After a break up, there are two messages battling it out in my mind: Love is dead forever, and what is the quickest route to a phone with Tinder on it? Both of these are terrible post-heartbreak ideas. One is nonsense because one breakup — even a really brutal one — does not mean you'll never find love again. The other (rushing to replace them) is just a recipe for disappointment and more heartache. So then what should you do? It's not like anyone is handing out pamphlets about how to date again after heartbreak.
What I've discover over the years — and far more breakups than I'd like to admit to today — is that, if your hurting heart is making your brain an unreliable narrator, it's probably time to call in a professional. Someone who deals with these kinds of broken heart conundrums on a daily basis and can be your guide when you want to blindly stumble under someone new, if ya know what I'm sayin'.
So I reached out relationship expert and matchmaker Nora DeKeyser of Three Day Rule to help navigate those murky waters that immediately follow a split, to when you think you’re ready to get out there, and finally how to actually get back into the dating game. If you want to maximize your chances of success, here is what Dekeyser says you should do.
1. Take Care Of Your Body And Mind
The very first thing you need to do after a heartbreak is do some major self care. This is basically emotional triage, folks. Dekeyser suggests treating yourself to a massage — and not just because they feel amazing. "The human brain cannot tell the difference between physical pain and emotional pain," she says. "So to cure emotional pain quickly, get that deep tissue massage to trick your brain into positive and healing endorphins. It works wonders!”
2. Take Advantage Of Your Freedom
When a relationship ends, oftentimes all you can think about are all the things you can never do with them again. But there is a flip side to that, a break up silver lining, if you will. “Do things that your partner didn't like to do, that you missed doing! This will remind you of your individualism and create a new and more confident feeling of autonomy,” says Dekeyser. In other words, you are free and this is your moment to reclaim everything you compromised away in the past.
3. Reconnect With Loved Ones
Being coupled up means a lot of your time was spent with them, and for me one of the hardest things about being suddenly single is all the time I have on my hands. Don’t spend it wallowing, since that’s only going to drag your heartbreak out. Instead, spend time with your family and friends. “They know you best,” says Dekeyser. “Do fun, new, activities that are exciting and positive: hiking, a new museum, a new workout class, a painting class, reiki mediation. The idea of trying something new is to begin a new life for you.”
4. Avoid The Boozy Spiral
Listen, I’m not saying you can’t crack the occasional bottle of wine or three, but just make sure you don’t fall to far down into that bottle. While a night out drinking with the girls may seem like the cure for a broken heart, Dekeyser warns alcohol is a depressant and may actually end up making you feel even worse. “Not to mention, the type of people who are out late at night and hitting on you, are probably not the type of long-term partners you want to find,” warns Dekeyser. “This will then trick your brain to thinking ‘there are no good guys out there, I really lost a great guy,’ when in reality… it’s just hard to meet a great guy at 2:00 a.m. at a bar.” Truth.
5. Consider What You Really Want In A Partner
After a little bit of time has passed and you have some distance from your ex, the rose-tinted glasses will inevitably begin to slip a little bit. Yeah, they were great in many ways, but there’s a reason you split, so they also had some shortcomings, things that should now be filed under red flags moving forward. Now that you’re single, you have the time to really consider what you want in a partner. After you’ve done that, Dekeyser advises you to turn that around on yourself as well, and ask yourself if you’re happy with where you are in your life. Are there changes you need to make? “If some of your answers are lacking, work on yourself!,” says Dekeyser. “It’s not until you are the type of person that you yourself would want to date, that you are ready for a new and healthy relationship.”
6. Let Your Friends Know You’re Ready To Get Out There
OK, so you’ve done all the things you should to emotionally and mentally to prepare yourself for reentry into the dating world. Now what? Well, it's time to enlist some help in getting back out there. Dekeyser says to start close to home first, by letting your friends know you’re ready to start dating again. “Get the word out! Friends are great matchmakers,” she says. Chances are they have someone in mind that is already prescreened and ready to go.
7. Do The Activities That You Enjoy Most
You may think getting out there means hitting da club, but honestly — and you already know this — da club is da worst for meeting new people. For going out drinking and maybe hooking up, it’s great. But if you’re on the hunt for love, Dekeyser suggest skipping the bar crawl and getting more creative by going to events and doing activities you love doing. “By going to events that you enjoy, you're being you're authentic self — what better place to meet someone?” she says.
8. Call In An Expert Or Fire Up A Dating App
If you’re really serious about finding love, you can also take a more direct approach. Sign back up for your favorite dating app and start chatting it up. The beauty of dating apps is that they put you in contact with so many new people so quickly. But of course, they have their drawbacks as well. “Don't put all your eggs in this basket, just use it for practice,” Dekeyeser says. “You have to manage your expectations: don't think the first date is your next husband.”
And if you’re tired of all the swiping and want something a bit more personalized, Dekeyser says it’s time to call in the big guns and sign up with a matchmaker. “It’s private and functional and you know details about a potential partner before you ever event meet them,” she explains. I mean, who couldn’t use a professional wingman, right?
I’m not going to say that after a breakup your heart won’t hurt, but hopefully now you see there is plenty of hope for future. Just take the time you need to heal, reconnect with yourself, and then get back out there, tiger. You got this.
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