How to Cope When Your Ex Starts Dating Again

Woman looking at loving couple walking outdoor date hiding behind tree in park

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If your ex has jumped back into the dating world and you see them on the apps, it can be painful. It’s also challenging to handle the news from friends who report that your ex has started seeing someone else. It’s normal to feel down. You might wonder if you should be dating again, too.

Learning the news can affect you emotionally, so take a deep breath. You might feel a range of negative emotions from rejection to sadness. After all, you had high hopes for a relationship that didn’t work out. As the hours and days go on, it’s not uncommon for people to find difficulty concentrating on their work or routine due to the news.

This article will cover why it’s important to acknowledge and process your feelings, how to manage your feelings, how to assess if you’re ready to date, and strategies for moving forward.

Acknowledge What You Feel

While it’s tempting to sweep feelings of longing or hurt under the rug and just carry on, it’s better for your mental health to admit your feelings. Take time to process things. When you avoid dealing with what you saw or heard, it becomes problematic. Avoidance coping just creates more stress.

In a recent scientific study that explored avoidance coping, researchers found that passive avoidance coping styles such as resignation and withdrawal produced many maladaptive outcomes. These negative health outcomes included stress, anxiety disorders, and PTSD.

Some people feel shame about the relationship ending. Or they become furious with their ex and play the blame game. It’s better to view the situation with empathy in order to effectively heal.

Others who learn their partner has moved on react by lashing out in anger. If that’s you, think about the cause. Is it anger at the financial investment you made in the relationship by helping your former partner pay off their car?

One way to manage your anger is to focus on your thought process. Don’t engage in distortions, exaggerations, or catastrophic thinking. In this situation, that means you’d refrain from thinking they always get away with things or that you’ll never see that kind of money again.

Show Yourself Some Compassion

If you run into your former partner with a new someone, it’s best to keep the encounter brief and be polite. It’s naturally uncomfortable, even if it was your idea to break up or get the divorce. In fact, research confirms that contact with your ex-partner is associated with psychological distress. The participants in the study included over 100 recently separated adults examined over a five-month timeline. 

Besides feeling distressed, you might then go home and compare yourself with the new love interest. Your self-esteem could take a hit. After an unplanned run-in, you might even think your ex is more attractive than before. You might regret breaking up. Reconciling might come to mind.

Before you think about rekindling the relationship, remember you’re vulnerable and that there are reasons the relationship didn’t work out. For instance, their gaslighting or love-bombing behaviors were harmful and should not be tolerated.

It’s best to manage your feelings with a sense of self-compassion and forgiveness. Remember that you are both humans. Build resilience and recover from setbacks by exerting self-control, problem-solving, and seeking support.

Assess If You’re Ready to Date

People heal in different ways. If the breakup was recent and you’re still mildly depressed, be patient with yourself. Here are signs that show you may not be ready to date at this time:

  • You want to date because you feel empty
  • You want to meet someone because you’re lonely
  • You miss having sex
  • You are trying to make your ex jealous
  • You want a rebound relationship
  • You don’t take responsibility for your role in the breakup
  • You’re stalking your ex on social media
  • You’re trash-talking your ex
  • Your romanticizing or idealizing your ex
  • You're ruminating about your ex
  • You’re self-medicating
  • You’re isolating yourself from friends
  • You're keeping photos and mementos of your ex on view

Be honest with yourself about your readiness to meet someone else. Once you feel confident, happy with yourself, and empowered, you’ll be excited about finding someone new. That’s the time to date again.

Strategies for Moving Forward

Instead of choosing unhealthy coping mechanisms, like binge drinking, when your ex starts dating again, safeguard your physical and mental health. Just because your ex is with someone else doesn’t mean they haven’t grieved the breakup or that they don’t value you.

Here are scientifically sound ways to help you get over your hurt:

  • Build a simple self-care routine
  • Embrace nature therapy
  • Develop a meditation practice
  • Enjoy creative pursuits (like drawing, writing, and dancing)
  • Focus on your own happiness
  • Seek companionship and accountability through a support group

A Word from Verywell

Breakups can take a significant toll on your mental health and your daily routine. Reach out to friends or family members who can offer a new perspective and, at the very least, a beneficial hug. Hugs release endorphins, neurotransmitters that increase our feelings of well-being and pleasure.

Qualified therapists can also give you a safe space to explore your hurt about your ex moving on. They might recommend reframing techniques to help you shift your mindset. Common psychotherapies prescribed in these cases are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression after a breakup, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Allen MT. Explorations of avoidance and approach coping and perceived stress with a computer-based avatar task: detrimental effects of resignation and withdrawalPeerJ. 2021;9:e11265. doi:10.7717/peerj.11265

  2. O'Hara KL, Grinberg AM, Tackman AM, Mehl MR, Sbarra DA. Contact with an Ex-partner is Associated with Psychological Distress after Marital SeparationClin Psychol Sci. 2020;8(3):450-463. doi:10.1177/2167702620916454

By Barbara Field
Barbara is writer and speak who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues.