Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

Ask Izzy: Dating after a breakup

Share this Post:
Photo by cottonbro / Pexels
Photo by cottonbro / Pexels

Ask Izzy is an advice column about relationships, mental health, and sexuality. Written by Isabel Mata — a Seattle-based lifestyle writer, podcast host, and mental health advocate — Ask Izzy offers tangible expert advice so all readers can have stronger relationships, better sex, and healthier mindsets. Submit your question today by filling out this survey

When checking the submissions for the column this week, I was surprised to find not one, not two, but three separate questions asking how to navigate dating after a breakup. The first one asked how to muster up the courage to date again after having your heart broken, the second one about how soon is too soon to start dating again, and the third about not wanting to repeat past mistakes that led to the breakup in the first place.

While there is no one-size-fits-all guide to dating after a breakup, I will do my best to provide insight that could be helpful to navigating this murky territory.

When I first started dating my now-husband Richard, I was fresh out of an unhealthy relationship. Only a few months had passed, and I was acutely aware that I probably shouldn't be dating anyone quite so soon. The mere mention of my ex's name sent me into a tailspin and gave me anxiety that only a sound bath and Klonopin could unwind.

Given all that, I knew Richard was special and that I wanted to give it a try. It was terrifying, because I knew it could end in heartbreak, but I also knew that there was a chance that it wouldn't. So instead of running away, I was very up front with him about my situation. While he could have dipped the second he learned of all my baggage, he didn't. He was patient, kind, and supportive of my healing journey. I had hit the jackpot.

The reason I share this story is to make it clear that relationships can be messy, and with that messiness comes a complexity on how to move forward. But humans are incredibly intuitive, meaning that on some level, you will know what the best course of action is for you. It's the same gut feeling that told me I wasn't ready for a relationship that told me when I was.

If you are worried about what future partners will think about you dating so soon after a long-term relationship has run its course, be transparent. There is no perfect amount of time to wait, but it could potentially cause problems if you jump in before you are ready. In the case of my Richard, there was more than one occasion where I overshared and broke a few boundaries that ended up causing some tension in our relationship, all because I was worried I would lose him if I needed more time alone. If I had just trusted my gut from the get-go, I probably could have saved us some tears. But then again, I wouldn't be where I am today (married!) without taking that risk.

The answer that all these questions about dating after a breakup have in common is that it all comes down to self-reflection. Before dating again, I would take some time to journal about your romantic intentions, making a list of things you want in your next partner, and even the things you learned from your last relationship. If there are certain behaviors of yours that went into your last relationship not working out, reflect on them. Ask yourself why you behaved a certain way, and maybe even try and identify potential triggers for the future.

If upon doing this you realize that you are totally ready get your heart broken again, then by all means reactivate the app of your dreams and swipe away! But if you feel like one rejection could send you over the edge and right back into your therapist's chair, it might be worth it to wait a bit. Do what feels best, and the rest will fall into place.