A situation that I am being asked about a lot lately is “I’ve just broken up with someone and I’m trying to get back out there, but I’m really struggling”
I don’t know why, but it seems to be the breakup season. In the last couple of months I’ve come across this situation probably 8-10 times. Maybe it’s a summer thing, I don’t know, but I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are confused by their subsequent vanished ability in the dating world.
I think the key thing to remember here is that you’re healing. A very good friend once said to me when I was in a similar situation – “You’re trying to run a race with a broken leg” There is this concept that we hear a lot which is that you should just man up, get back out there and hook up with someone else. OK, there is nothing wrong with that, and I agree that it can be pretty effective, but from what I most often see, rarely does it happen that simply.
If you really cared about your ex, and especially if there was a lot of pain at the end, it will take a lot longer to heal than what anyone who hasn’t experienced it can understand. From what I see, it will be months, perhaps even a year, before you feel properly healed. You will feel numb, empty, angry, confused, all of the above, and obviously these are not ideal states to be pleasantly enjoying the company of someone new. So my advice is to just go easy on yourself – do what feels right for YOU, not what you feel you should be doing. Give yourself proper healing time. Absolutely get back out there, but don’t have high expectations of yourself, don’t pressure yourself – this will make things worse. You’re trying to fill the pit of pain with something which just doesn’t fit. It needs to fill itself in. When things feel tough, when approaching feels like work, when you feel flat, when your dates suck – the worst thing that you can do is to think that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. There isn’t, you’re just human and you’re just going through a tough and emotionally draining time. You will reach a time when you suddenly realise that you’re OK to move on, and that moment will be either a conscious decision, or something that is thrust upon you (i.e. – you will randomly meet someone new and realise that you’re OK to date again).
Most people actually hate the dating game at the best of times, let alone when they’re an emotional wreck.
So on top of allowing time to heal and going easy on yourself, here are some other pieces of advice other than the obvious clichés like “don’t be alone”:
1) Google. Google has right there waiting for you the stories, advice and information from a million people who have been in your position before. Use it. Whatever you’re feeling, Google it. Hearing that other people have been there, have come out of it, and what helped them can really help. Also join forums and groups on the topic – one being my Breakup Support Group
2) Go out. Yes – still go out, but as I’ve just explained, don’t put pressure on yourself to be on top social form. You don’t have to, you owe no one anything. You’re allowed to dwell. Suppression of this I feel will end much worse than allowing yourself to feel it. There is positive thinking (which I do recommend), but then there is also just plain old unhealthy self-delusion. Again I recommend Meetup.com for getting back into socialising as you can attend interest group meetings where you’re already interested in the primary topic of discussion.
3) Use the frustration (and extra time) to work on what you really want. What is it that you’ve always really wanted to do? Where do you see your future? What do you day dream about? You can find passion in things and activities as much as you can in people. If your life consists of waking up at the crack of dawn, going to job that you hate, then coming home and passively sitting around doing nothing – breakups will affect you much more. In fact the breakup might have been a blessing in disguise to make you change that. I find that the people who do the above – who take action to feel better, to improve their lives, and get planning on how to get what they actually want, most often are soon thankful for the breakup.
4) Look into professional help. This can be in the form of pick up/dating coaching which will help you get back out there and shorten the road to recovery, alternate medicine, psychology, etc. If you have the money, your mental health and future are the best investments that you can make. If you don’t have the money, you will find some professionals open to some free assistance (you would be surprised what you can get by just asking). Also the government runs a mental health scheme where anyone can ask their doctor for free counselling sessions which are subsidized through Medicare. I know a lot of people who have found this handy in their hour of need.
5) Journal. Daily journaling (or blogging) is something that I highly recommend anyway, but especially in times like this where venting is good. Use your journal to really express how you feel, especially thoughts and feelings which you may be inclined to hide from others. Journaling is great as it’s an outlet that never tires of hearing the same old thing, which those around you may.
6) Lastly, realise that holding onto hate in the long-term is toxic and will tether you, even if you feel that it’s justified. If you’re unfortunate enough to have experienced a break up in which you got cut a raw deal, know that in good time, letting go doesn’t excuse the other person or their actions, but it does bring you peace. Hate is a reflection of something within yourself, and your faith (or lack thereof). As woo woo as it sounds, I believe that you need to align yourself with love in order to move forward … for you, not for them. Moving on while hating is just moving across, and you will carry that into your future.
Hope that helps some of you in this situation. My heart goes out to you. As hard as it is to see now, with the right outlook and actions it will very likely turn out to be the best thing to have ever happened to you.
If your dating life could use a kick-start, or if you want to really ramp up your game, book a session today.