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Let’s not sugarcoat it. It’s tough to get out there again after having your heart stomped on. If you’re like most people, you don’t know exactly where to start. You also doubt your ability to find true love. And, of course, you’re anxious, even petrified perhaps.
It truly is a thrilling yet intimidating new world. But alas, it is a world one can learn to navigate after absorbing the proper knowledge. Let me attempt to give you just that.
As you’ll see, my dating philosophy is identical to my re-attraction philosophy. It’s permeated with unrestrained vulnerability. It’s based on raw, unfiltered honesty and self-improvement. And it’s entirely devoid of gimmicks, games, tricks, and fake behavior.
I’ll start this guide with advice on when to begin dating after a breakup. Then I’ll describe some common reactions people have to it. After that, I’ll list what I think are the most important dating tips. And in the end, I’ll give some final thoughts on the subject.
When To Start Dating After A Breakup
Some people say you should wait months or years. They reason that after such a long time, you’ll be less emotional and likely to get involved in an unhealthy rebound relationship.
Some people say you should only wait a few days. They argue that the sooner you find someone better than your ex, the sooner you’ll forget about them.
Other people insist on following these weird rules. For instance, “Wait for half the length of your previous relationship before you start dating.”
This never made sense to me. In fact, I never jived with any of these tips. They’re a mixed bag, in my opinion. Here’s my take on the topic. Start dating only when:
- It genuinely begins to feel fun and exciting.
- You’re not trying to get validation that you’re still loved, appreciated, and respected.
- You’re not trying to suppress or avoid your breakup pain by getting lost in the warm embrace of strangers.
- You’re not trying to prove to your ex (or yourself) that you’re better off.
As you’d guess, a person’s readiness for dating varies greatly. Ready Rey might be immediately willing to jump into dating after being dumped. Whereas Steady Stan might need to work on himself for a couple of months before he’s ready.
Common Post-Breakup Dating Reactions
1. Dating brings me right back to pain. This reaction can mean one of two things. Either it signals your brain that a) you’re actually moving on and thus shocks you, or b) you’re rushing things and aren’t really ready for dating. Regardless, if dating hurts, take a break and try again later.
2. I’m not interested in/attracted to this person. Sometimes this apathetic response is accurate, in which case, move on to someone else. But other times — in fact, most of the time — it’s merely your anxiety’s defense mechanism. You pretend you don’t find your date stimulating only to give yourself a quick way out — a way to avoid rejection.
3. This person isn’t interested in/attracted to me. Newsflash, sunshine: most of your dates won’t work out. And most people will reject you. It’s the name of the game. You need to plow through the dense muck of “No’s” to get to the occasional “Yes’s.”
4. This isn’t working, I’ll be alone forever — I’m so lonely! Cut it with the bullshit, stop playing the victim, and keep reaching for the right person. Participate in your own rescue or get suffocated by loneliness.
5. What the fuck am I doing with my life? Relax; you’re dating. Don’t rush it, don’t try too hard, and don’t overwhelm yourself. Go with the flow, reflect on your mistakes and rejections, see what kinds of people you can meet, and don’t take it too seriously. More on all of this later.
Advice For Dating After A Breakup
The following is far from an exhaustive list. These are merely the dating tips and advice I find particularly important, listed in no particular order.
1. Become Non-Needy
While neediness is the root of all unattractiveness, non-neediness is the root of all attractiveness. The more needy you are, the quicker you’ll diminish your date’s attraction. The less needy you are, the quicker you’ll raise your date’s attraction.
But what is neediness? Neediness occurs when you prioritize your date’s perception of you over your perception of yourself. When you’re needy, you care more about what your date thinks, feels, and believes than what you think, feel, and believe.
And what does neediness look like? It manifests itself through behaviors done with unattractive intentions, like trying to cajole, manipulate, or force your date to give you the desired response or seeking their validation.
For example, a needy person will try to impress their date by boasting or subtly dropping hints about their financial success or fame. Whereas a non-needy person will genuinely try to get to know the other person and determine if they’re compatible.
2. Be Vulnerable
There is a dizzying amount of slimy dating advice out there. The kind of advice that focuses on tactics, tricks, and manipulation and completely misses the emotional realities of attraction and the thrill of meeting someone new. You’ve probably come across advice like that at some point:
Wait X amount of days before calling back. Never text twice. Pull away when your date pushes forward or makes a move (playing hard to get). Always end the interaction first, leaving the other person wanting more.
I want you to forget these things because they don’t fucking work. They’re pointless gimmicks that only do more harm than good. So instead of opting for them, opt for vulnerability.
Vulnerability is a touchy topic. Most people think of it as emotional vomit — professing your undying love for someone. But the truth is, that’s not true vulnerability. True vulnerability is much more boring. But also infinitely more powerful and sexy. And there are mountains of studies backing up its validity.
True vulnerability is when you unconditionally express your feelings or thoughts to your date. That is, without expecting a particular response. It’s when you unabashedly and without ulterior motives tell your date, for example, they’re hot or that you like them. It’s when you get out of your shell and actually risk rejection.
3. Take Care Of Essential Life Areas
1. Get quality sleep: no screens 1-2 hours before bed. Have a consistent sleep schedule: go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Sleep for 7-8 hours per day. Keep your room dark, cold, and with minimal disturbances.
2. Have a healthy diet: eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Eliminate or limit pasta, sugar, and processed and fried foods. Don’t be too hard on yourself but stay conscious of what you put in your mouth.
3. Have an exercise regime: running, lifting weights, hiking, swimming, cycling, etc. Just stay active. Do something to force your body into motion every day.
4. Take care of your hygiene: dress well, don’t go out with worn out, shitty clothes, shower daily, clip your nails, wash your hair — I know this is obvious, but I see too many people who look like little goblins after their breakup. Don’t be one of them.
5. Well-being: go on a social media detox. Stop reading, listening, or watching shit that pisses you off. Learn to say “no” to people — be more assertive. Take a break from work if you’re on the verge of burnout.
6. Responsibilities: child-rearing, studies/school, work, your own place — just don’t be one of those 30-year-old jobless parasites who still live with their mom and expect her to take care of them.
4. Know Where To Look For Dates
Before going out and meeting people, develop your own interests. And then those interests will guide you to fun places with events and activities aligned with them. And it’s there where you’ll meet the right people.
To unpack this theory:
- If you’re into health and fitness, you’ll likely go to places filled with health and fitness events and activities. For instance, gyms, popular jogging paths, and sports competitions and conventions.
- There you’ll meet other people who are also into health and fitness.
- Since you’re into health and fitness, chances are you’ll be attracted to those people and vice versa. Remember: similarities attract.
Or here’s an alternative example:
- If you’re a nerd like me who values intellect above all, you’ll likely be attracted to other nerds who value intellect highly.
- So your best bet is to stick to places like libraries, game conventions, cozy cafes, or erudite college groups when dating.
- The true beauty of this is that if you’re like this, you’ll automatically — even when you have no desire to date — stay near these sorts of places.
- As you’d expect, this dramatically increases your odds of finding a suitable date.
Just whatever you do, don’t date outside your demographic — that is, people with radically different values than you. This rarely works out. A few examples:
- If you’re an introverted philosophy lover and deep thinker, you probably won’t jive with the socialites from your average club & rave scene.
- If you’re highly ambitious and devoted to your career, you likely won’t have any sparks flying with people who spend most of their time playing video games and participating in competitive eating tournaments.
- If you enjoy the quiet solitude of staying home and reading books, you likely won’t have much chemistry with people whose whole life revolves around traveling the world and extreme sports.
Ultimately, while it’s fine to experiment with expanding your interests, never do it to score more dates. Do it because you’re curious about the expansion. Do it for yourself.
5. A Few Final Quick Tips On Dating After A Breakup
Start slow. Don’t put too much energy into your early dates, and don’t schedule a ton of them at once. You want to ease yourself into dating, and only after getting comfortable amp up the frequency of your dates and your emotional investment in the people you meet.
Don’t blame the dates, the night, the venue, blah, blah, blah… when you get rejected. Look. Sometimes your dates will just suck. There will be miscommunication, a crap ton of awkward moments, problems with logistics, no chemistry, etc. But there’s no reason to hunt down excuses. If you could be doing better, you could be doing better, and that’s all that matters.
Reflect after each date. This can be done through journaling, mediation, or sauntering. Whatever your preferred method, dwell on the following: How have you changed since you started to date? How have you changed since your last relationship? Are you repeating any sorts of unhealthy patterns from your last relationship? How is the flow on your dates — are you rushing things or taking your time? Are your dates displaying any red flags?
Heed the law of fuck yes or no. If seeing your date again doesn’t make you think, “fuck yes,” it’s a “no.” If committing to one another, isn’t a “fuck yes,” it’s a “no.” If doing anal in your town’s center in the middle of the day isn’t a “fuck yes,” it’s a “no.” (Click here to read more about this concept).
Don’t use your date as your therapist. Dating someone new isn’t about vomiting up all your emotional baggage — be that about ex-relationships, problems at work, hatred for the government, or your dating failures. Deal with your issues alone. Don’t complain. Don’t play the victim. Lighten up. (Again, click here to read more about this concept).
A few good dating locations to keep in mind. Park, bowling alley, dive bar, comedy club, arcade, road trip, museum, art gallery, zoo, carnival or amusement park, café/coffee shop, library, rollerblading, ice skating, wall climbing, golf/mini-golf, kite-flying, walking in the park, hiking, bowling, go-karts, sightseeing.
Engage smartly. If you’re normally chatty, try to hold off and listen to the other person. Whereas if you’re normally shy and reserved, try to take more initiative in the conversation.
Don’t display toxic vulnerability. Don’t reveal deep, dark secrets after just meeting your date. Don’t drone on about your ex, even if they enquire about it. And don’t trade fucking war stories. Grow the hell up. Similarly, if your date pressed you on your former relationship, I’d give an honest answer but then change the topic or say you want to talk about something else. No use in stirring shit. The point of a date is to have fun and hook up.
Avoid mindless chit-chat after your date. In other words, lay off the phone. Keep texting, emailing, and calling to a minimum. It usually only leads to miscommunication, awkward moments, and robs you of topics you could talk about on your date, making them dull and uninspired. As a rule of thumb: use your phone solely to set dates and deal with logistics.
Don’t rush things. Don’t just commit to a person after 2 or 3 dates. Stick to dating them for at least 1 or 2 months before committing. Get to really know the other person. Likewise, date them officially for 3-5 years before moving in together, lending them money, thinking about kids or marriage, etc.
Don’t allow yourself to be pushed too fast. If your date is rushing commitment and can’t slow down, assert your boundaries and tell them to pump the fucking brakes. The last thing you want is to get into a relationship unwillingly and with someone pushy or possessive.
Don’t obsess about the future. If your date goes badly, don’t fall for the bullshit that you’re unworthy of love suddenly. Conversely, if your date goes well, don’t fall for the bullshit that you’ve just met the love of your life. Stay in the present. Focus on the process, not the result.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up when you get rejected. And don’t start self-flagellating if you make things awkward. Nothing good comes out of these reactions. Try to hold off all self-criticism and pitying until you get home. And even then, don’t go crazy. Perhaps take out a journal and start writing down a reflection of your date — what went wrong and what you could do better next time.
Final Thoughts On Dating After A Breakup
Maybe you want to date casually, no strings attached. Maybe you want to experiment with polygamy and other alternative relationship configurations. Or perhaps you simply want to find that one special someone and “live happily ever after.”
Regardless of your goal, know this: to find success in love, you’ve got to become someone who actually brings something to the table and loves and values themselves.
This is why I always say that dating and relationship advice is simply self-development advice in disguise. If you don’t have an attractive identity, don’t have your emotional shit in order, and don’t value and love yourself, you’ll at some point sputter and stall out like a shitty car engine. And your love life will suck as a result. And misery will eventually ensue, engulfing you whole in an endless grey miasma.
In other words, cultivating healthy and fulfilling relationships with others starts with cultivating a healthy and fulfilling relationship with yourself.
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