Most of us enter relationships wishing for the best. More often than not, we date or enter into a relationship with someone thinking that it will last for a long time, if not forever. And that’s not naive or stupid—after all, science says our brains were wired for love, so if you have gone through a painful and rough breakup and found yourself broken up about it and afraid to try again because of it, there is no shame in that.
But first, you need to know if you’re ready to date again. Ask yourself:
- Were you able to completely close the last chapter?
- Do you no longer have feelings of bitterness or contempt towards your ex?
- Are you confident that you can make relationship decisions for the right reasons?
- Are you ready to put you and your needs first?
- Do you know who you are and what you need and want for your future?
If the answers to these questions are all yes, then congratulations, you’re ready to date again! Now the following are some pointers to start being ready to open yourself up to a relationship once again:
Take care of yourself by making your physical and mental health a top priority.
Before you can even think about loving someone else again, you must decide to love yourself first. Often, we tolerate so much toxicity in our relationship because we have never believed we deserve better. When you enter a relationship being secure and happy about yourself, you will never settle for a relationship or a person that’s unhealthy for you. Here are some self-care boxes you need to tick before you find another person to love:
- Taking care of your physical health, like exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, and maintaining good hygiene like seeing your dentist regularly.
- Doing regular mental health checks, like checking in with your moods, thought processes, and self-talk.
When you enter a relationship knowing that you can care for yourself, you won’t be asking your future significant other to save you, which will help you avoid a co-dependent relationship.
Know your needs.
If not downright impossible, it’s hard to build a healthy or enduring relationship if you don’t know your needs, what you want, and what works for you. This is not just true for you; it’s also true for your future significant other—both sides must come to the table, knowing exactly what they need and want out of a romantic relationship.
Write down a list of qualities you want for your future partner, and decide on your negotiables (qualities you can do away with, like facial features) and non-negotiables (qualities that you cannot compromise on, like integrity). At the same time, list down what kind of person you want to be for your future significant other. Write down your goals for a relationship. Do you want to get married? Have kids? Or do you want a lifelong companion, regardless of the level of commitment? When you know exactly what you want and need and what you can bring to the table, you won’t waste your time messing around with the wrong people.
Don’t be afraid to meet new people in different ways.
In the time of COVID-19, a lot of the rules that used to permeate the dating scene may not exist now. Before the pandemic, a bar may have been a great place to meet new people, but since establishments are closed or only accept a limited amount of visitors, the odds of meeting potential partners in these places are lower. Non-essential social gatherings like volunteer work and church are also prohibited in many states, so those options may be off the table for now, too. Keep yourself open to every possible way of meeting new people, whether online or through common friends. You never know what different channels can bring.
Take it slow.
Multiple studies have shown that being in love hits our brains the way some substances do—it enhances our mood, heightens our interest, boosts our self-confidence, and intensifies our consciousness. For this reason, we must be careful to take things slow, lest we rush into making long-term decisions based on short-term emotions. No matter how happy a new person makes you feel, you need to be objective and triple-check if this person is worth investing your love and your life for the long haul.
The pandemic has brought feelings of loneliness in many people, especially those who have been single for a while. Even if you’re ready to date again after a painful breakup, make sure it’s coming from a place of loving yourself first, so you can protect yourself from making decisions that may not be good for you in the long run.