It's a liberating feeling when, after a breakup, the tears finally stop and you feel ready to date again. However, those moments of excitements are often followed by dread and panic. You may fear getting your heart broken all over again. You may have been out of the game so long, you wonder what you've missed—and how it's changed. The breakup may have caused a blow to your self-esteem, making the idea of putting yourself out there frightening. But you've got this! Here are seven ways to get back into the dating scene, especially when it's been a while.
To begin, you don't even have to meet anyone IRL. You don't even have to go outside if you don't want to (although I recommend some sunshine). Download Grindr, Tinder, OkCupid, whatever dating app speaks to you, and just flirt a little bit. See how it feels. People ghost all the time on dating apps, so it's no biggie if you're not into it (or someone) and decide to delete the app. Or, you may like the flirting so much you feel up to a first date.
Especially if you're interested in dating again after a bad breakup, you may have been isolating yourself from a bit. While it's okay to take the time you need to recover, you must surround yourself with friends. Let them take you out. Go to a party. Just have some fun being around people you feel safe with so you can get used to socializing again. Remember, you're being reborn.
Talk to your friends. Not the ones that are insufferably happy and in love, but those that are also single and on the prowl. Ask them about their recent experiences. Have apps changed? Do they notice different patterns? Do they have advice? Just talking to and connecting with your other single friends can not only provide insight, but help you feel less alone.
If it's been a while, you may be nervous about having sex again. Do you have an old fuck buddy (maybe someone you're in touch and friends with) that you can hit up for healthy, casual sex? It doesn't hurt to get laid a few times before you start really looking. Sometimes we just need someone else's body inside of us to remind us that people other than our exes exist. Also, sex is a good ego boost, orgasms are great for mental health, so if you have someone you feel safe with, totally cash in that fuck buddy card.
This is important: reentering the dating scene is going to be a slow and emotional process. If you jump into anything too early, you risk shacking up with the first person who pays you attention, and when that doesn't hurt, the heartbreak causes you to relive all of your prior heartbreak—and then you're moving backwards, not forwards.
Take your time. Go slow. Listen to yourself, and what your body and mind are telling you they need. Just remember that if you need to move slowly, communicate this to the people you're dating so everyone is on the same page. We're trying to reduce heartbreak all around here.
There will be times when you're putting on a sequin ensemble and then you realize that you need to just sit on your kitchen floor and cry for a minute. You'll deal with creeps on dating apps, you'll have awful first dates. You may have a date, and then realize all you want to do is watch Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic.
Don't schedule dates for every night, spread yourself too thin, or ignore your body and mind. You'll end up crashing. After all, we're trying to get you back in the game and on your feet (and off the kitchen floor)!