When you end a romantic relationship, you’re bound to experience some post-breakup emotions whether you were the one who ended it or not. Maybe you miss them, perhaps you cry, or down a pint of gelato in your fuzzy slippers on a Saturday night with your bestie. But, eventually, you’ll start thinking about a new relationship.
Perhaps you’ll consciously enter the dating pool. Using dating apps like Bumble or Tinder, or maybe you’ll accidentally bump into someone who turns your head while grabbing your morning coffee. No matter how you start dating after a breakup, you’re bound to hear opinions about how soon you’re moving on, the best way to date, and what you should or shouldn’t do with your new beau.
This blog is full of tips for dating after a breakup. We will discuss how soon you should enter the dating world, advise on everything from hookups to long-term relationships after heartbreak, and even a few tips for handling people who give you unsolicited opinions about your dating life.
How Soon Should You Date After a Breakup?
Whether you start online dating or accept a set-up from a friend, you’re bound to hear plenty of opinions from people who think it’s too soon after your last relationship to start dating again. If you hold off and spend some time nurturing yourself, people will wonder when you will get back out there. So, the best way to find out when you should start dating after a breakup is to look inward and do what you want regardless of the opinions of others.
When you start thinking about dating again, though, pay close attention to your intuition and what feels good to you. Here are a few ways to tell if you’re ready to start dating post-breakup.
Signs You’re Ready to Start Dating After a Breakup
- Your self-love game is strong. You’ve developed routines for taking care of your physical body, emotional needs, and sexual needs. You love yourself so much that anyone else’s attention is extra.
- You’ve spent time developing your interests, hobbies, and friendships. Each week, you spend time with people who refill your cup and energize you rather than deplete you. This will make it easier to identify potential partners who fit the same mold.
- You have personal and professional goals and a plan to reach them. It is easy to lose pieces of yourself when you’re in a relationship – especially when you’re in a relationship that isn’t working. Use your post-breakup time to renew those commitments to your health and success, so you won’t let a new relationship derail you.
- You know what you’re looking for (and what you’re not). This goes beyond red flags and your partner’s height. Knowing what you’re looking for means knowing what type of relationship fits your life right now. Maybe you want a long-term relationship with marriage potential, perhaps you’re looking for a future parenting partner, a quick rebound relationship, or maybe you just want a casual dating partner for dinners out and an occasional weekend away. There is no right or wrong way to start dating – you do you!
- You no longer feel boiling rage toward your ex-partner. Many people overlook this vital step post-breakup. Hatred is not the opposite of love – apathy is. So, if you’re still raging at your ex-partner for all the ways they hurt you, broke your trust, or didn’t meet your expectations, it’s a good sign you aren’t ready to let anyone new into your emotional world. Take some time to process, grieve, and move on.
Tips For Dating Post-Breakup
Ok, so you love yourself, your friends are amazing, and your professional life is soaring. You’ve got yourself on solid ground, and you’re only mildly annoyed when you think of your ex. You’re ready to start dating, right?
For some people, the thought of dating post-breakup is exciting. They love meeting new people, are excited to show they’re newly-found-authentic-selves to others, and cannot wait for that first post-breakup roll in the sheets. Other people aren’t so enthusiastic. Dating requires you to be vulnerable with strangers. You’ll talk about your past and dreams and maybe even let them see you naked. Yikes!
You want to date, but the thought of all that openness fills you with anxiety. Going on several first dates before finding anyone with new-partner potential seems daunting. You want to find ways to keep dating fun so you don’t run out of steam before finding someone worth your time and energy. Here are some tips to help you reenter the dating pool confidently while still ensuring you take care of yourself.
Keep a Positive Mindset
The dating scene is kind of like a trip to the beach. Sometimes it’s 80 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze over clear water, and other times it’s a shark-infested storm of nonsense. The trick is to enjoy the sunny days and avoid the sharks by paying attention to your intuition. Not every date will be a good fit for you, and you won’t be a fit for every date. This has nothing to do with your worth – it’s just the process of finding healthy relationships.
Avoid the Comparison Game
It can be tempting to compare any potential partner to your ex. You may find yourself hyper-alert to certain behaviors or accepting things you know you shouldn’t. Try to evaluate each date independently without comparing them to your ex.
Focus on More Than Just Dating
I know we already talked about taking time for yourself, your hobbies, friendships, and professional life, but this one is so important we’re mentioning it again. Even once you’ve set up positive, healthy habits after a breakup, it can be easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of dating and forget the things that helped piece you back together.
Think critically about your schedule and decide how much time you want to dedicate to dating in advance. Maybe you’ll limit checking dating apps to certain times of the day, turn off notifications, and schedule dates one or two nights a week. None of these decisions are permanent, and if you decide to let someone new into your life, you can readjust your priorities and schedule.
Don’t Shrink or Expand
When you start dating, it’s a good bet you want to meet someone you’re compatible with and create a relationship. You may be tempted to make yourself smaller by undercutting your achievements or life goals to make yourself fit what someone is looking for. You might also feel tempted to over-inflate your successes to impress someone. Neither of those will work out well long-term. It’s best to spend time learning who you are before dating so you can show up as your authentic self. You’ll know that the compatibility is real and worth exploring when you do that.
First Dates Should Be Brief
Dinner and a sunset walk on the beach is a fantastic date idea . . . for the third or fourth or tenth date. Your first dates should be brief – especially if you’re meeting someone from a dating app.
There are a few reasons for this. First, it will help protect your time. If you schedule a date with someone and it isn’t working out, it’s much easier to wrap up a coffee date than to wind down a three-course meal. Second, it will help you weed through incompatibilities faster. Having essential criteria for a first date – eye contact, maintaining personal space (consent is sexy), appropriate grooming, and not droning on about a previous relationship makes it easy to weed out people who either aren’t ready to date or just aren’t the right fit for you.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
It may have taken a while to find the partner you just broke up with. Establishing a relationship with someone requires compatibility, physical and intellectual attraction, similar life goals, and emotional maturity. That’s a lot to ask from any single person, so it may take a while to find someone with potential. Keep your expectations realistic to avoid emotional upheaval, hits to your self-esteem, and spending too much time on someone that isn’t a good fit.
Avoid Unhealthy Relationship Patterns
Making good choices while dating requires you to evaluate past relationships, find behavior patterns that aren’t serving you, and work to change them to develop the healthy intimate relationship you deserve. Many people struggle with putting others’ needs ahead of their own, setting appropriate boundaries, or communicating, which causes them to create unhealthy relationship dynamics.
Working with a relationship coach can help you identify these relationship patterns, figure out how they developed, and create new habits to lead you to healthier relationships. There’s no amount of time you need to wait before dating or any dating expert who can give you a fool-proof method for attracting the perfect mate. The trick to dating after a breakup is loving yourself. Then, all your future relationships add to your happiness.
Soribel Martinez, LCSW, is a therapist and sex coach with over 20 years of experience in the mental health field. She specializes in helping people build deeper connections with themselves and others. Reach out today to schedule your FREE intimacy Recovery Discovery Call to start healing and prepare for dating in your new life. Soribel will help you clarify your dating and relationship goals to build a life according to your needs.