I’m a woman with wonderful, deep friendships with many interesting people. I have one or two friends with occasional benefits, where it’s just as easy to say, “Want to have sex? Great!” as it is to say, “Want to go swimming? Great!” Unfortunately, I’ve consistently had unhealthy romantic relationships with men. I’m straight, and I’ve dated both straight and bisexual men, and a few years ago I stopped dating completely because of the toxic choices I made with romantic relationships. I’ve really worked on myself since then, especially on developing my self-esteem and steering away from self-destructive choices. My friends have all been extremely supportive of this break. Now that the pandemic isolation is starting to lift, I feel mentally and emotionally ready (but anxious) at the prospect of dating again. I’m not yet really settled in my community, and work is a long commute away (or will be, once we eventually go back to the office), so it seems difficult to imagine meeting anyone there. I’m in a conservative branch of my career. How do I meet men in order to cultivate a healthy, long-term romantic relationship? Are dating apps out? Do I reach out to my friends for suggestions? Where do I begin?
—Ready but Nervous