It's normal to feel unhappy, rejected, lonely and insecure when a relationship ends, particularly if you weren't the one to initiate the breakup, or were treated badly by your partner. Dating someone new can restore your faith in relationships and give you a glimmer of hope that you can find long-term happiness with a partner. However, it is important to have realistic expectations and be in the right frame of mind to start a new relationship.
Create a Better Future
Every relationship, whether a good or bad experience, can be a valuable lesson about love and life. Ask yourself how you may have contributed to the problems in your old relationship, suggests psychotherapist Jeanne Segal et al. on HelpGuide.org. Perhaps you didn't trust your partner and this created conflict. Perhaps you choose the wrong type of person to become involved with, time after time, such as needy women or men who are scared of commitment. This process is not about beating yourself up about your behavior or past choices, says Segal et al., but about analyzing these in an objective way to help you have a happier, healthier relationship.
Begin with Honesty
If you still have feelings for your ex, ask yourself whether it is fair to your new partner to get into a serious relationship. It may be better to date on a more casual basis until you are over your ex. Don't set yourself deadlines -- this will only make you feel bad if you haven't gotten over your ex by a specific time. Give yourself a limited amount of time to think about your ex each day, writing down your feelings about your ex in a journal and reminding yourself -- but not dwelling on -- the bad times you had with your ex, to help you move forward, suggests couples counselor Elly Prior on her website Professional Counselling.
Work on Your Relationship with Yourself
Don't expect your new relationship to meet every one of your needs. For a healthy sense of self-worth, you should be able to find validation from within yourself, says psychotherapist Mary Darling Montero on the Huffington Post website. Work out what makes you tick. Step out of your comfort zone. Take up a new hobby or do something adventurous, from going to the movies on your own to sky-diving for charity. Spend time with friends who make you feel positive, loved and supported. Set yourself realistic goals, such as running a 5K race or decorating your kitchen, and reward yourself when you achieve them.
Question Your Motives
Nobody can tell you how long you should wait between the end of one relationship and the start of a new one: Every situation is different. Take things at your own pace and avoid rushing into a "rebound" situation. Try to avoid what Darling Montero calls the "self medication train." It is not healthy to seek a new relationship to avoid addressing painful emotions associated with the breakup or because you are scared to be alone.
- Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images