Ready To Date Again After A Breakup? Ask Yourself These Questions First

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It’s easy to lose your sense of self when you’re in a long-term relationship. When you’ve been with someone for months or years, you start to see yourself in that person and vice versa. Your lives enmesh, whether you’re living together or not, and you’re likely to share friends, interests and values – as well as a bed.

So when you break up with that person it can feel like a shock to the system in all kinds of ways. Who am I without the person I’ve been with for so long? This is the dilemma for this week’s reader, Mandy.

“I have recently come out of an eight-year-long relationship, and am feeling emotionally all over the place,” Mandy tells HuffPost UK.

“I’m lost about how to regain my sense of self now that I’m no longer part of a couple. Part of me wants to date again, but I don’t know how to tell if it’s coming from the right place. How can I know when I’m ready? And are there any ways to make a break-up less painful?”

Counselling Directory member Kimberly Tomlinson is on hand to help Mandy with this tricky but all-too-common situation.

How can you regain a sense of self after a break-up?

“Often, a relationship can cause us to lose ourselves in our partners and depending on the length of time you’ve been with that person, you might not know who you are outside of them, but you are an individual,” Tomlinson says.

So ask yourself: what do you enjoy doing in a day, week, month, year? You’ve always had your own likes, dislikes, hobbies, and interests so it’s about exploring, rediscovering, and reminding yourself of the things YOU enjoyed.”

Tomlinson expands on this: “Even if there were shared interests or new interests discovered in the relationship, who says you can’t do it by yourself or with a friend? Remind yourself you were whole before and will continue to be after. Lean into the things that make you feel good and are simply for your benefit,”

How can you emotionally detach ourselves from a past relationship or ex?

Tomlinson believes the first step to emotionally detaching is “being honest with ourselves about how we feel about a past relationship / ex-partner – with the emphasis on honesty.”

Ask yourself how you actually feel. “Not how you think you should feel because of the length of time you’ve been broken up or because your friends or family now have a negative perception of this person,” she says. “Explore how you feel about them, the emotional hold they may have on you and the emotional needs they / the relationship fulfilled.”

The next step, Tomlinson says, “is to go about finding new ways to meet these needs and the detachment will slowly take place.”

When do we know when it’s time to start dating again?

The starting point here is figuring out your current needs, says Tomlinson.

“Are you dating for fun, intimacy, to feel desired? Is it because you’re ready for a new person in your life or because you’re tired of crying over the old one. Knowing your reason may help you gauge for yourself if you’re ready because only you know the importance you put on dating or finding a partner.”

It’s about listening to you gut, she says: “The most important things is that it’s your decision and if you do start dating, but you don’t feel like it’s the right time for you, trust that feeling and take a break. You can always try again later.”

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