This article was originally published in Match.com’s fabulously informative Happen magazine.
And after you read the first line, please know that I know that the best way to get over one person is to get under another…after you find them of course. I suppose the image is either too painful or too shocking for some readers to bear, and so it was cleaned up. But I trust that on here, you’re okay with the mess. Now, let’s get to helping any of you break-uppees get out of your mess, too!
Don’t spend the next month (or six) moping. Here’s how to do some ego-building—and get dating again.
You know what they say: The way to get over one person is to find another one. What they don’t tell you is that if you make wise choices about whom you date after a breakup, you’ll get over your ex that much more efficiently. To that end, we’ve come up with the ultimate do’s and don’ts of rebounding to make sure you have a smooth ride to your next, well, real relationship.
DON’T hook up with a friend or an ex. Sure, it’s tempting: You’re lonely. They’re there. But the short-term gain is not worth the long-term gamble. “Hooking up with a friend who likes you is easy, but it’s cruel to get his or her hopes up,” says Lynn Harris, author ofBreakup Girl to the Rescue! and msn.com advice columnist. After all, your friend may have been dreaming of this for years and will see your interest as a sign that you finally agree. Another scenario to avoid: drunk-dialing a previous ex for low-maintenance bonding. You’ll probably just wind up reliving the same unpleasant situations that split you two up originally. And you’ll just endure more pain when you decide the rebound has run its course, because you’ll have to deal with a second breakup.
DO mingle with people beyond your usual circle. “Meeting someone outside of your social circle allows things to naturally develop,” says Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a Los Angeles psychologist who specializes in relationships. You are free from connections to your ex—not to mention reminders of him or her. Plus, just putting yourself out there and meeting people in new ways is an ego-boost. Says Danielle of Montclair, NJ: “After my boyfriend of five years broke up with me, I decided I needed some new hobbies and signed up for a hiking club and furniture-refinishing classes. Not only did I really improve my skills on both fronts, I met a bunch of new guys.”
DON’T hook up with people who work in your safe havens. We’re talking about the hot, flirty bartender at your local watering hole. The sexy assistant behind the counter at your gym. The barista in the corner coffee shop you’ve been hitting (and hitting on) for years. These are the places you want to go to drown your sorrows (which — hello! — you’re going to need to do!) and kissing the staff there will only make you feel weird about going there in the future. “If you hook up with the gym person, talk about ruining your escape the next day,” says Harris. “‘Well, I’m going to head to the gym.’… ‘Me, too!’ The last places you want to feel weird are the places you go to relax.”
DO hook up with the opposite of your ex. “Stop and ask yourself, ‘Why didn’t my last relationship work? What didn’t I like about my ex?’” says Dr. Thomas. “Those are the real things you don’t want to repeat. Don’t go through all that trauma in vain!” Rich Davis of Franklin Square, NY, would agree: “I had a girlfriend who took everything that I did for granted. I opened her doors, paid for everything and she never said thank you for any of it. The rebound after that was a girl who appreciated that I was a good guy.” What’s more, “If the rebound doesn’t remind you of your ex, you miss your ex less in the moment, and can enjoy it more,” says Harris. Dating a different type can also remind you that it’s possible for you to break patterns. So if you’re used to dating serious brunettes, try an outgoing blonde. If you normally choose business managers, hang out with musicians instead. Your rebounds should remind you of what you didn’t know you were missing and make you feel happy to be single again!
DON’T cast off a rebound as a “can’t possibly work in the long term” connection. Why? Well, because sometimes a rebound can work. In fact, sometimes the fact that you’ve dismissed it as a rebound is precisely why it does work. “In rebound situations, your guard is down and your expectations are low, so you ease into it,” says Thomas. And since you’re being nothing but yourself, it may actually result in one of the most realistic connections you’ve ever made. So keep all your options open when you’re back in the big pond. “People tend to assume that the next person you date chronologically after a breakup is automatically a rebound,” says Harris. “But sometimes he or she is really just the next person you date, so don’t throw the babe out with the bathwater!”
Amy Spencer writes for Glamour, Maxim, and Real Simple, among other publications.