When a long-term relationship ends–whether through a breakup, a divorce, or the death of a partner–the notion of getting back out into the dating scene can feel overwhelming. It’s common to experience a complex mix of emotions and to fear that you may never be able to recapture the way you felt in your previous relationship.
“Encore love is not about recapturing something old, but moving forward to something new and beautiful,” says Barbie Adler, a relationship expert and the Founder and President of Selective Search, a luxury matchmaking firm that takes a discreet, personalized approach to helping singles find love. “When approached with intention and purpose, it can be a deeply rewarding experience. You get to feel the excitement of new love while building off of the lessons you’ve learned from past loves.”
Following are four of the major signs that you are ready to begin dating again following the end of a previous relationship.
You Feel Like You’ve Processed Your Past Relationship.
The ending of a relationship is almost always an emotionally difficult experience, no matter how or why it ends. However, like any difficult experience in life, past relationships can teach us invaluable lessons about ourselves and set you up for greater success going forward.
While it can be difficult to reflect on the negative aspects of past relationships, doing so can help us understand our patterns and tendencies when it comes to being with others in order to really change and grow to be a better version of yourself than you ever have been. Being able to identify and work through these difficulties can help you avoid repeating the same mistakes when you do eventually get into a new relationship. Moreover, becoming aware of feelings–both positive and negative–that you still attach to your old relationship can help you avoid bringing old baggage into a new relationship, which is not fair to yourself or to the other person.
You Feel Excited To Get Back Out There.
Often, when you have been single, you may feel pressure to start dating again from a variety of sources–sometimes from friends, family, or society at large. It’s often said that pressure makes diamonds, but this does not mean that pressure makes strong, healthy relationships.
“As with any project as important and deeply personal as finding a relationship, the motivation to start dating again should be intrinsic rather than extrinsic,” says Adler. “If you force yourself to go on dates from a sense of obligation rather than genuine excitement, it will be much harder to find genuine connections, and you risk suffering from burnout. The more you enjoy yourself, the more your date will reflect that enjoyment back at you, creating a more fun, exciting, and satisfying experience overall.”
You Are Happy Where You Are.
This may seem counterintuitive, since we sometimes associate seeking out a new relationship with a desire for change rather than satisfaction with the way things are. However, working on yourself to the point that you feel happy, can truly feel that you love who you are, and are content on your own is a good sign that you are ready to love again.
When we think of ourselves as unable to be happy outside of a relationship, we underestimate ourselves and place a greater burden on our potential partners. Focusing on bettering yourself instead of depending on someone else for your happiness means that, when you do feel a connection with someone, you will be able to bring the best version of yourself to that relationship.
You Know What You Want.
This is one of the most important things to keep in mind when considering dating again. After a period of time of being single, it’s common to feel that you want to date again simply because you want to be in a relationship. However, you are much more likely to find a successful and fulfilling relationship if you are intentional and selective in your approach.
“Being selective means that you are staying grounded in your values and getting clear about what you want out of a relationship before you even begin dating,” says Adler. “Processing your past relationships can give you a strong sense of what your deal breakers are and what type of relationships you really thrive in. Knowing whether you are hoping to remarry or simply to find a close companion can help guide you as you begin to put yourself out there.”
Matters of the heart are not always predictable, but there are a few general patterns and principles that are evergreen when it comes to finding encore love. As overwhelming as it can feel to navigate the modern dating world, leading with a strong purpose and coming from a place of self-love helps ensure that you are able to find a partner who truly complements your own vision for your life. No matter how your most recent relationship ended, there is always the possibility that you will be able to write a beautiful second chapter.