After having your heart broken it may be hard to imagine how to get back into dating. Having your heart broken is a painful wound. It seems like every song, every interaction, everything you do brings back a memory of your heartbreak.
No matter how hard you try, it feels like there are reminders of the good times you had together everywhere. You wish that you could stop thinking about that person but no matter what, thoughts of them and your relationship punctuate every waking thought.
You’re heartbroken because no matter what there was a connection and love. No matter what the cause of the breakup, you’re still left with feelings of loss. No one falls in love because they don’t want it to work out. We go into it desiring a positive outcome.
Understanding Heartbreak and How to Get Back into Dating
Heartbreak comes about because we become habituated to significant people in our lives. We become used to sharing lives, experiences, living spaces, rituals. In essence, being a couple means that you occupy large parts of each other’s lives. It can be the small stuff that can cause heartbreak too, the loss of those little things that bind a relationship. Things like making a meal together or shopping together, a text or a call.
This loss of shared familiarity is often the most heartbreaking. We are by nature, social beings. It makes sense that we’ll feel the loss of companionship, the presence of another significant person.
Acknowledging this loss of shared companionship, the void it makes and often the lonely space it leaves, will allow you to normalize your feelings of heartbreak. Heartbreak does literally feel like your heart has been ripped out, it can be that painful.
The way forward is clichéd but it’s quite literally, to go through it. Doing all sorts of things to avoid the pain, like denying your sadness, avoiding your feelings, will mean that you avoid the grieving process, which is in itself a means of healing.
Some practical steps to focus on getting through heartbreak:
Allow yourself to experience all your feelings
We inevitably try to distract ourselves from heartache by avoiding our feelings, while this is tempting, the chances are high that if you don’t acknowledge your feelings, they catch up with you. Sometimes in the most unexpected of ways, for example when you are in a new relationship and discover that you haven’t addressed feelings from your past.
Whatever it is that you’re feeling, allow yourself to experience the full spectrum of your feelings, don’t pretend your feelings don’t exist. It is helpful to speak to a therapist if you are concerned that your feelings will overwhelm you.
Limit or cut off contact with your ex so that you’re able to heal
Staying in touch with your ex makes it very difficult to heal and move on. You may have fantasies of getting back together or that behavioral patterns will change. You need time, space and perspective to see the relationship in context and to give your heart a chance to heal. Staying in touch makes this very difficult. It also makes it difficult for you to form new relationships.
Don’t compare yourself to others
It’s a misconception to think that other people are coping better, or that their pain is less intense. We are all unique and we all have different ways of responding to pain and loss. Focus on working through your heartbreak, without judging yourself harshly in comparison to others.
Reach out to your support network
Whether it’s friends, family, or a therapist, being able to talk about what you are going through, can make a huge difference. We have all experienced heartbreak in some shape or form and knowing that you are not alone, helps with overcoming heartbreak.
Do not isolate yourself, remember no one is an island.
Take time out before starting a new relationship
You need to establish who you are, outside of your previous relationship. Dating too soon, means that you will be bringing history to a potential new relationship, which could sabotage it. You may also make comparisons or badmouth your ex, which does not bode well for a new relationship.
Time and space will help you to decide what type of relationship and the type of person you would like to meet, without the fog of your previous relationship interfering.
Focus on self-care
This is the best time to indulge yourself. You can take up new hobbies, interests, start a new sport or join new groups. You don’t have to check in with anyone as to what types of interests attract you. This can be very liberating, lead to a journey of self-discovery and open unlimited potential to meet someone new.
Ultimately, be kind to yourself, the reason why your thoughts are so intrusive and persistent are because that person did mean something to you. Remember heartbreak shows that you have the capacity to feel deeply and to love.
Time and space are your biggest healers. So is the importance of rebuilding your life. This means, after an appropriate period of grieving, you will look at starting to enjoy life. When wondering how to get back into dating again, give yourself space and time to heal, and then naturally you will know when you’re ready.
When you are heartbroken, the last thing you want to think about is to love again, however, humans are incredibly resilient and our possibilities are infinite. There may have been a reason, your heart was broken, but there is someone out there who will truly cherish yours and make you happier than you ever thought possible. Just keep going and you will get there!
Louisa Niehaus is a psychotherapist and relationship expert specializing in love, the second time around. You can find out more about her on her website. Her areas of specialization are in midlife transition, working through old patterns of behavior and identifying and attracting the love you need. Schedule a session with Louisa to see how you can grow with her, or learn more about her on Facebook.