We’ve all been there: our hearts shattered so badly after a breakup that we never want to date again. No matter where you go, you find reminders of what you once had — the indie movie theater where you and the ex saw E.T., the “speakeasy” where you enjoyed a jalapeno mint julep, and the artisanal ice-cream place where you tried the lavender and rose flavors (together, mistakenly). Post-breakup, you try to drive different routes to avoid passing by the landmarks that conjure the exact memories that you’re trying to forget. Then there’s finding the ex’s phone charger in your car or bumping into mutual friends at a bar (or, worse, the actual ex). There is just no escape.
Except one, and that is getting the heck out of town. Maybe you’ve given yourself some time to mourn, but now you’re ready to get back out into the dating universe, and the only thing holding you back is the previously mentioned ubiquity of your former flame. Well, you can fly back to your hometown, lobby for a work trip, or just hit the road for a long weekend with friends, and no matter where you go, I can pretty much guarantee you one thing: They have dating there. And by either changing the distance parameters on Tinder, or the location settings in your online dating profile, you can find yourself a whole new tourist attraction (see what I did there?!). If you think this is a little nutty, because why would you want to meet somebody in a city you don’t live in, stay with me a moment while I tick off some of the little-known benefits:
1. You won’t run into your ex, physically or online.
Now’s the time to reactivate your online dating profile and reset the distance parameters to 10 or 25 miles to ensure you won’t see him or her pop up online, because isn’t that the worst? When you get an email that 2Hot2Handle is an 85% match with you, only to discover that it’s your ex and you obviously weren’t an 85% match. Of course, there’s always the offline alternative of meeting people the old-fashioned way — out and about.
2. This is basically an opportunity to conduct an online-dating focus group.
Now you get to see how singles in Chicago differ from singles in L.A., or wherever you currently call home. Do they suggest similar first-date places? Are the caliber of men or women better or worse? Do you and your date(s) have more in common here (i.e., value- and interest-wise) as opposed to where you live? I’m not saying you can paint a whole city of singletons with the same brush, but location can make a subtle difference, and besides, why limit yourself by geography? At the very least, you might get a different perspective and can reevaluate what you want in a relationship once you get back home.
3. The pressure is off.
Maybe you aren’t sure if you even want to date right now, or else you do but not necessarily as a means to a boyfriend or girlfriend. Either way, there is zero pressure. You’ll be leaving soon, so you only have a set amount of time together anyway. Whether you go on a few dates each with different people, or see the same person twice, there will be an expiration date. This is a chance to have fun and make your time count.
4. You can flirt with a new identity.
This isn’t to say that you were the problem in the last relationship or that you need to pretend to be somebody you’re not. But we all have our foibles, and maybe there are tiny things we’d tweak if we had a chance at a do-over. Perhaps you used to be that person who told their whole life story on a first date, never to hear from the guy again. Or maybe you hated your job and complained about it all the time, or felt defined by your friends as “the type-A one” (hey, somebody has to call ahead and make dinner reservations!). Regardless, we all need a little vacation from ourselves sometimes. I’m not suggesting radical self-invention or downright lying, but experiment a little. Try new things, like singing karaoke or paddle boarding. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up taking some of the new you home with you.
5. You have your own personal tour guide.
You have the advantage of meeting a local who is hopefully great at picking out cool, insider-y spots that the guide books don’t know about. Put the evening in somebody else’s hands and be surprised by the hole-in-the-wall restaurant or the secret bar. And even if you’re in your hometown, you can still be a tourist — there are bound to be new attractions since you last visited.
6. This is a self-confidence booster.
Far from the reminders of your ex, you are free to remember how awesome you are. From your quirky sense of humor to your thoughtful questions, you make a damn good first impression. And no one is around to point out your irritating habits/flaws. Even just talking to someone new lets you know that there are other people out there who find you sweet or entertaining or attractive or funny or all of the above. A little self-esteem boost never hurts anyone.
7. It’s educational.
For months before I started dating again, I tried to get my ex back, sending him articles on how he “gave up on love too soon” (yes, I am cringing as I write this) and suggesting we go to couples counseling before making this “drastic mistake.” Finally, I had to learn to wean myself off of him. I went cold turkey — I didn’t look at his Facebook page, I hid his and mutual friends’ posts, and I started to focus on the positive (non-ex) stuff going on in my life. Several months later, I went on my first post-breakup date in Chicago (I live in L.A.) and the guy, whom I’ll call him Mark, was nicer and cuter than I’d anticipated from his profile. At one point, we talked about old crushes gone awry. He told me a story about liking a girl and leaving flowers on her car. I asked what happened next. “Nothing,” Mark said. “She wasn’t into it, so I told myself, ‘Why would I want to date someone who didn’t want to date me?’” That one sentence helped me so much, and Mark had no idea. He and I spoke a few times after that date, but I had to return to L.A., so I did not get a chance to see him again. Why am I telling you all this? Because sometimes it’s the people who don’t know you, and therefore aren’t just trying to make you feel better, that end up consoling you the most.
Obviously, the only downside to all this would be making a supreme love connection with someone and then realizing there are 100 or 2,000 miles between you. But honestly? That’s pretty rare, so if it did happen… Let’s just say there are worse problems to have! In all other cases, you’re bound to have some fun in the process and you don’t have to worry about waiting by the phone for a call because you’re blowing this pop stand. In the very worst case scenario, you’ve acquired a good bad-date story to bring home to your friends as a souvenir. Anyway, I wish all you lonely hearts out there luck in meeting the perfectly pleasant, non-love-of-your-life-but-still-cool rebound date(s). Trust me, it works wonders!
[Image via here]