Nothing brings on an emotional apocalypse like being ditched by the woman you love. It’s Cupid’s evil twin kicking you in the gut, and it seems the only option is to wallow in misery. With your confidence broken, it’s hard to face the world again.
The truth is, many have been there before and lived to tell the tale. We talked to relationship experts to find out the quickest and most pain-free way to turn your mindset around — because it is, after all, all about attitude — and get back on that horse. This is their advice.
1. Avoid the Rebound
“Don’t wallow in your bad feelings and then stagger out there before you’re ready,” says Tina Tessina, a relationships counselor and the author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again. “You’re just going to set yourself up for the same situation all over again.”
If you’re still feeling like a basket case, you’ll come off like a basket case, and that’s not the “you” you want to put out there. There’s a difference between allowing some time to let the wounds heal and pining over a lost cause.
2. Do Something Manly
According to David Wygant, a relationships expert and the author of Always Talk to Strangers: 3 Simple Steps to Finding the Love of Your Life, it’s important to get away for a weekend. “Book a vacation. I don’t care what your budget is. Go away by yourself or bring a great friend and do something manly,” he advises. “Go kayaking or sailing on a lake, go for a hike, go camping with the boys.”
Whichever activity you choose, the most important thing is to go with trusted buddies and to make yourself a promise. “You must make a pact that you will not weep the entire weekend about how much you miss her.”
It’s too easy to get in the habit of feeling depressed. Doing something manly serves as a reminder of all the other things we enjoy. It gives us the confidence to carry on.
3. Figure out What You Want
The healing process is about forging a new commitment to yourself and identifying your needs in a partner. “This is really important,” says Wygant. “Make a list of what your future girlfriend needs to be like — what she needs to look like, yes, but also how you want to feel around her, what you want to do with her. The clearer you are about what you want, the more fun dating is going to be when you get back into it.”
Without knowing what you’re looking for, you’ll keep walking into the same situation as before: “The same exact woman who is going to teach you the same exact lessons,” says Wygant. You don’t want to end up back where you started.
4. Take a Position — Serious or Casual
It’s worth developing the same kind of understanding for your current state. “Do you want to date casually for the next six months to a year and not get involved with anyone?” asks Wygant. “Then be good with that.” This isn’t a feeling to hide either. Girls will actually respect your honesty.
Whether you decide to keep things casual at first or look for a serious commitment, simply taking a position bolsters your confidence. It puts you in control of an aspect of your life that was earlier stripped away.
5. Now Get Back in the Game
Once you’re feeling good, you’ve considered what you want in a relationship, and you’ve identified your needs, it’s time to get back on that horse. “Pick five places where you enjoy meeting women,” suggests Wygant. These could be coffee shops, the gym, a running club, wherever. But remember: This is about recommitting to yourself and meeting like-minded individuals. Choose the places you’re comfortable in. “Those are the places you go to meet people because then you’ll always have something to talk about,” explains Wygant. “Then you won’t get frustrated during this whole process.”
6. Have an Abundant Mindset
Developing an abundant mindset is like always seeing the glass as being half-full. It eliminates your suffering because you believe that even better relationships will come. “This is not the end of the world,” says Tessina. “It may feel like it at first, but it’s just the first experience of many.” Or, as Wygant says, “This is not the only person in the world that is ever going to love you.”
So don’t feel down. Recognize the breakup as the opportunity it is: a time to reconnect with yourself and to determine your own path in life and love.
Sanjiv Bhattacharya is the author of Secrets & Wives: The Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy.