How do you move on after a breakup, separation, or divorce? – A guide to getting back out there

Originally published on 10th October 2019 at 2:59 PM
Reading time: 4 mins
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Moving on after a relationship breakup or divorce can be tricky, especially when you’re thinking about getting back into the dating game. Dating expert Charly Lester, who is the co-founder of Lumen, the dating app for over 50s, shares her full guide for how to move on after separation and get back out there.

Give yourself time

One of the key tenets of dating is that you always need to focus on yourself before you focus on someone else. So, make sure you’re in the right space to begin dating again before you start meeting other people. If you’re not, it’s unlikely to be a fun experience for you or your date. A separation can really knock your confidence, so make sure you’re feeling solid and secure in yourself before joining the dating game again. You want to feel happy and confident in yourself, so that the next partner you attract is genuinely right for you.

Don’t look for a carbon copy of your ex

Often people come out of a long-term relationship and look for a very similar partner and relationship to the one they just left. However, we all change as people, and if you’ve been with someone for more than a few years, it’s likely that you changed a lot during the course of the relationship.

Consider these questions:

  • Who are you now?
  • What do you need and want now?
  • Your previous relationship didn’t work for a reason – can you work out what the issues were, and make sure that you don’t seek out the exact same thing again?

Keep an open mind and try dating a whole range of new people to see what works for you now.

Try not to talk about your ex

This can be tricky, particularly if your date has gone through similar experiences as you but try not to talk about your separation or divorce during early dates. It will just sour the atmosphere, and you should be looking forwards, not back. Use your friends as informal counsellors, not your dates. And if you find you really can’t stop bringing up your ex on first dates, then the reality is probably that you’re not in a space yet to be dating again.

Involve a friend

Friends can make the whole online dating process so much more enjoyable – regardless of whether they’re single themselves. Involve a friend right from the early stages of setting up your profile. They can be an honest sounding board when you’re choosing your photos and writing about your hobbies and how you spend your time. You can check in with them when you start talking to potential matches and then when you plan dates, there is always someone who knows where you are and for you to debrief at the end of the evening.

Top tip - try new things

One of the biggest complaints people have coming out of marriages or long-term relationships is ‘he never let me do x’ or ‘she never let me do y’. If there is something you’d like to do, but never had a partner for in the past, why not suggest it as a date idea? Active dates are a lot more fun than sitting opposite someone in a pub or restaurant, and they provide a lot more natural distractions in case nerves get in the way or conversation starts to dry up. And if you’re doing something you’ve always wanted to do with a date or partner, then even if you don’t end up attracted to your date, you haven’t wasted your afternoon or evening.


What is the average time to move on after a breakup?

There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer for how long it takes to get over a breakup, but Healthline’s research suggests it can, in general, take a couple of weeks to a few months (Raypole, 2021). Their study showed that most participants had “moved on” after 10 weeks. Yet, their conclusion was simply “it will take however long it takes”.

How quickly should you move on after a breakup?

The pressure to move on after separation or divorce is not healthy for people who have recently experienced a breakup. It will take however long it takes and rushing the healing process will only bury these feelings until they come back in a far more distressing or abstract way in the future.

How soon can you move on after a breakup?

If you feel ready to move on and your happy in yourself, there shouldn’t need to be a timeline or waiting period for when you can move on and get back out there. Some people who do feel ready still choose to wait a while until they restart dating after a separation , but again, this is completely up to you.

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