Have you escaped from a toxic relationship and are wondering if it’s time to start dating again? Getting out of a toxic relationship is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. It can leave you destroyed and exhausted. Dating after an unhealthy relationship can be complicated. The last thing you want to do is get into a relationship with someone else — someone who might just hurt you all over again.
However, taking a risk and stepping back into the dating world is a brave risk and an essential part of the healing process. Love and happiness are the goals, and you’re the only one who can reach that goal. But only when you’re ready. So, how can you tell when you are ready?
Here are 5 ways you’re finally ready to start dating after a toxic relationship.
1. You’re no longer obsessed with your ex.
I don’t mean to shut you down before we even start here. I’m guessing that you’re still thinking about your ex, especially as you consider getting back out there. Thinking about taking a risk, putting yourself back out there, and starting all over again will naturally make you think of the relative security of your ex.
I say “relative” — your relationship never really was secure, was it?
It’s essential that if you’re ready to date again after a toxic relationship, you have let go of your ex and the “security” that that relationship provided for you. It’s OK to still think about them, to some degree. However, the obsession that you felt about them needs to subside.
Why? Because if you’re still obsessed with your ex as you start meeting new people, you will only compare them to your date and shut yourself down right away. You most likely will only remember the good parts of your toxic relationship, and you will seek those in a new person. And that’s a recipe for disaster because if you find someone like your ex, you will only be repeating history.
So, make sure that you have let go of your ex before you put your toe back into the dating pool.
2. You know what went wrong.
A crucial part of starting to date after getting out of a toxic relationship is understanding what happened that made your relationship unhealthy. After finally escaping a toxic relationship, a client of mine couldn’t let go of the belief that everything wrong in the relationship was all her fault.
She believed that if she had only been more understanding, more sexual, and more supportive, then her relationship would have flourished. The reality of it was is that the toxicity was on both her and her partner. He was controlling, and she let him control her. He was rough in bed, and she shut down. And he needed her unconditional support, and when he felt that she didn’t give him enough, he was abusive.
After working with me, she realized that the toxicity wasn’t her fault. Instead, it was a combination of his abuse and allowing the abuse to continue. Knowing that she was a part of what happened but that it wasn’t all her fault made her more ready to let another person into her life. She knew that she could change her behaviors and reactions, which might save any future relationship from becoming toxic.
3. You feel good about yourself.
When you get out of toxic relationships, you often feel really horrible about yourself. Days, weeks, or years of abuse and gaslighting have led you to believe that you’re ugly, unloveable, and worthless. The kind of person who believes those things about themselves will only attract other people who feel bad about themselves.
If you’re struggling with low self-esteem, it’s essential that you do the work you need to do to feel better about yourself. Spend time with people who love you, do the things that you have always wanted to do, don’t obsess about the past but look to the future, and take care of yourself. If you feel good about yourself as you head back to the dating world, you will attract the kind of person who feels good about themselves, as well.
4. You’re ready to notice red flags.
Be honest. When this relationship started, you saw a lot of red flags, didn’t you? Maybe he told you about toxicity with his ex? Maybe you saw how controlling she could be? Or maybe you knew that he had no friends and an unhealthy obsession with you?
Did you ignore those red flags? Did you believe that if you only loved your person enough, you could fix them? Were you wrong? Going forward, make sure that you’re willing to recognize red flags and act on them. Be ready to walk away. Only by doing so can you find the kind of person who can give you the healthy relationship you seek.
5. You really, really want to date.
Dating is hard. It takes time and patience, and a willingness to make yourself vulnerable. If you want to date, you need to make sure that it is something that you want to do. Many people come to me thinking that they are ready to put themselves back out there, but for whatever reason, they aren’t willing to put in the time and energy necessary. They want to sit back and wait for people to come to them. They want to say “yes” to dates but then cancel. And they don’t have their heart in it 100 percent. And when they don’t find their person, they get disheartened and shut down.
So, take a good hard look at yourself and see if you’re really and truly ready to put yourself back out there. If you aren’t, don’t do it yet. You will only set yourself up for failure and that will only set your self-esteem back again.
Knowing when it’s time to date again after a toxic relationship is very important.
Doing so, successfully, so that you can find the love you seek. Make sure that you’re longer thinking about your ex all the time. Take the time to look at what happened in the relationship so that you don’t make the same mistakes again and be prepared to notice red flags.
Rebuild your self-esteem and don’t put yourself out there before you are ready. If you can do these things, you will be ready to date again, primed to find the person who can make your dreams come true.