So you’ve finally worked up the courage to leave that toxic relationship, or maybe the person you wanted to be with forever didn’t feel the same, and now you’ve got to start from scratch.
Or maybe it was a clean break – more likely, it wasn’t – but whatever the juicy details, one thing is plain and painfully true: you’re single again.
It’s easy to want to dive right back into the dating pool, especially after a serious relationship where you and your partner were accustomed to having each other around. Everybody says it’s important to take some time for yourself, but how can you, when you’re missing an entire half of what you used to be?
Let’s find out if you should be dating right after a breakup.
Don’t Rush Into Dating Straight After A Breakup
Now, I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. We all process our pain in ways unique to ourselves and our circumstances. It’s important to recognize, though, that what you’re doing is processing pain – probably quite a lot of it, if we’re being honest.
They don’t call it a “breakup” for no reason. When we regularly spend time with the people we love, when we incorporate them into our routines and into our beds, we blend and become part of each other. The longer we spend together, the more our lives become entwined around one another.
When the decision is made to call an end to that time of togetherness, we must literally break apart in order to continue on our separate ways.
Sometimes the pain of breaking is so great that we cannot help but to numb it with non-solutions. I’ve certainly been guilty of trying to fill a freshly carved heart void with casual flings, but the time comes of course when we realize that these things will not help us get back into the world of dating.
Casual Dates Don’t Fix Old Hurts
The trouble is, we can’t put ourselves back together using other people either. It can often feel like starting a new relationship will negate the experience of a piece of ourselves being absent, but this is not the case. What’s usually forming in a rebound relationship is a trauma bond.
You may have heard the saying, “If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.” This is especially true in the case of a broken heart. You can’t fix a broken heart by gluing it to another broken heart – and trust me, if someone wants to date you when your wounds haven’t closed, it’s basically a guarantee that they’re still bleeding too.
What is it that you want from a new relationship? If it’s to stop feeling bad about the end of the last one, consider that all unhealthy relationships are destined to end, and starting into another is only going to land you right back in the same pit of despair.
Breakups Are Good, Actually
Hear me out.
We’re dating because we want to be in an intimate relationship with a trusted companion.
But we don’t want it to end up like last time, do we? We’re looking for the ideal, the healthiest, most triumphant, non-heinous relationship possible, so that it doesn’t return us to grief.
Our last relationship ended because it was not such, and one or more of those involved did not believe that it could become such. Tragic as it may be, tragic as endings always are, it was an end to a thing that was not built to last.
So, rejoice! Hoo-Ray and Hallelujah! Let’s give it up for the bitter end of what wasn’t meant to be! Now we can make room for what IS meant to be, for the people we actually want and need in our lives.
To accomplish this, we’re going to rebuild our sense of self and learn to enjoy being alone.
“Getting Over” Your Ex: Avoid Going Back
“Cause when a heart breaks, no it don’t break even…” (Anybody a fan of The Script?)
Closing up a wound of the heart is no easy task, even if the relationship didn’t last very long.
We need time to sort through what is left to us after breaking, to re-establish a sense of self that doesn’t hinge on the presence of a once-significant other.
One thing that we must not do is attempt to return to the person we used to be before the relationship started. That person has been dead for a long time, and any attempt to revive them is just going to waste the time that we need to be spending on healing.
“Getting over” somebody does not mean forgetting about them, nor does it mean getting rid of any trace of them in your life.
Remember when I said that relationships involve a blending and a mutual becoming? When that split happens, it’s almost always impossible to disentangle from each other without leaving pieces of ourselves behind.
Sometimes, perhaps often, there are parts of your partner that become parts of you long before you separate, and those things don’t go away just because the person who sourced them is gone.
Maybe it’s slang or a particular way of tweaking your face. Maybe it’s a habit you picked up or a song you never thought you’d like as much as you somehow still do. We are constantly teaching each other and learning from each other, and not only is it impossible, but it is also foolish to try to unlearn all of the lessons that our previous lovers gave us.
How do I know if my breakup is final?
Some of us even have children leftover from past relationships. This is an especially poignant example of a deed that cannot be undone. How can you sever all connections to your ex without removing your own child from your life?
The point here is that no matter how deeply we affect each other, there will always be pieces that we leave behind and pieces that are left to us. The task at hand is not to eliminate the presence or the memory of our exes, but to come to terms with them, to purge what pieces may not fit, and integrate the ones that do. By doing this, we can learn better what it is that we are looking for in a mate and how to avoid the things that hurt us.
The person that you are now, that you have become as a result of being with and then separating from your ex, is brand new, and it’s time you got to know them!
Dating After A Long Term Relationship
Well, that was easy! We realized that everything happens for a reason and that we’re actually glad to no longer be dating our ex. (If we haven’t, then we’re definitely not ready to move on, eh?) Now it’s time to get back out there and find The One!
Not so fast. There’s no reason not to consider your options, but if you’re going to get yourself a prime new partner, you’ve got to be one yourself.
Be The Person You Want To Date In The World
I’m sure the last thing you want to hear as a person who is suffering the aftermath of a breakup is that you need to Date Yourself. But I’d invite you to take that possibility seriously, if only for a moment.
You want to go out with someone whose company you enjoy, right? You want to have fun with them, to make them happy, and to be made happy. But how can you expect this of another person if you are not prepared to offer it?
I’m not saying you’re not a catch. But I am saying that if you’re going to be a catch, you’ve got to first consider yourself worthy of being caught.
Do you love yourself? Do you like spending time with yourself? Do you know your ins and outs, and are you curious to find out more? In short – would YOU date YOU?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, I’d encourage you to take yourself on a date or two. You just might find that you’re intelligent, charming, and worth another night on the town.
You also might find that you’ve got some more work to do before you’d want to take yourself out again, in which case, you’ve now got an opportunity to do that work, and you’ve saved yourself the embarrassment of having someone else tell it to you.
How Soon Is Too Soon To Start Dating After A Breakup?
You’re really feeling free from the chains of your past. The memory of your ex no longer slices open anew your tender heart, and you’re excited about the prospect of meeting someone new.
You are confident that you’re a person with whom it would be a wonderful idea to spend your time.
The most important thing at this stage is not to rush yourself into anything. Of course, it’s exhilarating to think about being together with someone again – even after we’ve moved through the pain, there’s still a noticeable absence in our bed, and wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to sing along with to our favorite songs?
But we must remember that good things take time, and we definitely don’t want it if it isn’t going to be good.
We may feel that it is well beyond time to get started. But our hearts are more fragile than we think, and after enduring the trauma of disengaging from union, it can take longer than we expect for our hearts to be ready to be open again.
Being intimate with someone requires a willingness to be vulnerable, and the last thing you want to do with a recovering heart is force it too soon into a vulnerable space for which it is not prepared.
Final Verdict: Don’t Give Up On Dating
Your first venture back into dating after your breakup may not be a success. Maybe your eleventh isn’t either. Don’t forget that this is a good thing.
You’ve spent all this time making sure that your next relationship is one that lasts, is healthy, and creates space for mutual growth. If you’re dating and not finding a partner, that just means you’re dodging a bunch of other improper options. All that hard work paid off!
Yeah, you’re still single. But you don’t need someone else around to enjoy your own company. However long it takes, the time that you spend by yourself is only making you happier, stronger, and a better partner.
And when you do find a person worth investing your time in, and they feel the same way about you, it’ll be worth every second of waiting.