The idea of “getting back out there” after a significant relationship ends is daunting.
For many, starting over from scratch is so frightening, it may be the last thing they want to do, despite the fact that they may have a goal of finding a life partner. Anxiety, depression and self-doubt are just a few of the harsh feelings that easily arise when considering dating again.
For others, “getting back out there” may mean throwing themselves at online dating sites or the bar scene, just to fill the void their ex-partner used to satisfy. This behavior can also lead to unwanted feelings of depression because going on multiple dates all at once can be just a Band-Aid in wanting to cover up the wounds from a break-up. Either way, adjustments can be made to ready oneself for his/her next relationship in a healthy way.
First and foremost, take time to grieve your past relationship. Rushing back to dating after a short period can only lengthen your healing process. Talking to friends and family about what was most hurtful about your breakup is a start, but truly reflecting and moving past the relationship is more easily managed if you’re proactive about your healing. Hire a relationship coach or therapist for a brief time to net out and understand why the relationship ended, how it made you feel and know what changes need to be made in seeking a mate in the future (including dating people from “a different pool,” working on your communication skills and understanding your “non-negotiables” in a future partner). There’s no specific amount of time that effectively allows people to feel ready to date again; it’s what approach you take to move on that will determine how long this will take.
Though this is hard for many, try not to jump into another relationship directly after ending your last one. If you feel ready to date, then by all means, do it. But be mindful and be sure that this person isn’t just filling space, but is rather enhancing your life and is truly a step in the right direction.
Also take time for yourself. Breakups are extremely stressful for most people, regardless of who ended the relationship. Surround yourself with things and people you love and who support you. Don’t frequent the coffee shops and neighborhood places that might remind you of your ex — try new places and meet new people. The faster you can embrace your new single self, the easier moving on will be.
After you are in a good space following the steps above, make a plan about how you see yourself dating again. Online dating is a great way to get your feet wet (again) — there are so many different people online and one can easily arrange dates soon after booting up a profile. But be sure not to make the same mistakes you may have made before.
Avoid red flags that trigger thoughts of your ex and be open to meeting lots of different types of people. For those more selective and with less free time on their hands, hire a dating coach or matchmaker and work with this person on establishing realistic dating goals and who might be the best match for you. There are dating experts all over the D.C. area — find the best one that suits your personality and lifestyle, be proactive and get out there.
Once you’ve decided you’re ready to date and your plan (e.g. online dating, matchmaker, friend set ups, new social group, etc.) is in place, there are a few key things to remember. First, be open minded. You and your ex broke up, so whereas you may want similar qualities in your future partner, don’t look endlessly for this person’s twin. Be open to different geographic locations, different ages and different backgrounds. The person you dated previously didn’t work for you, so be open to something different.
Also, don’t be hard on yourself. Analyzing why you didn’t get a call back isn’t going to get you anywhere. Dating is a numbers game, so be thoughtful of whom you decide to meet, but don’t harp on those who didn’t see you as a good fit (or vice versa). Be confident and take things slowly.
Whereas you want to evaluate the people you are meeting in the new chapter of your dating life, don’t over analyze. Working with a coach or matchmaker can help you see both sides and is likely going to be a more efficient way of meeting quality people well suited to your lifestyle.
Also remember the cardinal rule of dating — don’t discuss your ex on dates with other people. Bringing him or her into the conversation sends the message that you’re not over it and are lugging around unhealthy baggage. If you get serious with someone, those conversations will happen in time. Avoid the urge to bring them up early on in a new relationship.