Every week on 30 Dates, we welcome different members of the dating industry to write guest posts. This week relationship coach Laura Yates joins us to discuss break-ups.
Dating After a Break-Up
When it comes to break-ups, there’s a lot of talk about when to feel ‘ready’ to get back out dating. Dating and getting into a new relationship are two very different things though, which is why it does no harm to start dating again even if you don’t feel ready for anything too full on. I’m certainly not saying that you shouldn’t focus on yourself after a breakup, as that’s an important part of the healing process. And definitely not to dive head first into a new relationship. But more so to not put pressure on the outcome of dating. It’s not an ‘all or nothing’ thing and the best way to think about it is an opportunity to meet new people. There’s no need to deny yourself meeting new people just because you don’t think you should because it’s too soon. Sometimes it can be just the thing you need!
That said, getting back in the dating saddle can be daunting, particularly if you’ve come out of a long-term relationship. It’s more of a mindset thing so here are some of my tips on how to prepare yourself!
1) Don’t be negative
We’re funny creatures! To protect ourselves from disappointment or rejection we think that if we imagine the worst possible outcome everything else will be a bonus. Whilst this might seem like the safest way to approach it, we then give off a seriously negative vibe. We’re either too guarded, convey the impression we can’t be bothered or seem uptight. None of these make for a great date for the other person! If you’re telling yourself that you’re going to have a terrible time, you probably will. Even if you’re struggling to be genuinely excited (which is understandable so don’t beat yourself up on that!) at least keep an open mind. Just make a commitment to yourself that for those couple of hours you’ll enjoy the date for exactly what it is – a new experience.
2) Don’t pin all your hopes on it
On the reverse side of not being negative, don’t pin all your hopes on this one date! Sometimes you can have an amazing first date with someone and the rest is history but it’s unrealistic to think that this is the way it always goes. More often than not, you will need to go on a few dates to find that special someone and that’s great because it gets you really clear on what you want and don’t want. Don’t put pressure on this new person having to be the one to change your life after the pain you’ve gone through following your break-up. Remember that you’ve been out of the dating game for a while and if you’re in that ‘all or nothing’ mindset it will convey as being way too eager, desperate or that you’re disappointed with them. Just be relaxed and open-minded. It’s also important to remember that ‘chemistry’ and ‘sparks’ aren’t always immediate either. So if you didn’t quite feel it on the first date that doesn’t mean it can’t develop. Don’t write people off too soon.
3) Dating is a great way to fine-tune your conversation skills!
When you start dating again, especially when out of a long-term relationship, the most daunting part might not be meeting new people but knowing what to say to them! Good conversation skills are like muscles; you have to keep training them to keep them in shape. This doesn’t mean becoming someone else but just being aware of how conversation creates connection and attraction. Think about the interesting and unique things you can tell your date about yourself and questions you might want to ask them that go beyond the standard and often quite dull chatter. Instead of asking what they do, focus on finding out why they do it. Why people think or do things reveals much more about them as a person. This doesn’t mean getting too deep, meaningful and serious – you can still keep it light-hearted and flirty!
4) Even if it’s a disaster, what’s the best possible outcome?
No one loves a bad date but the best way to look at it is that it will always make for an entertaining story! We’ve all been there! I once had a terrible first date right after coming out of a relationship but I decided to see the funny side of it because it makes a great anecdote. I also knew that any other date would be a vast improvement!
It’s really about seeing dating as an experience, an opportunity to meet new people and to also get a clearer idea of what you want in a partner. Even if you’re not ready for a new relationship, don’t swear yourself off dating. It takes time for the dating phase to develop into relationship, and you can pick and choose how much you date or not. Don’t cut yourself off completely because you just never know what that one date might lead to.
Laura Yates is a relationship and dating coach, specialising in helping people through break-ups and heartbreak.