A No-Nonsense Guide to Dating After a Breakup

It seems to me the longer your prior relationship ran for, the weirder it feels to date again. But what do you think? See, the breakup is usually a bit of a horror show regardless. And the recovery can be like some Rocky movie with adversity over hardship. But dating again? Yeah. Weird.

Here’s how I’d lay out the steps starting from the point of breakup —

Step 1: Get Over Your Past Relationship

Before you get back into the dating pool, get your last relationship out of your system. No one wants to date the person who still has one foot in the past. Learning how to heal from a breakup is crucial before moving on to new relationships.

Now, everyone processes grief differently. Some need to talk it out while others are better off doing something thrilling. There’s no formula to it so don’t look for one.

Action Step: Give yourself time to grieve and vent. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own way. It’s different for everyone. Cry, laugh, write a journal, or climb a mountain… whatever you like. So long as you don’t stagnate or suppress your feelings, it’s all good.

Oh, and if you are so inclined, you can look back at all past relationships for lessons. You know, to see what worked, what didn’t, and what you would like to do different when you date again.

Step 2: Pursue Independence

Before you get serious about dating again, see if you can get a sense of being a complete person all on your own. That means reclaiming your independence. After all, the more content you feel, the better the dating will go.

Action Step: Get busy with the activities you enjoy. Be curious about what makes you tick. Use the time you have to find your north star. Basically, this is a great time to rediscover who you are outside the context of a relationship.

Psst: The clearer you get about who you are, the more attractive you will be. Focusing on self-improvement can be a powerful way to boost your confidence and readiness for dating.

Step 3: Gauge Your Readiness

Don’t jump back into dating when you’re not ready. The more recent your breakup, the less likely you are to be ready. But hey, that’s just a guideline. However long ago the breakup, just be reasonably sure you’re ready to dip your toes in dating again.

Action Step: Check yourself. Ask, “Am I ready to date again?” What’s your gut feeling? There’s no rush here. Just check-in with yourself. If you’re unsure? Wait another week and check again.

Step 4: Enjoy It

If you’re not having fun, why are you doing it? Dating should be fun. And that’s how you should view it. Yeah, I know you may be nervous, but reminding yourself that it’s just a date and it’s something to enjoy… can take the edge off.

Action Step: Approach dating like it’s something to look forward to (because it is.) Be positive. Don’t overthink it or make a big deal about it. Keep your expectations in check, and besides? Every one you meet will be different from your ex. And they’ll likely be a tad nervous, too.

Step 5: Go Slow

You don’t need to rush things when dating. It’s not a race. If you take your time and keep a relaxed attitude, everything will go smoother for you.

Also, you don’t need every date to go perfect or to hit it off with the first date you have. If it doesn’t work out, so be it. It’s just a bit of fun, and it’s useful practice.

Action Step: Tell yourself to relax and take it easy. Be happy to find out by finding out… so you can enjoy getting to know different people and taking things at a pace you’re comfortable with. It’s not a big deal.

Step 6: Communicate Clearly

Communication is the backbone of any relationship. Dull but true. So when dating and meeting new people, be clear and honest about the big stuff in life, including your expectations.

In general, you can be playful about the small stuff so long as you’re true about the big stuff.

For example, if you have kids, don’t pretend you don’t. It’s not cool to deceive.

Action Step: Communicate clearly with your date. If something is bothering you, speak up. If you’re not ready for the next step, let them know. It’s simple stuff but it goes a long way.

Is That It?

Dating after a breakup can be strange for sure. But you should reframe is as an exciting adventure that isn’t a big deal. Which means not over thinking it and assuming it requires a ton of steps. Just be sure you are ready to do it without bringing baggage from the old relationship. And you’re good to go. Understanding different attachment styles can also help you navigate new relationships more effectively.

Here are the key takeaways:

  1. Get over your past relationship: Whatever works for you, works. Everyone is different. Find the path that aligns with you and stick to it. You’ll probably need to experiment a little. Perfectly normal.
  2. Pursue independence: Get familiar with yourself. Who are you outside of a relationship? Find out.
  3. Gauge your readiness: Before jumping back into dating, make sure you’re ready and eager.
  4. Enjoy it: Pursue dating with an playful mind. You should enjoy it!
  5. Take things slow: Don’t rush the dating journey. Let things progress naturally without forcing it.
  6. Communicate clearly: Be clear about the big stuff. Don’t deceive. Let your date know your expectations. No biggie.

It’s not complicated. Dating after a breakup is a perfectly natural thing. So long as you’re ready it’ll be fine for you. And hey, the most important thing is to enjoy it. If you can do that, you’ll have no worries at all.

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About the author: I’m a relationship coach with a focus on breakup recovery. I’ve been doing this for 13 years, helping thousands of people worldwide. I created the Breakup Dojo, a popular resource with over 1,000 members. I’ve authored several in-demand breakup recovery products, drawing from my deep fascination with psychology. I also publish the “Ex-Communication” newsletter, providing over 10,000 subscribers worldwide with actionable advice.