The emotional pain of a breakup can be deep and powerful, especially if the breakup involved a betrayal or an especially painful end. Because of this, the best way to handle a breakup and move forward is different for everyone. For some, jumping back into another romantic relationship is a way for them to cope. For others, dating right away isn’t the best idea. The time between a breakup and dating again is the perfect time to focus on yourself, reflect on what went wrong, and set yourself up for better relationships in the future.
To prepare yourself to start dating after a breakup, here are eight steps to follow that will set you up for more successful relationships in the future:
Step 1: Recognize your emotions.
After a breakup, your emotions can become a life-altering mess. But you can’t move forward and start dating again without processing them. Take time to work through the shock, sadness, anger, or even hate (yes, it’s ok to admit that you feel hate) with your family, friends, or even a therapist.
“In order to heal from betrayal and keep it from happening in the future, you have to keep your emotions in check. If you obsess, you become stuck in the past. But if you can think logically and understand the need to move forward, you can master your emotions,” says clinical psychologist and relationship expert, Dr. Carmen Harra.
Step 2: Reflect on what happened.
Taking time to examine your role in choosing incorrect partners and identifying what went wrong can help you prepare for a future healthy relationship, says David Essel, author of Positive Thinking Will Never Change Your Life But This Book Will. Sometimes, you may not be able to identify exactly what it is that caused a relationship to end, or why it is you’re attracted to the people you are. However, taking the time to think about it and explore your confusions can be a step forward in itself.
“This is also a healthy time to rid your mind of negative thoughts like believing men are all dogs or women are all self-centered,” adds Essel.
Step 3: Get comfortable with yourself again.
Nobody is going to fulfill your need to have a better half if you don’t fulfill yourself, first.
“Being single affords the opportunity to get comfortable with yourself, and when you’re happy on your own, that eventual special person who enters your life will simply be the icing on the cake,” says Essel.
Step 4: Envision a future free of betrayal.
Visualization is one of the key elements in getting what you want. Don’t be afraid to dream about your perfect date or the person you want to be with. This will also help you better identify people who aren’t who or what you want when you see them, or from letting other betrayers back into your life.
“What you fear most, you most attract, and if you quiet your fears, you can control what you draw in,” says Harra.
Step 5: Take a leap of faith.
You may be reluctant, or even scared, to get back into another relationship again, but taking a chance on love is crucial if you want to move on. Putting your hopes in others again will show you that there are goodhearted people out there.
“You might find it hard to trust anyone,” says Harra, “but slowly and surely you’ll redevelop a sense of confidence in the good will of others. All you have to do is be willing to do so.”
Step 6: Forgive yourself.
Unresolved guilt can cause anger and resentment in ourselves and toward others. In the end, this leads to more failed relationships.
“The first person you may look to blame in your failed relationship is yourself, but you should really be the first person you trust. Remember that you deserve to be treated with respect,” says Harra.
Step 7: Reinvent your dating-self.
By now, you’ve had enough time to reflect and have a better idea of what you want and what you deserve in a relationship. Whether it’s in an online dating profile or meeting people in real life, don’t be afraid to write or verbalize what it is you’re looking for. Mix up the way you meet people and do things differently than you did before. For example, if you met your last three exes at bars or clubs, this time have friends set you up or look for potential dates at the gym, church, or class.
Step 8: Choose your dates wisely.
Don’t put up with people who you don’t feel comfortable around, rush you into anything, or you simply aren’t into. You’ve already dealt with one breakup; you don’t need to worry about another. If you feel a new date is not trustworthy or just not doing it for you, get rid of them.
“Be selective about the people you bring into your life for your own well-being. Choosing to cling to people who don’t inspire faith will only lead you to distrust everyone as a whole. Walk away from those you know are not right for you,” says Harra.
Dating after a breakup isn’t easy. In many ways, you feel unsure and you may even still be hurting. People talk about moving on from a relationship, like it’s something you can let go of and leave in the past, when often our past moves with us. Getting over someone doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt or that you forget what happened, it means you face the pain and learn from it. You move forward and move towards something better.