Being alone with someone of the opposite gender can feel weird or awkward after coming home from a mission. Keep these tips in mind to avoid being the stereotypical “recently returned awkward missionary.”

Redefine Cool
Just because you’re home now doesn’t mean you should go back to the cool kid you were before you left. While you’re not still a missionary, you can still use the positive traits you acquired on your mission, such as patience, diligence and the ability to relate to others.

Apply mission lessons
Planning, asking for references, street contacts and companionship inventories surprisingly all have their place in dating. Plan dates in advance, ask your friends and other people around you for set-ups, talk to strangers in class or on the bus, and have open and honest communication once you find someone you think you could enjoy dating more seriously.

“Treat it like the mission,” said Bryant Black from Gilbert, Arizona. “Use Preach My Gospel because seriously, it teaches you everything. You have your objective, to invite others to come unto you to partake of your goodness. You have to talk to everybody and ask for references, contact in the street if you have to. That’s literally how I started when I got home.”

Talk about something else
While your mom might be eager to hear hours and hours of mission stories, your date might not be so keen. While a few well-placed accounts could serve to show them how dedicated, spiritual and sensitive you are, asking them to tell you about their lives is more likely to make them feel important and valued.

Let go
As much as it hurt to get that Dear John/Dear Jane on the mission, it can be just as painful, if not more, to see that person happily dating or married to someone else.
“It was horrible,” said Sarah Armstrong, from Denver, Colorado. “Just thinking ‘that could have been me.” However, it’s important to remember that there is always a reason things don’t work out, and to find a way to get past it.

“I just kept reminding myself that it was for the best,” Armstrong said. “I made sure to go on lots of dates and have fun and just not focus too much on it. The longer I’ve been home, the more convinced I’ve become that it wouldn’t have worked between us anyways.”

Put yourself out there
Fresh off the mission, it can be difficult to reintegrate yourself into the young single adult life. However, as strange as it might feel, just go for it.
“I told myself, I’ve just gotta go for it,” said Black. “Don’t be awkward, don’t be that awkward returned missionary. You’re back, you’re allowed to date. Be yourself, just do you.”

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