9 Tips For Online Dating After You've Been Through A Breakup

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Online dating can be tricky to navigate at the best of times, but if you just went through a breakup, the idea of swiping, messaging, and meeting new people can feel even more overwhelming. But is using dating apps after a breakup an inherently bad idea? Not necessarily — as long as you're sure you feel ready to get back out there and are aware of the do's and don'ts of online dating after a breakup, it can actually be a super positive experience.

"It’s important to get back in the dating scene," Meredith Golden, a dating app ghostwriter and dating coach, tells Bustle. "Don’t set out to meet 'The One' immediately, it’s too much pressure. Set your intention to meet some interesting people and see what happens. Most importantly — have fun!"

While it's OK to be optimistic about the future of your love life, expecting to meet your soulmate right after a breakup only opens the door for more disappointment and heartache. The key to success is setting realistic expectations, and not putting pressure on yourself to immediately replace your ex with a new partner. If you need a little more guidance, here are nine other tips for online dating after you've been through a breakup, according to dating experts.


Take Time For Self-Care First

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First and foremost, before you decide to start swiping again, make sure you take adequate time to get over your breakup by focusing on self-care.

"One major mistake people make after a harsh breakup is not spending time working on self-care," Justin Lavelle, Relationship Expert and Chief Communications Officer for BeenVerified, tells Bustle. "Not only is this needed to help with general happiness, but also to rebuild confidence and self-identity. Before you even consider online dating, take some time to work on yourself: start a new hobby, go on a mini vacation, meet up with old friends ... or anything that sparks your interest."


Start Off Slow

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If it's been a while since you online dated, don't overwhelm yourself by downloading a plethora of dating apps right away, or by swiping and messaging people 24/7 — because it's easy to get burnt out that way.

"Keep it easy, stick to one app, and start slowly," Golden says. "Ease in with 10 minutes a day Monday through Friday. Once the process feels manageable, then considering swiping more or adding a second app."


Keep First Dates Short

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When you're newly single, it's easy to get worked up over a first date, and put pressure on things to be ultra romantic and perfect. But you shouldn't romanticize the idea of a first date: instead, just think of it as a chance to meet someone new, and plan something quick and simple.

"Keep all first dates short, 20 to 45 minutes," Golden says. "No one wants to get stuck sitting through a long meal with a stranger, especially a boring stranger. Meet more people at shorter durations and save the meal dates for those you’re actually excited about."


Swipe With An Open Mind

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Post-breakup, it's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to find someone who's like a newer, better version of your ex. But even if you think you have a "type," try to keep an open mind and don't limit your search to people who are super similar to your ex.

"Be open in your search," Golden says. "Maybe in previous dating, there was a strict rule about only dating super athletic singles. Going forward, perhaps consider something new? Maybe include the person with two left feet, they might be the best cheerleader and partner even if they aren’t very athletic."


Specify Your Wants/Needs In A Relationship

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Before you start dating again, it's important to ask yourself what your intentions for your next relationship are — do you want another LTR, or just a hookup? — and then be clear about your wants/needs on your dating profile.

"Every person should re-evaluate relationships goals, wants, and needs after a breakup, especially if online dating is the next course of action," Lavelle says. "Most dating profiles have sections for you to express your desires and qualifications in a partner. Use this to your advantage. Leaving such information out may land you with an incompatible match or someone looking for a quick hookup."


Meet Dates Sooner Rather Than Later

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Although it might be a little scary, don't drag out the process of planning a date with someone you're interested in — just bite the bullet and do it!

"Meet prospective dates/partners as soon as you can — the sooner the better," psychic and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport tells Bustle. "If they don’t want to meet you or have excuses, move on because they are not really interested in meeting or dating you. The less you text or email the better... Excessive contact via email and texting prior to meeting will play into your fantasies of what you believe someone is like."


Focus On Improving Your Relationship Skills First

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Instead of thinking of dating as nothing more than a means to meet your one true love, consider each date an opportunity to improve your dating and relationships skills, regardless of whether you hit it off with the person.

"Focus on creating relationships and improving your relationship skills that have caused past relationships to fail versus going out with the sole intent of finding your soulmate," Andi Forness, online dating coach, tells Bustle. "You will find your soulmate when you have improved your relationship skills."


Don't Go On A Date Just To Avoid Being Alone

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After a breakup, it's normal to feel a bit lonely and want to fill that void with someone new — but you shouldn't be going on dates just to feel less alone, especially if you know deep down you aren't really ready to make a new connection.

"Though it's important to push yourself to meet new people, you shouldn't start dating just to avoid the grieving process altogether," Brianna Rader, relationship and sex educator and founder of the Juicebox Sex & Relationship App, tells Bustle. "If you are sad and need to be with someone, try reaching out to your support group or consider counseling to help you through a breakup."


Don't Talk About Your Ex On Dates

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Although there are some circumstances where it's OK to talk about your ex on a date, if you find yourself word-vomiting about your ex on all your first dates, that's a pretty big sign that you aren't ready to move on, and should take a step back.

"This should be a no-brainer," Rader says. "If you are still talking about your ex all the time, it probably means you shouldn't start dating yet."

When you've just been through a breakup, the first few dates you go on afterward are going to be a little bit scary — and you may even find that you're not truly ready and need more time on your own to heal. And although finding your next partner won't happen overnight, don't get discouraged: you can still enjoy the weird and wonderful journey of online dating until you eventually meet the right person.