WHEN IT COMES TO DATING AFTER A BREAK UP, THERE ARE NO HARD AND FAST RULES, BUT THERE IS MUCH TO CONSIDER BEFORE TAKING THE DIVE AGAIN.
By nature, we’re not solitary creatures. We appreciate and desire connection, although what that looks like varies from one person to the next. The vast majority of us could never live alone out in the wilderness, though we may fantasize about that from time to time, or do so in moderation. While being in a relationship with another is often the desired choice, the divorce rate in this country alone is evidence that those choices aren’t necessarily considered our best work.
Nevertheless, we keep trying to get it right. Or is it the fear of being alone that strikes us as so unsavory? As a Relationship Coach, I see many different types of relationships. People ask me to come on board to help them to see if the choices they’ve made can actually work. Some take the decision to leave better than others, regardless of whether they’re doing the leaving or being left. The larger issue concerns what happens post-breakup, when people are left with — “What’s next?”
When does dating again “make sense”?
I’m often asked When does it make the most sense to start dating again? It’s a million-dollar question that comes with a million answers. Yet, is there such a thing as dating too soon?
I believe the answer is yes, though I stop short on specifying a time period, since the actual official end date of a relationship may have been occurring or been over for quite some time. I just ask each person to consider the following ideas, thoughts and concepts before taking another plunge, or even dipping their toes in the water.
Have you ever really been alone? Some people move so quickly through their lives that they often forget they’ve moved from one relationship to the next without so much as a two-minute time-out. Look to see if there is indeed a pattern of this behavior. It just may make sense to sit down on the sidelines and catch your breath for a moment, especially if what you’re looking for is not what you end up attracting.
Which leads to point number two: What are you looking for? Take a moment or two to ask yourself what you want this next relationship to look like based on where you are in life, who you are and where you’re looking to go. People often don’t take the time to see that they, and things, have changed, so they trade in one person for an exact duplicate. They are more likely to keep repeating this pattern if they don’t take the time to realize what they want the future to really look like.
There are no rules, but ages and stages in life matter
A breakup also needs to consider the different ages and stages in life that are present when the ending of a relationship occurs. Decisions we make at 20 are vastly different from those we make at 40 or even 50. Yes, we occasionally come across people who refuse to grow up, at least based on their choices, but that is not the norm. Men and women experience different things personally, professionally and physically that need to be considered when getting back out on the field. If you’re a 40-year-old woman who wants to have a child or a 50-year-old man who is done raising children, your choices must reflect those specifics wants and needs.
This brings me to my next point and one that I encourage people to take very seriously. If you’re getting back into the dating world after a long relationship or marriage and you have kids, you’re generally a bundled package. The choices you’re making now involve other people. You may be ready to date, but are they? This doesn’t necessarily mean putting your life on hold. It just may require you to be more discerning in your choices and more discreet in your time spent with that person before bringing your kids into the picture. Truthfully, I could devote chapters to this section, and perhaps I will at a later date. For now, make sure to be very conscious about putting kids into a relationship too soon.
The last and equally important thought you need to consider: Am I jumping into a new relationship or looking for one before I have processed the old one? The old one may also be several older ones and may have its origin in a less-than-distinguished relationship you had with a parent. Bottom line — if there’s a pattern of breaking and entering into a new relationship before you’ve done “your time” processing the upset and feelings from the previous one, you really need to pause, reflect and get some support before taking yet another hostage. Don’t use a new relationship as a drug to forget the previous one. It doesn’t work, at least not long-term. All you need to do is look at the bodies you left behind to prove it.