You’ve played your breakup playlist and let yourself feel the rollercoaster of emotions post-breakup. And now, you’re ready to start dating again. To guide us through the hesitations and jitters of getting back out there and meeting new people (shall we even say, a new potential s/o?), we tapped Heartbreak Coach, Claire Byrne, for her expert insight. Below, she explores the dos and don’ts of dating again after a relationship has ended.
Editor’s note: Although this article uses male pronouns, the advice applies to all sexual orientations and gender identities.
Do be present and have fun.
“Date one (typically) is not a hubby, an interview … or date seven. Acquaint yourself with exactly who he is to you—a person you are getting to know who could potentially become a romantic partner. Easier said than done when all the giddy feels arise, but really, those first dates are just that—acquainting yourself and gathering information. Consciously set an intention to remind yourself of this before each date.”
Don’t bring past relationships into your present.
“Your ex is not the current guy you’re seeing, even if you observe similarities. He’s a completely separate human, so kindly treat him as such.”
Do pace the drinking (if you drink).
“Maybe you can handle a stiff cocktail and still walk in a straight line, but the chance of building a conscious connection with a potential partner is less likely while doing so. Sure, liquid courage can loosen you up and quell a few nerves in the moment, but losing control, forgetting what you said, or wishing you didn’t say so much takes you out of the game of authentically getting to know someone.”
“Really hear a man when he speaks. (Drinking less will help you do so.) Is he telling you he’s not really a relationship guy or even looking for a relationship? Take off your earmuffs and cover your vagina with them! If you’re serious about finding Mr. Right, no insane physical attraction should outweigh your emotional needs or have you sacrificing what you’re seeking in a partner.”
“If he’s telling you he wants to be exclusive after only a few dates, get clear with yourself and him. Sure, it’s flattering and exciting—especially if you were hoping the two of you would eventually progress—but what’s the rush? There’s always an exception, but more often than not, the person who jumps the gun to advance the relationship is usually the person who bounces when it gets more real, and it’s most likely because he sees a side of you that wasn’t as ideal as he’d made you in his head after barely any time together. If he’s meant to be your person, he will patiently wait and get to know you at a healthier pace that you are both comfortable navigating.”
Don’t be afraid to state what you’re looking for.
“This doesn’t mean make sure he wants to have babies tomorrow on date one, but there’s nothing wrong with finding out whether or not he’d like to be a dad or is looking to settle down, when you address it from an organic, non-creepy place! And if you don’t desire either of those things, be upfront about that too. If you want to meet a man of integrity who doesn’t mislead, show up and be the example of that in all of your relationships.”
Is there a certain amount of time you recommend waiting to date again?
“We’ve all heard the story of the girl who was devastated by a breakup but then in swooped her knight in shining armor, and they lived happily ever after!
Sure, that happens, but more often than not, people get back on the apps as a way to replace their ex or distract themselves from the pain of the loss, way before they’ve actually healed their hearts and learned their lesson.
There’s no prescribed formulaic time period for when you should date again, but lean in and do the heavy healing work on yourself, first!”
Heartbreak coach Claire Byrne helps women stop wanting Mr. Wrong back, and ultimately find Mr. Right! She’s the host of her podcast, How to Stop Wanting Him Back.