If You're Going To Start Dating Again After A Breakup, Remember These 7 Things

My latest breakup followed a date that felt like an obligation. The something's off energy we'd both been ignoring crescendoed into an unbearable discomfort during drinks at an overpriced brewery, two old episodes of The Handmaid's Tale, and completely consensual but un-intimate sex that made me feel like I was 18 again (and not in a cute way). The morning after was tense, and following some tears and raised voices, it was clear that we were donezo. Now, a few hot baths and Adele songs later, I'm feeling ready to mingle. So, if you're going to start dating again after a breakup — I totally got your back. I'm right there by your side.

Dating after a breakup looks different for everyone. Sometimes, it takes a while to feel super comfortable putting yourself out there again, and other times, it feels like you'll never meet someone else. But you are loved and will find new happiness. You have so much to offer the world, and everyone you meet is lucky to be graced by your presence. You're going to make it through this breakup, and will undoubtedly meet tons of new cuties along the way.

If you're starting to date after a breakup — here are seven things to remember.

1. You Grow From Times Of Discomfort

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Not to sounds like a literal fortune cookie, but the hardest times are often when you grow the most. You may feel like your breakup broke you, and honestly, when you're knee deep in Alanis Morissette CDs and Anthropologie candles you can't really afford, and the idea of kissing someone else feels so foreign and impossible, it can be easy to feel that way.

But this breakup made you strong. It made you a warrior. Whether you know it now or not, you're closer to finding the type of relationship that's right for you. You're clearer on your likes and dislikes. You're stronger than you were before. And you're going to hit the dating world with power.

2. You Make Your Own Timeline

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If you're not ready, you're not ready. You don't need to let your mom or your friend or your roommates pressure you into going out or getting a Bumble date or anything that you don't want to do.

Whether you need to sit in your sweats for a week or you're back at it the same night as the breakup — you get to make your own timeline and your own rules. As long as everything you're doing is consensual and pleasurable to you, take the time you need and do the things you want to do.

3. It's OK Not To Be OK

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Maybe you go to a party with your friends, where you meet a cutie and hit it off. But when they ask for your number, you freeze. Or maybe you see an old friend for the first time in months and you recount the entire breakup until you start crying into you boba. Whatever it is, remember that it's OK to not be OK.

It's OK to think you're ready to date and then realize you're totally not or to cry in the middle of the work day because the romantic hotel you booked for next month just sent you a confirmation email. Feel all of your feelings, because it will ultimately help you to heal.

4. Taking (Healthy) Risks Can Be Fun

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So, your friends encouraged you to go out and you spot a cutie — do you go over to them? Give them your number? Do you subvert gender norms and offer to buy them a drink?

After a breakup, everything can feel like a "proceed with caution" situation, but taking (healthy) risks can be totally electrifying.

What defines "healthy risk," you ask? Although it differs for everyone, I like to think of healthy risks as things that feel a little daunting, but ultimately, aren't harmful to your body or mind (think performing a karaoke song by yourself or texting your crush first).

5. Your Ex Is In The Past, Baby

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If you haven't heard Kelsea Ballerini's "Miss Me More," you're going to want to put it on your "Dating Post-Breakup" playlist ASAP. (Also important is Beyoncé's "Freakum Dress.") Even in the healthiest relationships, compromise is crucial. Whether your ex didn't like when you wore heels, always controlled the radio, or never let you eat snacks in bed — now, my friend, is your time to shine.

If your ex wasn't supportive of your career goals or kind of tried to tell you how to do your hair or makeup (not OK, BTW) — post-breakup dating is your time to grace the world as your truest and realest self.

As Kelsea Ballerini says, "I thought I missed you, but I miss me more." You are full and amazing just as you are and always were, and the next person you date will love you for that.

6. You May Want To Think About Protection!

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If you're used to exclusively having sex with the same person or you and your ex weren't actively using contraceptives — dating after a breakup can mean some sexy check-in time.

It can super important and empowering (and fun!) to get frisky with new people after a breakup, but making sure you're protected is incredibly important. If you're feeling sheepish about people seeing you buy contraceptives, you can literally get them on Amazon! Or — insider trick — use self-checkout to get all the fun (and safe!) things for you, without ever making eye-contact with the cashier.

7. Be Kind To Yourself

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Perhaps the most important thing to remember when you're thinking of dating again after a breakup is to be kind to yourself. You are so strong and powerful, and you will recover from this.

If you need to lean a little extra on your friends or family through this, they get it. If you need to take at turtle speed with a new boo, that's OK too. Write down affirmations on your bathroom mirror. Eat junk food in bed. Wear a fun outfit. Do nice things for yourself, because you deserve it.

There's no way around it, dating after a breakup can sometimes feel totally intimidating. Whether you're getting back on the apps or the IRL prowl — you are going to be fine. This breakup didn't break you. So, put on your favorite song and sing-dance as you pick out your best outfit, because you're going out on the town, my friend. You're going to totally kill it.