Love Again: A Path For Men Dating After an Abusive Relationship

Some breakups feel like dying.

Breaking up alters your brain chemistry, and a bad one with an abusive person can leave you stranded and lost as to who you are.

Even if you don’t feel your emotions deeply, you can still be dramatically altered after a breakup. You’ll feel pain deeper than normal, and as you start to go through the process and rebound, you’ll feel pleasure more intensely than normal as well.

Everything will be chaotic, and it’ll feel like the intense experience you’re going through will never end. After a traumatic and abusive relationship, just pulling yourself together to go to work can feel like a burden.

How can you expect to date again? What about loving again?

We’ll get there, but first, I need you to do something very important: be patient.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you probably won’t be healed by the end of this article.

However, what you will have by the end of this article are essentially steps and concepts needed to heal and rebuild yourself after a traumatizing relationship.

To get started, here are the ten steps you will need to follow:

1. Realize (and Accept) That You Have an Experience

The biggest mistake that people (especially men) make after a traumatic breakup is that they completely deny their feelings.

They do not accept the reality that something bad happened in their life, and they do everything they can to ignore it.

They try to “rebound too fast”, they won’t talk about what happened, or worst of all, they downplay their emotions and make it seem like everything’s fine, when in reality, they’re suffering deeply.

Don’t be that guy.

The truth is that breakups alter your brain chemistry.

This isn’t me trying to convince you, this is me telling you. Something has happened to you.

This doesn’t mean you’re weak, it doesn’t mean you’re not a real man, and it doesn’t mean you are unlovable.

However, we can’t get anywhere until you accept that you are having an experience.

2. Figure Out Where You Are In the Healing Process

You need to figure out exactly where in the healing process you are.

Are you doing well? Not so well?

Don’t answer right away. Think about it.

Maybe you still think about her all the time, or maybe you don’t think about her at all, but you just have some toxic tendencies thanks to the abusive relationship. Wherever you are, we can help, but we need to figure out where you are.

This step is hard because it requires a great deal of self-awareness. It’s hard to figure out how well you’re doing.

Unfortunately, however, you won’t make any progress until you know where you are. You have to be your doctor on this one.

Here are a few things that help you identify how well you’re doing:

  • Mindfulness
  • Journaling
  • Therapy
  • Talking with friends about your situation

You can’t start healing till you stop reeling.

3. Spend Some Time Alone

The initial shock of an abusive relationship ending will hurt as much as the relationship itself.

The person you thought you were in love with will be gone, and there will be no one but you, your broken heart, your scattered mind, and a life full of possibilities.

Typically, a life full of possibilities is inspiring to a man, but it won’t be to you at the time. Instead of feeling inspired, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed and beaten down.

The biggest mistake men make is trying to run from this feeling. They cower in the face of their pain, and because of this, they never entirely heal from it.

When you spend time alone – just you and your thoughts – you’ll develop the strength to face your darkest demons. You’ll become the man you need to be to love someone deeply again.

Don’t skip this step. Don’t look for distractions.

Learn to accept your pain. Learn to accept what happened to you. Acceptance is an essential aspect of recovery that most people ignore.

That’s why we’ve talked about it so much here.

4. Do Your Research

As you heal from an abusive relationship, you will likely realize that you need some help.

This could be as serious as talk therapy, going on a retreat, or taking time to yourself to process what you’ve been through. I’d recommend all of these things.

I’d also recommend doing some research on what experts recommend you do when you’re healing from a breakup. There have been literally hundreds (thousands?) of books written on things you can do when healing from a breakup.

You can start a new hobby, go travel, or simply just embrace your newfound freedom and discover who you really are and what you really want.

As you dig, you’ll begin to work your curiosity muscle, and when this happens, the possibilities that once overwhelmed you will begin to inspire you again.

After you accept your reality and figure out exactly where you are in the healing process, it’s time to start researching ways to improve your situation.

5. Take Action

Once you’ve made a plan for what you want to do to help you heal, it’s time to take action.

This isn’t the time to get cold feet, either. If you’ve made it this far, you better keep going. You better keep working on bettering yourself and healing yourself.

You owe it to yourself to commit to the healing process.

You only get one life. Are you really going to spend it in pain?

When you start to try to heal, typically, you want to give any sort of healing regimen a test for at least 4-6 weeks before you abandon it and move on to the next one.

Think about it like a workout program (which, by the way, you should be doing the whole time you’re healing).

6 weeks of therapy, 6 weeks of journaling, etc.

You don’t get healthy from one salad and you don’t get happy from one therapy session.

Take action, be patient, and watch yourself grow.

6. Don’t Rush

I was in an abusive relationship once.

The biggest mistake that I made after that relationship was that I started dating again way too soon. I had no business being out with girls, but I did it because I thought that was what a man was “supposed to do”.

That’s crap.

If you start dating again too soon after an abusive relationship, 2 things are going to happen, and neither of them is good for you (or the new person you start dating).

  1. You’ll hurt someone.
  2. You won’t have a good relationship.

If you don’t want to date, don’t do it. There’s a big difference between dating out of genuine interest and dating out of social pressure.

If you’re looking for something casual, that’s different, but we will talk about that in a bit.

7. Lean On Your Support System a Bit

You might be reading this and thinking, “I don’t have a good support system!”.

That’s a problem, and we have a solution for it.

Of everything I’m going to tell you in this article, the essential importance of a support system is the most important thing you can possibly understand.

You need a group of people who have your back. The modern world has been structured in a way that deprioritized social connection in the name of work, success, and the pursuit of material things.

Don’t buy into this crappy way of life. Be different.

Join a gym. Find a support group. Make friends.

If you don’t have a support group, I’m telling you this: you need one.

No one succeeds alone. Stop thinking you’re different.

“No one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.”– Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

8. When You Start Dating Again, Take It Slow

Being in an abusive relationship might leave you with some tendencies that aren’t ideal.

If you’re like me, being in an abusive relationship might make you incredibly avoidant, and you’ll struggle to connect with new partners. You’ll constantly be afraid of “reliving” the trauma that you already have been through.

This, while tragic, is inevitably going to hurt your chances of having the kinds of relationships that you want to have.

Worse still, being avoidant is actually going to feed your insecurities.

In other words, the more distant you are, the more insecure you will feel.

This is why it’s incredibly important that as you try to “love again” (or even just date again) that you take it slow. If you don’t want a serious relationship but want something casual instead, that’s okay, but you have to make it known.

You have to be clear about what you want and you also have to be careful

Don’t jump straight into the deep end if your trauma made you forget how to swim.

9. Open Yourself Up to Being Hurt Again

This probably isn’t the advice that you were expecting to hear, but as you start trying to have relationships again, this is the most important thing you can do.

Don’t do it before you’re ready, but eventually, you have to do it.

The thing is, by this point, you should be ready. You shouldn’t be skipping these steps – you should follow them in order.

This isn’t a random internet listicle, this is a step-by-step program designed to help you rebuild yourself after an abusive relationship ends.

Unfortunately, the nature of relationships is that sometimes, they won’t workout. Sometimes, if you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.

Some burns hurt more than others. Some breakups hurt more than others.

If you don’t want to risk getting burned at all, do not play with fire at all.

When you’re ready to date, date. If not, don’t.

Don’t waste your’s and someone else’s time because you’re in pain.

10. Forget the Past and Move On

By the time you get here, you’ll be basically in the clear.

Keyword here is “basically”.

Keep the checkered flag down, because you’re not done yet. Just because you’ve made a life without your abuser and started to rebuild does not mean that you’re ready for a pain free life.

You cannot truly move on until you have truly moved on.

This was the hardest thing for me to accept, and as a result of my struggle to accept this, I really struggled to move past this final step. I was stuck on my abusive ex for far too long, and I never moved on until I finally let her go for good.

You don’t have to be as drastic as me, but I had to burn her memory. I had to forget her completely.

This isn’t your average self-help dating advice, but abusive relationships are not your average situation.

Normally, I’d tell you to accept your past, move on, and try and make peace. When it comes to abuse, however, the reality is that you don’t need to accept the pain you’ve experienced.

You just need to move on.

I’ll say that again:

You just need to move on.

That’s it. That’s the whole thing.


If I had a time machine, I’d send this article to myself to read in the weeks after I got out my abusive relationship several years ago.

I could have saved myself so much wasted time, so much suffering, and so much anxiety. I could have given myself literally years of my life back.

But unfortunately, time machines aren’t real. I can’t go back in time and talk some sense into myself.

I can, however, talk some sense into you. Hopefully I’ve managed to do that throughout the course of this article.

Nonetheless, I know how lonely and painful the road can be after an abusive relationship. I know how lost you’re feeling, and I know you might want some extra help.

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