Breaking up after any relationship — whether you’ve been together for months or years — is never easy. You may be experiencing a flurry of emotions from anger, guilt, confusion and disappointment. Before diving back into the dating scene, make sure you give yourself enough time to heal from your loss and redefine yourself as an individual.
Give yourself time to heal
Allow time to vent your frustration with friends and family and process any negative or resentful feelings you may have. Remember that relationships end for a variety of reasons; it may not be your fault. Grieving is a very natural process, but understand that the pain you may be experiencing will pass with time. Don’t let feelings of loneliness or revenge cause you to rush into a “quick-fix” relationship. During this time, try to reflect (not dwell) on your past relationship and what you can learn from it.
Take some time for self-assessment
View your breakup as a time to enjoy single life for a while and re-discover your individuality. Make plans, stay busy and get out and do things that you enjoy. Make a list of all the things that make you great. Don’t believe that you need to seek out a relationship right away to make yourself feel “whole.” This might lead you to fall into a relationship that is not healthy. If you can enjoy your own hobbies, feel confident in your personal strengths and accomplishments, and are truly happy with who you are as an individual, you might be ready to start dating again.
Get help if you need it
You may need a shoulder to lean on after your breakup. Don’t hesitate to ask friends or family members to help you talk through your emotions. You may consider taking a relationship education course that can give you great insights about what a healthy relationship looks like and how you can apply healthy relationship skills in a future relationship. If you find that you are having a very difficult time moving on, or that you are exhibiting signs of depression, seek out the help of a counselor or therapist.
Know the signs that you are ready to start dating
It is important that you free yourself from relationship baggage before jumping back into the dating scene. You may want to ask yourself the following questions to determine how much you might still be dwelling on the past relationship:
Can you speak of the relationship without feeling angry or bitter about the breakup? This kind of reaction may be a turn-off to potential new love interests and may indicate that you are still grieving.
If your ex wanted to rekindle the relationship how would you respond? If your impulse is to take him/her back, you might not be ready to open yourself up to someone new.
Do you find yourself continually talking about the relationship or your ex? If conversations you have with friends and family typically leads to a story involving your ex, the situation is still in the forefront of your mind and you may need more time to talk through the hurt that the breakup has caused.
Can you respond to memories of the relationship with a positive outlook? Reminiscing, accepting the relationship for what it was and learning from it is often a sign that you are moving on. If you get the feeling of knots in your stomach whenever you see your ex or look at a picture, you might need more time.
The key to dating again after a breakup is to go at your own pace. No one should be pressuring you into seeking out a new relationship. Take time for grieving, but then encourage yourself to let go of the hurtful breakup and move on. Once you feel you are ready, try dating for fun without it needing to result in a relationship right away. Remind yourself that good things still await you and you will find that special someone.
See more advice from the relationship experts at the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center at TwoOfUs.org.
Distributed by MCT Information Services