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8 Steps to Dating After a Breakup

Finding love again after a breakup is possible with these steps that focus on nurturing yourself, processing feelings, and dating with intention. Find your person today.

Whether you’ve been single for a year or a collection of days, the thought of dating after a breakup can be daunting. After all, breaking up can be a traumatic experience, and dipping your toes back into the dating pool might come with some anxious feelings. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a friendly shoulder to lean on for advice — and we’re here to help. 

These 8 steps to dating after a breakup are intended to be guidelines, not set rules where you can’t go to the next step without achieving the first one. Many of these steps might overlap as you date, like processing feelings about your ex while you meet new love interests. This is completely normal and just part of the wonderful, wild human experience.

1. Reconnect with Yourself

The first step in learning how to start dating again is to reconnect with yourself. Tuning into your thoughts and feelings and taking a breath might be exactly what you need to feel more like yourself again. 

Sometimes moments of reconnection could be just that: a couple of minutes meditating, journaling, or staring at the sunset. Other times it might look like giving yourself some distance from routine, like:

  • Planning a staycation. Perhaps you swap homes with a friend or family member for a weekend or book a night in a hotel. 
  • Taking a road trip (even if it’s just an hour) to go somewhere you’ve never been before but always hoped you would. 
  • Traveling solo. It might sound scary to book a trip on your own, but this provides the perfect environment to recapture feelings of confidence and excitement.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and in this case, it can make your heart heal. Sometimes there isn’t enough air to accomplish this at home, in the same spaces occupied by a past relationship. Give yourself the gift of a break.

2. Start Fresh

Jumping back into dating after a breakup can be more challenging when you’re reminded of your past partner. Maybe you walk into your home with fresh eyes and realize that your ex

is everywhere. You’ve had this dining room table for as long as you’ve been together. That rug was a purchase made together on a weekend trip antiquing. Maybe they left some shirts in the closet. Objects remind us of people, memories, and feelings. And constant reminders can keep you from finding closure.

Start to move on from your ex by getting rid of some items that are too nostalgic. While a dining room table is probably a necessity, consider donating or selling smaller items, like gifts or clothing. If you feel comfortable reaching back out to your ex, you could see if they’d like to take these items off your hands. The goal here is to start fresh and give yourself the best chance at moving on.

3. Process Your Last Relationship

If you feel ready to think about your past relationship, get started by remembering the likes, dislikes, hurts, and joys. Try writing all of these down as a way to make them more tangible. This list will help you understand how you felt when you were with them and what you do and don’t want in a future relationship. 

Next, and this is the extra hard part, consider your own areas of weakness and how they played out in your last relationship. Owning up to your own shortcomings doesn’t point the finger at yourself; rather, it’s an eye-opening practice that can lead to self-awareness, giving you practical things to work on in your next relationship.

4. Know What’s Motivating You

Considering your motivations for dating after a breakup is a beneficial step because it can help you pinpoint any insecurities you might have. For example, are you motivated to date simply because you’re afraid of being alone or don’t want to cope with loneliness? Or are you hoping to show your ex that you’ve moved on (aka make them jealous)? Neither are particularly healthy reasons to start dating again and may even create future heartbreak because you’re in it for the wrong reasons.

Good motivators might look like wanting to have fun, enhance your life, and find meaningful connections. No matter what your motivation is, trust yourself and do what you feel is right. And it never hurts to learn how to be happy and single — even if it’s just for a season.

5. Go at Your Own Pace

There’s no fast track to being ready for love after love. Some days you might feel ready to dive head-first into dating, while other days might feel like slogging through emotions and old memories. When you want to know when and how to start dating again, just take it day by day. 

You can start small by simply setting up a dating profile or low-key flirting with the person that caught your eye at the coffee shop. Maybe even throw out the fact that you’re single to trusted friends and family members so that they can be on the lookout for people in their networks who might be a good match. These are great ways to venture back into dating. 

Remember that the ball is in your court. If someone asks you out on a date and you don’t feel fully ready, it’s okay to decline politely or tell them that you need more time. No matter what, going at your own pace is the best way to proceed.

6. Assess How You’re Feeling

Once you start going on first dates after a breakup, it’s important to take a pulse on how the process is going and how you’re feeling. Some dates might go really well, and others might be ho-hum. It’s all part of the dating process. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you get in the groove of dating after a breakup:

  • Am I feeling hopeful and energized about dating or experiencing some signs of dating burnout?
  • Are the people I’m talking to meeting my goals and preferences? 
  • Am I having fun?

You might need to adjust your approach to dating based on your answers to these questions. For example, if you’re experiencing exhaustion or just aren’t motivated to keep meeting people, it might be best to take a break. Similarly, if you’re not aligning with the people you meet, try something new like matchmaking to get more curated matches. 

These tips can help you start dating with intention and ensure a more satisfying dating experience. You can even apply this advice if you’ve begun a new relationship after a breakup. Read our guide on taking a break in a relationship.

7. Do Things That Make You Feel Confident

Building and keeping your confidence is super important when dating after a breakup. After all, even if the breakup wasn’t necessarily a relationship trauma, it still might have left you with shaken confidence.

First thing’s first: say goodbye to negative self-talk. Don’t let negative thoughts creep into your internal monologue. Focus on the positives, including the amazing qualities you can bring to a partnership.

Other ways to build confidence include keeping up with your favorite hobbies and activities that make you feel good and spending time with friends and family who build you up and are emotionally available. Plus, it’s always a good idea to date yourself because doing so can lead to even more self-love.

8. Remember that It’s a Journey, Not a Race

Sometimes dating after a breakup can feel like you’re running a romantic race, with the finish line who knows where. But try to think of finding your person as an exciting journey, where you can learn about yourself and other people, try new things, and have fulfilling life experiences.

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