10 Tips to Navigate Dating After a Breakup
A breakup can feel like the end of the world. Gut-wrenching. Feel like your heart has been thrown out and stomped on the ground. Dating again after a heartbreak can be intimidating, overwhelming, stressful, and anxiety-provoking. It's normal to be filled with fears of rejection, disappointment, and nervousness. Or the idea of putting yourself out there might feel impossible.
I often find my clients saying, "I'm not ready to date again..dating just seems so awful these days…I can't imagine myself falling in love again...I don't know when to start…I hate the dating apps!"
Below are 10 tips to help you navigate through the sea of possibilities:
#1 Take time to let yourself heal
Breakups are hard. If you truly don't feel ready, don't push yourself to get back out there until you feel like it's the right time for you. Get to know and love yourself again. Heal your heart. Take some time to get to know your hobbies and interests again. Take yourself on dates. Go to a movie by yourself. Take yourself out to eat. Go to the new place in town you've always wanted to go to. Try something you haven't done before. Make plans to hang out with your friends more often. Learn to be okay with being single. It can feel uncomfortable if you come out of a long-term relationship. There is a lot of loss/grieving. Take the time to heal these painful parts of yourself. You'll generally know you're ready when you can go into dating with a positive outlook when you've worked to cope with and come to terms with your loss. When you feel more positively about yourself and when you feel steady to walk on your own. Get yourself into therapy! Therapy can be a great space to work on healing painful, invisible wounds within ourselves. Remember, life is not a "race" to the finish line of getting married, having kids, etc. Healing takes time and work. The work you put in now will help you no matter where you are at.
#2 Get to know your values
Values are things you believe are essential in the way you live and work. They help us determine priorities in our life. They allow you to measure if you are living a life that feels authentic. Such as family, friends, loyalty, kindness, compassion, spirituality, integrity, and respect. Sometimes when you are in a long-term relationship, your values get intertwined with your partners, leaving you feeling lost in life when you have a breakup. What is most meaningful to you in life? Take some time to find this out.
#3 Know your dating blind spots/pitfalls
When it comes to dating: where might you foresee yourself struggling? Below are a few examples of common pitfalls when it comes to dating.
- The Romanticizor: This person dreams of love like a fairy tale. When you feel you haven't met "the one" your "soul mate," Thinking: they will come to me at the right time. You dream of a fairy tale wedding, your one and only person, a dreamy partner with no issues. This blinds people to the reality of a potential non-compatibility problem. When all we see are fairytales, it often blinds us to the fact that someone might not be a good match.
- The Maximizer: This is the person who goes on many dates quickly. Kind of like factory dating. Like 100 in the span of 2 months. The person who likes to explore ALL their options before committing to someone. They feel they have to be confident that they found the right one and be "100% all in before making a commitment. They like to keep their options open. The problem with this is this person doesn't take the actual time to get to know people and evaluate potential.
- The Hesitator: You feel you're not 100% ready for dating because you're not yet the person you want to be. You hold yourself to a high standard. You want to feel completely prepared before you start dating again. You might make excuses as to why "now" isn't a good time.
#4 Imagine your ideal partner
Envision what your ideal partner looks like. What might be some things they enjoy?
Think deeper than the superficial (5'10, stable job). What is essential in their life? How do they treat people? Be clear on what you want. Sometimes so badly want someone to like us that we use their emotions towards us as a dictating factor instead of paying attention to what works for YOU. Don't be afraid to say "no thank you, It's been nice chatting. I wish you the best but I'm just not feeling it" Listen to your feelings of what feels good and what doesn't so that you don't keep around the wrong people in your life.
#5 Change your mindset around dating
Often dating can feel like job interviews for jobs you never get. If you're a serial dater:
- Take it slow.
- Slow down the pace.
- Commit to going on dates as you can/time allows. When you're rushing towards a finish line, it's easy to get discouraged and hopeless when you go on many first dates.
- Take it slow.
- See dating as an opportunity to try new things and just meet new people; whether it works out or not, you still learn about yourself and do fun new things!
#6 Be your authentic self
Don't be afraid to show up as yourself. Often we fear that the potential person we are sitting across won't like us. So we shy away from sharing things about ourselves. What happens when we hide parts of our true self is attracting the wrong people. Tune into what you desire and pay attention to how you feel around this person. Listen to your heart and quiet your fears.
#7 Set realistic expectations
Expecting to fall right into a relationship and the love of your life right away can prevent you from being mindful of the moment and enjoying your time being single. Building a relationship starts with building a friendship, which takes time. Work on focusing on your needs. Know you will probably go on many first dates and be more okay with things not needing to end in serious commitment. Be more okay with being alone. While it may be lonely and disheartening, take your time.
#8 Don't compare to your EX
Comparing a potential partner to your ex and how they acted only causes confusion. The battle between the head and the heart. If you find it hard to not compare, take more time to be with yourself and work on healing from your past. Comparing to your ex will blind you to the possibilities with a new person.
#9 Build yourself back up
Do things that make you feel confident. Spend time journaling and interacting with friends. Identify your strengths and positive qualities; what are the things you love about yourself? Be your own cheerleader. Encourage yourself to be proud of the steps you are making. Use kind words with yourself. And finally, be gentle with yourself. Dating after a breakup/loss is hard! Give yourself credit for being vulnerable and trying again!
#10 Go in with a positive mindset
It's hard to be open-minded after a loss. Try to be open to new experiences. You receive a more comprehensive view of what is meant for you when you can keep your heart and mind open to new possibilities. It can be easy to find the other person's faults or the "red" flags. Try to find the "green" flags. Try to identify 5 good things about the other person you go on a date with, even if it doesn't work out. It will help you step into a more open place.
Reach out to work with Lindsey to learn more about relationship readiness or healing from a breakup. Please schedule an appointment with her below.
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Lindsey Kingsley, MA, LPC
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