So how do you know when it’s time to hit the dating apps again? The short answer: “When you consistently experience more positive emotions than negative ones, such as you often find yourself laughing and feeling more like yourself,” Decker says. Another positive sign is when you consistently think of your past love life without strong reactions like intense anger or sadness.
Now, you may very well find “the one” or just have a great time hooking up even while you’re still in pain. Ultimately, though, dating will feel best if you’re looking to genuinely enhance your life—not just fill a void of loneliness.
13. Consider finding a therapist if you don’t already have one.
We understand that therapy isn’t accessible to everyone, but “having an unbiased, neutral, third-party observer is instrumental in gaining a deeper understanding of what happened, what your role was, and how you can learn and grow from it as you pursue future relationships,” Dr. Liner says.
Aside from offering you a safe space to express yourself, a therapist can also teach you effective strategies for coping with stress, anxiety, sadness, or low self-esteem. Through the therapeutic process, you’ll also gain the self-awareness necessary for forming healthy romantic partnerships down the line, Dr. Gundle says.
At what point, exactly, is it time to call in a pro? As a general rule of thumb, according to Dr. Gundle: After a month or so of not feeling any better—meaning that you’re still overwhelmed by intense emotions or continuing to isolate yourself from friends and family, she says. However, you should definitely seek help ASAP if you’re in extreme distress—as in, you’re “not eating or sleeping, missing or struggling at work, experiencing major changes in mood or personality, or having intrusive or suicidal thoughts,” Dr. Liner adds. (Not sure how to go about getting mental health help? This guide on how to find an affordable therapist is a good place to start.)
14. Finally, try to be patient and trust the process.
Last but not least, it’s important to be realistic and know that the pain won’t go away overnight, no matter how diligently you follow the above advice. So, as best as you can, just take it one day at a time, Dr. Orbuch suggests. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, but we promise you’ll feel like your wonderful self again eventually—and knowing that you can get through hard things might make you stronger than ever.
If you are struggling with feelings of depression and need someone to talk to, you can get support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or by texting HOME to 741-741, the Crisis Text Line. If you’re outside the United States, here is a list of international suicide helplines.