It's complicated: Getting back in the game

“Should I put out a statement or something?” he asked, only half-joking.

Online datnig is one option for those looking to get back in the game post-break up.

Online datnig is one option for those looking to get back in the game post-break up.

“Something like, ‘Man, post long-term relationship, has resolved heartache, is ready to get back in the game. Not quite ready to settle, but will keep open mind. Now taking applications.’ What do you think - great idea?”

“Sure,” I reply, also only half joking. “I mean, you could just update your relationship status on Facebook –.” We laugh. We’d only just been discussing narcissism in social media and the immature online behaviour of our so-called ‘friends’. Surely the ‘[user X] is now single’ wall-blast qualified as such. Only megalomaniacs would be so look-at-me!

But the awkward pause that follows such hollow-humour had us squirming slightly. Though we’d been fashionably critical of the platform, there were no serious alternatives tipping our tongues – so was broadcasting the status of your love life really so tasteless? The poor man was actually facing a not unimportant quandary – there he was, ready to move on, and no clue what to do.

Hence, today’s subject; how do you relaunch your love life after the other one bites the dust?

One of the best assets to the newly single is their peer network. Especially in Australia where most of us tend to meet our future partners through friends, work or family. While it is likely intimates will be aware of what you’ve been going through, communicating your now-single changed status to people beyond your immediate social circle is tricky.

Yet through these people, and the people they know, may your new flame be found. Of course, unless they know you’re looking, how might they be found?

Facebook presents an easy solution. A simple status update alerts everyone to your newfound availability. But as we’ve previously discussed, there are a lot of reasons why this approach should be carefully considered before being executed. Not only might you invite a backlash, but you could foster tensions among the mutual friends you share with your ex, not to mention with your ex alone.

Perhaps a better way to go about things is to adopt a strategy familiar to effective job seekers. As the daughter of a human resources whiz, I’m well aware of the benefits associated with skills-selling, expectations management, buzz-words-ad-nauseum. Though perhaps it’s this well-worn mantra which is his most relevant; “Kate, it’s not what you know, but who”.

So, with dad’s job advice in mind, and the context of dating before us, here are a few suggestions about how one might remount that horse, pride intact. They’re designed to help get the word out, without using a blunt instrument.

1.            Refine your message – know what you want, and why

People say dating means ‘putting your self out there’. That’s true, to a degree, but it might be helpful to think of it as ‘putting your message out there’. Think about what you’re trying to say (ie. Single and looking to commit? Single and looking to meet people? Single and looking to ‘have fun’....). Too often people begin without thinking about where they want to go.

2.            Realise that your social network is bigger than you think (and is accessible offline).

Audit your contacts. Go through your phone and friends list, and take stock of how everyone fits together. Is there someone who may know someone interesting? Someone you once shared something with? Who are the people who could help spread the word to the right kind of people.

3.            Reflect on your communication skills, and communicate skilfully.

This means working on your attentive listening, body language, stress management and emotional intelligence. Once heeded, identify your best avenues of communication. Social media may play a part, but there’s nothing quite like face-to-face communication.

4.            Make contact – drop the message.

Start with your closest friends, and fan outwards – reason being they should know you best, and will be most sensitive to your situation.  Arrange to catch up so that you might make mention of your new position, and how you’re thinking of moving forward.

5.            Take the time to focus on building your relationships.

Whether they’re plantonic or potentially romantic, there’s no need to rush. This experience is about getting to know yourself, your friends and other people. It should be pleasurable, and leisurely.

And if all that fails, by all means, take out an ad, issue a statement or bomb your social media lists. But don’t say I didn’t warn you ...

How have you gone about getting back into the game post break-up? What lessons have you learned? Do you think a status update is a smart idea? Or do you think it’s best to branch out into new ground entirely – trying online or speed dating for example?

This story It's complicated: Getting back in the game first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.