jump into the dating arena:

i Your friends are involved. Often the trigger to get you going is that all your friends are involved, and they seem really happy. Equally important, they also don't have a whole lot of time for you these days, or at least not as much free time as you find yourself with — good motivating factor.

i You're feeling great. Feeling much better about your life than you have for a long, long time — cheerfully assuming you're stone cold sober and not high when you notice the feeling — is also a great time to begin. Remember, it's always easiest to borrow money when you seem to not really need it, and the same is true with relationships. You're your coolest self when you're happy and relaxed. If you could bottle it, you'd be rich. You don't have to bottle it, but you may want to spread it around.

i You're in a new city. You've made new friends, you're not on house arrest, there are new restaurants to experience, new parks in which to picnic, new museums to explore. Don't substitute a search for dates before friends, but once the friends are in place, it's quite kosher to mention that you're new in town and looking — talk about your clean slate. Moving to a new city is a really good time to get in the swing. You'll learn the city faster and have someone to share it with, someone who knows the sites taking you around. Be sure to leave some time for you to be by yourself. Although having someone along is great, time alone to explore your new surroundings is important, too. When you're alone, you get to concentrate on the parts of the city that really interest you.

i It's New Year's Day. Although a New Year's Eve party is a really treacherous first date experience, New Year's Day itself can be a good reminder that time is marching on, and if you want someone marching with you in your parade, it's a good time to push yourself a bit. (A New Year's Day introduction also can make a great opening line: "I decided meeting you was going to be the first terrific thing I did for myself this year.")

i A big event is coming up. A big deal event coming up in your life — a wedding, a party, an anniversary — can be a useful motivation to offset your lethargy or fear and inertia when it comes to dating. It can be a good opening gambit. If you feel compelled to take a date to the big event, do be a bit careful about making the big event the very first date. It's quite possible to have a couple of date-ettes to break the ice before the big event. If possible, give yourself enough time to have a couple of dates or even a couple of months before the event.

The girl, the guy, and the dining hall

I was president of my freshman literary society (sorta like a sorority, only less prestigious), so I had to go to the formal. I was shy enough that I undoubtedly never would have asked anyone if it hadn't been a must-do event. I ended up asking the guy who washed dishes in the college dining hall. He had sense enough to ask me to a movie and take me for a walk the week before the big date so we weren't complete strangers. We had a ball, and I ended up marrying him. Moral of the story: no guts, no glory; if you need an excuse to pony up your courage to ask someone out, it's okay to go for it.

Uncovering motivation

The night before a big party, I found myself wallpapering my bathroom with a friend. Things were getting a bit testy, and he said, "Your friends won't care whether or not the bathroom wallpaper is new."

I said, "You don't understand. I'm not wallpapering because of the party. I'm having the party so that I'll get the wallpapering done."

In other words, you can use a big-deal social event to motivate yourself to get out there — to date or wallpaper or whatever.

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