Every breakup is hugely painful no matter how bad the relationship was, or who decided to end things. And the suffering isn’t just in your imagination, because losing a long term partner activates the same brain circuitry that’s involved in craving and addiction.
Being alone is particularly hard because not having a partner means suppressing some very basic emotional and physical needs. This means that the only sure way to recover from losing a relationship is to start another one.
But that’s easier said than done.
Men are usually far more willing to go looking for a new relationship than women, and fall in love more quickly. But they also tend to have a smaller circle of friends and depend on their partners more for companionship. So while men tend to remarry sooner after a breakup than women, any setback in their search means they’re also more likely to despair.
And despite their deeper need for intimacy, women not only find getting started again more difficult, they also tend to have unrealistic expectations. Like wanting to find someone who has all the good points of their last partner and none of his bad ones. Which is a sure fire way of eliminating all the possibilities.
Women often worry that they’ll never feel able to let themselves get close to a man again, or that no-one will want them, especially as they get older. They worry about their weight and every slight imperfection, but actually men are just as anxious about their physique. And far less critical of women’s bodies than you might imagine.
Both men and women find the whole idea of beginning to date again pretty frightening. Everyone’s scared of being rejected and reluctant to speak up.
Today’s dating scene seems completely incomprehensible and what was exciting the first time around feels impossible now. But no one else has any idea either! Years ago dating really did have rules, but not anymore. So just follow your instincts.
For sure, dating does seem scary to begin with, but it’s also great fun. And the most important idea is really simple. Just take every opportunity of casually chatting with anyone new, either through the world of work or things you enjoy doing, friends of friends, or family connections. Because the more strangers you meet, the more likely you are to meet someone who’ll match your needs.
Make sure all your friends know you’re looking, only hang out in places where your sort of people go, quickly let go of a new date if they show any signs that you’re not really compatible, and don’t get pressured into anything that might create long term problems, like moving in together too soon, lending money, or getting married or pregnant before you’re ready.
Take your time and enjoy just being with your new partner. Until one day you’ll realise that you’re really in a new relationship.
And everything in your life has started to feel better.