Breakups are never easy.
They leave you feeling all types of emotions: one day you’re depressed and want to call him and beg him to get back together; the next day you’re elated that you’re no longer fighting with a guy who would rather stay home alone and play video games than go to your family’s Easter dinner (yeah-I’ve been lucky enough to have that experience).
I was engaged for a grand total of 4 months, in which I thought everything was fine. We were so in love that even a boring errand like a trip to the grocery store became an exciting adventure. I envisioned a big fairy-tale wedding and pored over bridal magazines with stars in my eyes. He told me he wanted to be with me forever.
I showed off my gorgeous 1-carat diamond solitaire to everyone I knew. My whole family said I was glowing with happiness and everyone wanted to know when the wedding was going to be. I spent hours on Pinterest looking up rustic bohemian-chic wedding stuff. I was wrapped up in my own little happy world of bridal bliss.
Sure, we fought like any other couple, about regular stuff: money, occasional jealousy, my dog peeing on the carpet. But I came to accept that no relationship is perfect and we always made up quickly. As a whole, our relationship was great (or so I thought).
Out of the blue, it all came crashing down.
Right as we were going to bed one night, he said the dreaded words: “Can we talk?” He sat me down at the kitchen table and said he didn’t love me anymore. He said he’d thought about it for a few days (days!) and wanted to end our relationship. He didn’t even give me a legitimate reason for wanting to end things.
The next day after work I went to his apartment where I was living and couldn’t even bring myself to pack up my stuff. I lay on the floor crying until my best friend and my brother got there to help me. My now ex-fiancé avoided seeing me; he’d made after-work plans with his boss and told me to text him when I’d finished packing.
That was the last time I ever heard from him.
So that night, I slept on my parents’ couch, all my clothes and belongings in bins that filled up my car and their garage. I felt like I’d never find anyone I loved as much as him. I didn’t know where I’d live. I couldn’t eat or sleep. All I wanted to do was stare at a wall and feel sorry for myself.
I was in shock; I would get overwhelming feelings of disbelief that this was happening to me and just break down in tears. At one point, I went with my friend to an appointment of hers for a few hours and as soon as we got in the car to leave I started crying uncontrollably. I’d been holding it in the whole time we were in public.
Then I decided to get on with my life.
I contacted a friend who was looking for a roommate in a trendy part of the city, went out with my girlfriends and joined a Bikram yoga studio. I stopped taking my antidepressants and anxiety medications I’d been on throughout our relationship (perhaps this was a sign it was never meant to be) and started focusing on the most important person in my life: myself.
The first weekend that I went out with my friends, I ran into a guy I’d had a little crush on for a while and we had a really nice time at a sushi restaurant and then walking around downtown and talking, just getting to know each other. It didn’t really go anywhere after that, but it helped me start dating again.
Then a guy I knew casually started suggesting dinners and movies and I accepted. One thing led to another and soon I was moving in with him. We’re still together and I’ve never been happier.
My breakup was difficult.
All breakups are. You might feel sad, angry, vengeful, and even happy at times. You’ll be hesitant to see someone new because you’re still hurting from whatever happened that ended your relationship.
One day though, you’ll see a hot guy (or girl) and think to yourself, maybe I’m ready to date again. You’ve spent a proper amount of time crying and maybe burning the last of your exe’s belongings that he left at your place. It’s time to move on.
Here are some tips to help you dive back into the dating pool, whether you were married for ten years or were just casually seeing someone for a few months.
1. Take your time.
Make sure you are really ready to date someone new.
Nothing’s more embarrassing than crying in a restaurant bathroom because the new guy holds his fork the same way as your ex or something and it brought back a ton of happy memories.
Feeling lonely or missing the affection of having a partner is not a good reason to start dating again. A breakup is the perfect opportunity to improve yourself and focus on your own needs instead of someone else.
Once you’ve had sufficient time to recover from the breakup and you’re happy with yourself, it might finally be time to think about seeing someone new.
It’s also important to make sure you’re not just rebounding. No one wants to go on a date with the hopes of starting a relationship, only to discover you’re just rebounding and not about to get serious. Make sure both you and the other person are on the same page as far as expectations and where you want the relationship to go.
2. Don’t date to make your ex jealous.
Vengeance will get you nowhere. If you’re not dating someone because he makes you so happy that you totally forget about your ex, it’s not worth it.
Of course, it’s always fun to upgrade- find someone with a cooler job, better taste in music, a nicer haircut, whatever.
3. Avoid contact with your ex.
I changed my ex’s name in my phone to “Satan.” Maybe that was slightly extreme, but it helped me remember what he did and how he made me feel.
Even when things started looking up and life was going great for me after our breakup – I’d gotten published and paid off my credit card (things that caused a lot of tension between us) – I wasn’t at all tempted to text or call him to tell him I was now an even better version of myself.
Unless you have children together or are otherwise obligated to have contact, it’s best to just move on and not drag your past into your present.
Just accept that what you had was either good or bad (or a little of both) and remember that everything happens for a reason. It may sound like a tired cliché, but it’s true. You can find someone who wants to be with you just as much as you want to be with them.
4. Be open-minded.
Don’t totally write off someone because they’re blond when you prefer brunettes, or they have a crazy obsession with horror movies when you prefer comedies. That guy could be your perfect match. Get to know him a bit and he could be the best thing that ever happened to you.
Sometimes first impressions aren’t always right. I met a guy once who seemed very mellow and level-headed, but it turns out he has anger issues and a habit of punching holes in the TV when he gets into arguments. Then again, sometimes it’s good to go with your gut feeling- if it doesn’t feel just a little bit right in the beginning, it’s probably not going to go anywhere.
5. Don’t overanalyze everything.
You spent enough time analyzing your past relationship and your breakup. Just relax and wait until you know him well enough to know his quirks and habits.
6. Don’t compare every new date to your ex.
Comparing men and relationships can help you figure out what you like or don’t like in a relationship and allows both you and your new partner to communicate and compromise.
Sometimes comparing can be a good thing. For example, if your ex was the messiest person you’ve ever known and it drove you absolutely batty, and your new beau is almost as messy, you need to seriously decide if you can deal with it.
On the other hand, if you compare every minuscule detail, you’ll drive yourself nuts. Just enjoy your date and have a good time. There may be a few (or a lot) of similarities between your date and your ex, but it’s up to you to decide what you can handle and what is a deal-breaker.
7. Make yourself a priority.
Calling, texting and flirting with a potential love interest is one of the most exciting parts of getting back into dating after a breakup. Dating is fun, and even if you’re ready for a new relationship it’s still important to make sure your main focus is on yourself.
Go out with your girlfriends, curl up with a good book and a bowl of popcorn, do whatever it is you need to do to make yourself feel good. Don’t forget to make yourself your number one priority- after all, you can’t break up with yourself.