Losing a girlfriend can be just as heartbreaking as losing a spouse, depending on the relationship between you and your former girlfriend, how long you dated and if you were in love with her. It sounds more serious when someone loses a spouse, but losing a loved one, regardless of the title, can be devastating. Jumping back into the dating scene can come with a lot of hurdles and bumps.
Stages of Grief
According to Helpguide.org, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified five main stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; however, everyone copes with grief differently. You may not go straight from denial to anger to bargaining. Instead, you might go from denial to anger and back to denial. Once you’ve gotten to acceptance, you’ll be able to have other healthy romantic relationships.
When you start dating again, you might feel sad, angry, happy or guilty. Many men and women have a difficult time conceptualizing how long they should wait before dating again. Some seem ready after a short period of time, whereas others take years to get past their grief. No matter how long you wait to date, you’ll probably feel pangs of guilt, wondering whether your girlfriend would approve, notes Andrea Sachs in her "Time" magazine interview with clinical psychologist Judith Sills. These feelings are normal, and you should allow yourself to feel however you feel.
When you start dating again, you should be kind to yourself. Go as slow as you need to. It might take time before you can allow yourself to fully connect to another person, because you might be afraid of losing another person you care about. During your first couple of dates with a new person, don’t bring up the death of your girlfriend. It might be too much for your date to handle. If she asks you what happened with your last relationship, you can tell her, but don’t dwell on it.
No one should judge someone for dating again after the death of a girlfriend or boyfriend. When a person starts dating again, it doesn’t mean that he’s finished grieving over the loss of his girlfriend or that the relationship didn’t matter to him. It doesn’t imply that he didn’t love her if he starts dating again soon. It might mean that he’s floundering, wanting companionship like he had with his girlfriend and desiring a close connection with someone again.
If you start dating too early—before you’re ready—you might end up feeling sad and hopeless. If you’re not ready, you’ll probably think about your girlfriend, how she would react to different situations and what she would say during the date. You might talk about her a lot, which can be uncomfortable for your date that you’re just getting to know. Dating might seem hopeless after a few bad dates. If this seems to be the case, take some more time before your next date.