Ashera is a Marriage and Family Therapist with an extensive background in sexual health education. You can ask her stuff anonymously and she won’t get weirded out. Seriously, try her. Send your queries through our anonymous contact form here.

Dear Smashera,

I’ve abstained from sex and dating for about a year now. I had to take myself out of game to spend time healing and growing from the whirlwind of experiences I endured last year. I am not perfect but I am a more balanced and happy person now. I would like some advice on entering the dating world again. How can I find partners that are mature and healthy for me? I’m not looking for marriage and I’m not looking for a casual, either.

Sincerely,

Enlightened and Alone

Dear Enlightened,

I’m glad that you took the time for yourself after a tumultuous time period.  Giving yourself that space is important, especially after a lot of emotional upset or trauma.  But now, after letting yourself heal, it sounds like it’s about time to get back out there.  I’ve written a bit about dating in a small city, but it sounds that you’re additionally looking for a different type of relationship than what you’ve experienced.  So, let’s start there.

If you’re looking for something “mature and healthy” at this point, it’s important to pinpoint what that looks like for you.  Conversely, what would you call unhealthy?  Abusive tendencies are always a deal breaker, love bombing included.  But other than the real basic “please treat me like a human being and don’t harm me,” what constitutes mature to you?  Do they need to be a certain age?  Own their own home and have a not terrible credit score?  Or are you speaking of emotional maturity, where they can own and process their feelings?

While it’s impractical to make a list of everything a partner needs to have in line prior to meeting you, it’s important to have some relative framework.  For example, saying, “I need a partner who looks like _____, is woke af, and owns their own house in an area with good schools,” is a bit psychotic, wanting someone with values that align with yours, holds down a job, and effectively communicates, is work-on-able.  Once you know what you’re going for, it’s easier to weed out partners that are not good for you.

You said you’re not into the casual hookups, but aren’t trying to get married like, next year.  That’s cool, but you may need to get comfortable with ambiguity in some form.  You may not know after date one if you want to be Facebook Official with that person and that’s okay.  It may take a while of hanging out to determine whether or not a person is going to vibe with you in the long run.  That being said, if some mamma jamma wants to ghost you or is acting like a total fuckboy/fuckgirl, then ditch them.

I guess, in the long run, when you meet someone, check to make sure you like who you are around them.  If you find yourself compromising your values or burying your feelings for them, then they are not worth it.  If you find yourself happy and growing around them, then it’s a sign things are going well.

Good luck out there.

Kisses,

Smashera