Jumping back into the dating pool after a significant relationship ends is rarely easy. Unfortunately, if things between you and your ex ended on particularly bad terms, getting back out there can be even harder. While there are certainly no quick fixes for a broken heart, meeting new people and making new connections is a great way to remind yourself that the world is full of potential matches. Ultimately, dating again after a bad breakup is a process that requires both patience and persistence.
According to Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, it's totally normal to feel nervous about dating again after getting hurt. "A bad breakup is like a death and can cause tremendous doubt on multiple levels," Dr. Klapow tells Elite Daily. "This includes doubt in the dating process, the hopes of finding a new relationship, yourself, your skills, and in your ability to move forward. It's important to remember that a bad break-up is a traumatic experience that can cause anxiety, fear, trepidation, and hesitation to get back into the dating scene."
Give Yourself Some Time To Heal.
When it comes to dipping your toes back into romantic waters after losing love, making sure you're ready will help you start on the right foot. That said, everyone copes with loss and grief differently and there is no "right" or "wrong" amount of time to take before dating again. "When you begin to envision your life without your ex, then you may be ready to start dating," explains Dr. Klapow. "And it’s important to note that envisioning your life without your partner does not mean envisioning your life with someone else. Once you can see yourself navigating life solo for a while, then you are ready."
Put Yourself Out There, Even If It Feels Scary At First.
After you have fully accepted that your ex won't be a part of your future, you may still not feel excited about dating. If this is the case, Dr. Klapow recommends starting slow by easing back into social activities without obsessing over finding a new relationship as soon as possible. "You may not 'feel' like engaging in social activities and you may not 'feel' like moving forward, but do it anyway," says Dr. Klapow. "Allow your actions to begin to influence your thoughts. It’s OK if you aren’t feeling genuine or completely engaged in your new life because going through the motions can actually help move the process along."
Don't Shy Away From Messy Feelings.
Unfortunately, the grieving process is not linear. Even after you've been on a couple of dates or social outings, it's important to remember that lingering emotions may still come up, so let them. "You may find that after several weeks you feel fine only to be thrown back into old feelings when a song, a smell, a sight reminds you of your ex or the relationship," warns Dr. Klapow.
Although these types of emotional triggers may happen much more often in the early stages of mourning, Dr. Klapow notes that even long after a relationship is dead and gone, it's not uncommon to get triggered now and then. "A year may pass and you may even be dating or in a relationship, then your new date says something, does something, or looks a certain way, and you're cast back into the thoughts and memories of your ex and the old relationship," says Dr. Klapow. "This is very normal and will fade with time."
Taking the initial steps to move on from a relationship that ended badly will be difficult, but rest assured that your feelings about finding love again will eventually shift. In the meantime, opening yourself up to making social connections is a great way to ease back into the dating scene. Transitioning into single life will almost always come with ups and downs, but accepting the reality of the situation head-on and taking action to put yourself in environments where you can meet new people will pay off. Even if you don't end up meeting any viable dating options for a while, staying busy will keep the focus on moving forward.
Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist