How to start dating again after a bad breakup

Next time, it'll be different

Most of us have had a bad breakup at some point. You know, the kind where you can’t stop crying for weeks and you have a pit in your stomach for months, and you can’t hear that person’s name without feeling like you’ve been sucker punched for years? We can’t much help with the PTSD, but we can help you figure out how to move forward.

1. Stop waiting for your ex

Look, never say never. Sometimes it makes sense to give it a minute, but be honest with yourself if you’ve been waiting around forever for your ex to come back to you, and it’s just not going to happen. Life is too short to spend it waiting for people to want you. There are people out there who will want you and it won’t even be hard.

2. Take all the time you need

After a breakup, especially if you’re really upset about it or if it was a long relationship, it may feel like everyone you know from your mom to your boss to your neighbor’s cat is pressuring you to “get back out there.” They may even be trying to set you up with totally unsuitable people. Here’s the thing though: you don’t need to get back out there until you’re ready, and you don’t have to be ready at any specific time! Use this time to take care of yourself in ways other people can’t.

3. Figure out what you’re looking for first

Resist the urge to just sign up for all the apps and go out with whomever seems semi-reasonable without giving it much thought. This is an opportunity for you to clarify your priorities and decide what it is you’re really looking for in a partner.

4. Process your trauma

Do what you need to do to process whatever sh*t you have left over from this relationship and its ending. Maybe that’s therapy, maybe that’s talking your bestie’s ear off, maybe it’s surrounding yourself with crystals and getting an essential oil diffuser. It’s probably impossible to fully process any trauma, but we can always give it a go in the interest of entering the dating scene as emotionally healthy as possible.

5. Once you start dating, go slow

Don’t give in to the social pressure to get into another relationship right away if that’s not what you actually want. Casual dating can be fun, and it also serves a purpose. Take your time to get to know people and figure out whether you two are a good fit before you make any commitments.

6. Communicate with new people

It’s okay to talk about what you’ve gone through with new people you’re dating. That said, dramatically sobbing while on a first date may not be the most productive, so try to make sure you’re ready to be dating. But generally speaking, it’s fine to have feelings and history and be a complicated person. It might even be helpful to share pertinent info about your previous experiences that will prevent misunderstandings.

7. Make sure you’re ready before having sex

If you’re not ready to have sex with someone new, that’s okay and normal. It’s also okay and normal if you are ready to have sex with someone new. And it’s completely your right to change your mind at any point, including after you’ve been making out with someone for hours or after you’ve already started having sex. This is your rodeo, bb. While you’re at it, don’t forget to get yourself and any new partner(s) tested before you hop into bed with them, and if there’s a chance you might get pregnant and don’t want to be, make sure you’re on a form of birth control that works for you.

Written by Lauren Kernan, MA

Lauren Kernan is the Director of Content and UX Strategy for Bedsider and Abortion Finder. In her spare time, she can be found sewing or starting and giving up on various other crafts.