These 3 Steps Will Help You Get Back In the Dating Game

OK, so you've done it. You've wailed and wallowed and binged on all of the things it is possible to binge on (documentaries about ancient Egypt, mini marshmallows, marinated artichoke hearts). And, for whatever reason, you woke up this morning (not afternoon!) and suddenly felt way less like stabbing the wall repeatedly with a screwdriver. Do you know what that means? You're starting to heal from that life-rending breakup, that's what. But are you ready for the next step?

The dating game is not an easy one to get back into. After a bad breakup, it's really, really important to take your time to assemble your players and set up the board before you roll the dice. This four-step program will help you figure it all out.

1. Do a little bootleg cognitive behavioral therapy

Waking up remotely less suicidal is great, but before you start booking your Fridays and Saturdays, make sure that you're at least over your ex enough that you can talk about the split. By "talk about the split," I do not mean talk about it like you would talk to your best friend at three in the morning while weeping all over a bowl of nachos. (Also: stop wasting nachos.) You want to summarize the reason for your breakup in a sound bite — a tweet, really — and you want to be able to get through it without looking even slightly sad.

It sounds a little Chicken Soup for the Soul, but practicing your breakup explanation can make all the difference between making out with someone outside your apartment or choking up over a bowl of pho. So sit in front of a mirror in your apartment and talk to yourself for a little while. Channel Hemingway if you can. And repeat the line over and over until it doesn't make you flinch any more.

2. Make a game out of it

Do all of these posts come with a tacit understanding that I am not a licensed therapist? Good. Hear me out: I think that, after you learn how to not cry on a date, you should figure out how to make it fun. The thing is, you're probably not looking for your next great love just yet. Also, approaching people is scary, and you're bound to have some lengthy silences with at least one dud of a suitor.

How do you fix that? You make a game out of it. Not a drinking game (at least, not until the date's over), but a game-game. If you're at a bar with friends, challenge them to see who can get the most phone numbers. Set goals for yourself about making the first move. Suggest to your date that the two of you order the spicy curries at the Indian restaurant.

And yes, when you do something like this, you run the risk of coming off weird and wacky. But if your game is fun for you, anyone who would be even remotely compatible with you should also find it fun, right? At the very least, you're likely to leave with a good story.

3. Use your network

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you might just scream if you have to sit through one more lecture about how all is networking and networking is all. So. You know. I'll just say that it's possible that your friends are unexpectedly good dating resources, and that you should consider seeing who they know.

Also worth looking into: the possibility that one of your friends is an excellent wingwoman. (The research process for this one is really fun; you just drag your friends to bars individually, drink a lot of sangria, and see if any good comes of it.)

Finally, you can try online dating. It's this pretty new thing that I doubt you've heard of beforelike dating, but on the Internet? I'll leave you to it.