There are few things as daunting as diving back into the dating scene after a big breakup. You know the ones: dramatic, painful, and completely earth-shattering.
These breakups don’t just mark the end of a relationship, but the end of a version of who you were with that person. And so starting anew, and re-entering the complex world of modern dating, is an intimating prospect to say the least.
However, there are certain things you can do to ensure you’re emotionally armed and prepared to tackle the challenge.
Here, eHarmony’s relationship expert Rachael Lloyd offers her top five tips on how to get back into dating following 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 do and do not want next. “Are you after some fun and intimacy having limped out of a humdinger of a breakup?” says Lloyd. “Or having allowed yourself time to grieve, are you ready for a healthy, long-term relationship? Whichever it is, don’t be afraid to communicate this, either to your potential partner or on your online dating profile. This will empower you and weed out the timewasters and potential ghosts.”
Write an ideal partner list
Identifying exactly what kind of person you want will help you to make better choices when you start dating again. “The clearer your strategy, the stronger the journey,” says Lloyd. “Write an ideal partner list with everything included from their preferred personality traits and values to their education and job level. Then write a list of red flags, so you know what you’re avoiding. Use these lists to help you filter your matches and ensure you make the right choices.”
Don’t compare and despair
It’s only natural to want to compare your ex to any new potential partners. But this will only set you back and keep you fixated on them. It might also be worth thinking about how much your ex is still on your mind, because if they are still consuming your everyday thoughts, it could mean you’re not ready to date.
“You only want to consider dating when you’ve worked through much of the baggage left over from your breakup,” says Lloyd. “Otherwise, you will simply carry that baggage into the next relationship and end up in rebound hell. However, even if you’re feeling reasonably strong, it’s normal for there to be some residual feelings tied to your ex.”
When you do start dating, try to avoid comparing any new dates to your ex. “View them as a new possibility, and take the time to get to know them before making rash judgements.”
Keep things simple
Don’t be afraid to go at your own pace. Ease yourself into it, whether that’s by making your first date a quick coffee before work, or planning a brief lunch. “All you’re doing is establishing whether there is good rapport and chemistry,” says Lloyd.
“You don’t want to get caught up in high-maintenance meals with the wrong match and no escape plan. Once you’ve had an easy first date, you can make the second date more ambitious. This is all about minimising stress and increasing confidence as you re-navigate the dating world.”
It sounds basic, but ensuring you are taking care of yourself is crucial if you’re going to start dating again. “Big breakups can batter 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 well and getting plenty of rest.
“In addition, I advise my coaching clients to download a mediation app and practice ten minutes a day to boost serenity, write daily gratitude lists to increase optimism, and turn the volume up on all the things that bring them joy.”