There are few things as daunting as diving back into the dating scene after a big breakup. You know what they are: dramatic, painful and completely momentous.
These breakups not only mark the end of a relationship, but the end of a version of who you were with that person. And so starting over and re-entering the complex world of modern dating is an intimate prospect, to say the least.
However, there are certain things you can do to ensure that you are emotionally armed and ready to meet the challenge.
Here, eHarmony relationship expert Rachael Lloyd offers her top five tips on how to get back into dating after a big breakup.
Set clear relationship goals
After a breakup, it’s important to reflect on what your previous relationship taught you about what you want and don’t want afterward. “Looking for some fun and intimacy after limping off a huge breakup?” Lloyd says. “Or having allowed yourself time to grieve, are you ready for a healthy long-term relationship? Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to communicate it, either to your potential partner or on your online dating profile. This will empower you and weed out time wasters and potential ghosts.”
Write a list of ideal partners
Identifying exactly what kind of person you want will help you make better decisions when you start dating again. “The clearer your strategy, the stronger the ride,” says Lloyd. “Write a list of ideal partners with everything from their personality traits and preferred values to their education and employment status. Then write a list of red flags so you know what you’re avoiding. Use these lists to help you filter your matches and make sure you make the right decisions.”
Don’t compare and despair
It’s natural to want to compare your ex to any potential new partner. But this will only slow you down and keep you locked on them. It might also be worth thinking about how much you still think about your ex, because if it’s still consuming your everyday thoughts, it could mean you’re not ready to date.
“You’ll only want to consider dating when you’ve gotten over a lot of the baggage left over from the breakup,” says Lloyd. “Otherwise you’ll just carry that baggage into the next relationship and end up in rebound hell. However, even if you feel reasonably strong, it’s normal for there to be some residual feelings attached to your ex.”
When you start dating, try to avoid comparing any new dates with your ex. “Look at them as a new possibility and take the time to get to know them before making snap judgments.”
keep things simple
Don’t be afraid to go at your own pace. Relax, whether it’s making your first date a quick coffee before work or planning a quick lunch. “All you’re doing is establishing if there’s a good rapport and chemistry,” says Lloyd.
“You don’t want to get stuck on high-maintenance foods with the wrong mix and no escape plan. Once you’ve had an easy first date, you can make the second date more ambitious. It’s about minimizing stress and building confidence as you navigate the dating world again.”
practice self love
It sounds basic, but making sure you take care of yourself is crucial if you’re going to start dating again. “Big breakups can damage our self-esteem and leave us vulnerable and scared,” says Lloyd.
“You owe it to yourself to heal gently. Self-love tools include leaning on good friends regularly, eating right, and getting enough rest.
“In addition, I advise my coaching clients to download a mediation app and practice ten minutes a day to increase serenity, write daily gratitude lists to increase optimism, and turn up the volume on all the things that bring them joy.”