If you’re a woman coming off a bad breakup, the idea of dipping your toes back into the dating pool can be a frightening one. This is especially true for ladies coming out of long-term marriages that didn’t work out.
The good news is that finding yourself newly single and ready to mingle doesn’t have to be a nightmare. The key is knowing the best ways to re-enter the dating scene as painlessly as possible. It’s also about adjusting your expectations when it comes to finding love again.
“You have to put a ton of work in,” says Evan Marc Katz, author and dating coach for women. “Falling in love isn’t difficult in the way that calculus is difficult, but it’s not a linear process where you go on X number of dates for X number of weeks or months, and you’re guaranteed something in the end.”
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On the contrary, Katz says that patience and hard work are paramount to finding someone special. So what’s the best way to re-enter the dating scene after a relationship ends? Here are a handful of tips designed to make the transition a little smoother.
Take it slow at first
Being single again represents new and exciting territory for some women. For others, the loneliness that comes with being on your own can be unbearable. In either situation, it may be tempting to jump into a new relationship pronto. But experts say that this probably isn’t the best idea.
“Don’t rush into a new relationship right away,” says dating and relationship coach Lindsay Chrisler. “Make sure you take the time first to be single, and to learn how to actually enjoy your life and understand yourself.”
In other words, take some time to focus on yourself. Activities that build self-esteem can be rewarding on many levels. Chrisler says she has had clients do everything from rewrite their resumes to land their dream job, to enroll in a pole dancing class. (The idea here is to do things that both feel good and foster independence and confidence.)
According to Chrisler, the reason people get out of relationships in the first place is to ultimately have a more fulfilling experience. But taking a break and being single can feel scary, especially with loneliness, frustration and embarrassment being such common feelings.
“After a breakup, your self-esteem is naturally lower because you feel dumped or rejected,” says Chrisler, who adds that this time is really about finding your sexiness, sensuality and lovability again. “I highly recommend taking a period to just find these things with yourself.”
Look for patterns in your past relationships
Once you feel ready to hit the dating scene again, take a moment to look back on your last few relationships. Notice any patterns? Identifying a common theme in past relationships can be vital in preventing yourself from attracting the same type of guy again and again.
“You absolutely need to change your patterns,” says Chrisler. “Changing your beliefs, changing your relationship with yourself, changing your daily habits – when that happens, you attract a different kind of guy because you’re operating on a different level.”
In simpler terms: We don’t attract what we want; we attract what we are. If you notice that your last three relationships were with commitment-phobes, for example, you need to change your outlook so that you don’t find yourself with the same kind of guy the next time around.
“If you take the time to envision for yourself a better, more fulfilling experience in a relationship, you’re much more likely to attract a better relationship,” Chrisler says.
Go on a lot of dates
When it comes to finding love, it really is a numbers game. Unless you’re making a real effort to get out there and meet new people, your chances of finding it will be slim.
“If you go on one date a week, you have 50 chances of falling in love in a year,” says Katz. “When you go on one date a year with a guy you happened to meet at the bank, then you only have one chance of falling in love that year.”
The message here is to increase your odds by prioritizing dating. Katz says that many newly single women have a false expectation that they can simply sign up with an online dating site and find love in 30 days. The truth is that it’s rarely that easy.
Instead, Katz advises treating your search for love like the potential marathon that it is. This comes down to following up with guys you meet online, going on dates, getting to know each other on the phone, and finding the time to connect with someone who just might turn out to be the love of your life.
“There’s this theory out there that when I meet the right guy, I’ll make time for him,” says Katz. “But that’s backward: You need to make time to meet the right guy.”