Have you gone through a recent break up and keep asking yourself if you’re ready to start dating again? Sara Davison, aka the Divorce Coach, told Healthista how to know when you’re ready to start dating.
‘How long should I wait to date again’? Joanna asked me nervously during her first coaching session with me. Her marriage with Guy had fizzled out years ago, although they had ignored it and carried on with the pretence. The love and intimacy was long gone and so whilst the official breakup was only six weeks ago, she felt ready to start dating again right away.
In contrast Petra was still in shock, curled up on my coaching clinic sofa, sobbing her way through a box of tissues. Sam had left her for a woman at work two months ago and she was still struggling to come to terms with the fact that he had gone. She couldn’t imagine ever moving on or being with another man.
The truth is, every breakup is different and it will depend on you as to when you feel ready to date again. There is no hard and fast rule to measure the time, although there are some common pitfalls to avoid.
Relationships have a tendency to come along when you least expect them
The most common pitfall to avoid is jumping straight into a relationship with the first person with a pulse to show you a sign of affection. It may solve your loneliness issues but it most likely won’t have the foundation to make you happy in the long run. This can lead to even more heartbreak and pain.
Another pitfall to avoid is worrying about what everyone else thinks. Joanna’s friends were very critical of her wanting to date again and said she should wait for at least six months as ‘it looked bad’! In sharp contrast, Petra’s best friend was already trying to set her up to encourage her to let go of Sam once and for all, and it was the last thing Petra wanted to do.
You have to make the decision for yourself when you feel ready and when you want to take the next step forward. Work on your own time and trust your instinct to know when you feel comfortable to test the dating waters again. There is nothing wrong with keeping your eyes open so you don’t miss out on an opportunity. Relationships have a tendency to come along when you least expect it.
Here are my top 10 signs that you are really ready to date again.
#1 You’re no longer grieving
You have stopped crying about the relationship and are not talking about it all the time to anyone who will listen. At first, your breakup will be all consuming and all you want to talk about. You are ready to date again when you are bored of your own breakup story and want something new and exciting to talk to friends about.
#2 You’ve achieved acceptance
You have accepted the end of your relationship when you have taken off your rose tinted glasses and can see the relationship wasn’t right for you, warts and all. It may still be sad for you, but you have accepted that there is no going back and you want to move forward.
#3 Oooh, who’s that?
You may be ready to start dating again when you begin to fancy other people again, or someone new makes your heat skip a beat and gets your pulse racing. Love and connection is the number one human need so it’s normal to want to find that again with someone. When you start to notice that other people are attractive then you know you its time to take action and move on.
#4 You know you’re single
When you have rediscovered your single identity. It’s common to lose a sense of self, especially after a long relationship. You are used to compromising and so may have lost track of what you really enjoy doing and what makes you tick. Take some time to rediscover who you are now you are single and do the things you love.
#5 You’re loving yourself
When you have learnt to love yourself again. A new partner cannot fix the gaps and holes in you, however much you may want them too. So it’s important to work on yourself and heal those wounds so that you are not looking for someone to save you.
#6 “I know what I need”
When you know what you need from a partner. It’s easy to know what we want; tall, dark, short, blonde, these traits are easily identifiable. However it’s vital that you look at what you need from a new partner. Do you need someone who is open about their feelings? Do you need someone who will love your kids and fit in easily with them? When you know what you need it will help you increase your chances of finding someone that you have a chance of long term happiness with.
#7 You know your love language
When you know what your predominant Languages of Love are. We all have different ways of expressing our romantic love. The five love languages are words of affection, physical touch, quality time, acts of service, and gifts. Just knowing what your top two languages of love are will give you an insight into how you show love and also need to receive love from a partner.
#8 You know what went wrong
Have you learnt from your mistakes? Like it or not both parties play a part in a relationship breakdown. Maybe you let resentment fester, maybe you didn’t address unacceptable behaviour early enough or maybe you just picked the wrong partner. Take responsibility of the part you played so that you can learn from it and avoid making the same mistakes again.
#9 You know what you’re looking for
Design your ideal partner. Take some time to really think about what you are looking for. If you know what you want then you are much more likely to find it as it focuses your brain on what you want, rather than what you don’t want. Include everything from looks, personality, values, family, education, beliefs and anything else that is important to you.
Be open to meeting Mr or Ms Right now rather than Mr or Ms Right
Also include 5 ‘Must Not Haves’ if there is anything you know that is a deal breaker on a serious relationship for you. These might deal with kids, smoking habits, or lies.
#10 Knowing what a partner can give you
You have a realistic idea of what a new partner can give you. We have all different friends we would go to for different things. One friend we can have a good night out with, another we ask advice about our career, another for issues about children and another for parent related advice. So make sure you have realistic expectation about what you new partner can do for you – don’t expect them to be perfect in every area; great lover, friend, DIY expert, parent and open emotionally!
Don’t lose hope, Louise didn’t
Louise came along to one of my Breakup Recovery Retreats and she was adamant she would never date again. Her husband had moved in with a much younger woman and she was devastated, but it had been 18 months and she was still refusing to date. Digging a little deeper she soon realised that she was terrified of being rejected again. She signed up on a dating app on the first evening and had 10 likes by the next day. One of them she dated happily for 6 months.
The irony is that being brave enough to dip your toe into dating again can massively boost your confidence. With the dating apps you can now connect with potential dates from your sofa in your pyjamas with no makeup on.
The key is to be open to meeting Mr or Ms Right NOW rather than Mr or Ms Right. You will be surprised at how getting a few ‘likes’ can boost your self-esteem and help you feel great about yourself again. Treat it as a bit of fun and don’t put any pressure on yourself to meet the perfect partner. Take it one step at a time and at your own pace.
It’s a big world…you need to take action and get out there. If you’re anything like me, the only person to knock at my front door is the postman and he’s already taken. So my advice is: when you feel ready, give it a go.
Sara Davison, best known as ‘The Divorce Coach’ is one of the UK’s most sought after authorities on break-up and divorce.
Revolutionising the way we view and navigate one of life’s most traumatic events, Davison’s quest to banish the stigma surrounding divorce and prove that the end of a relationship can be the most empowering, life-affirming event to ever happen to you, is fast catching-on.
A twice-bestselling author, NLP Master Practitioner and qualified hypnotherapist, Sara combines 20 years’ coaching experience together with her own experience of marriage breakdown to create bespoke coaching programmes designed to help individuals transform their lives by taking control of their mind and designing the lives they want to live.
Sara launched the UK’s first ever Break-up Recovery Retreat, which run every eight weeks throughout the year.
Sara’s new book ‘The Split: From Breakup to Breakthrough in 30 days or less’ launched in January 2019 and follows her bestseller, ‘Uncoupling’ which was published in 2016.