The temptation to ramble on about your ex no matter the conversation is real—I get it. They were a huge part of your life, and now you’re having to rediscover what it means to be single and independent.

But here’s the hard truth: if you can’t get over your ex and can’t stop comparing everyone to them, ultimately the only person who loses out is you. You’re holding yourself back from meeting someone amazing, and who genuinely deserves you. So today I explore 3 ways to stop yourself the next time you’re on a first date and feel an anecdote about your ex brewing.

Don’t rebound

We all long for a little validation from time to time—and that urge is never stronger than after you’ve gone through a tough breakup. And dating is fun, right? Well, yes—but only if you’re dating for the right reasons. If you’re going for drinks with people you have nothing in common with, or even seeing them on and off for weeks or months, just so you can ‘feel’ something—well, you’ll end up lonelier in their company than you would on your own. That’s the worst kind of loneliness. You don’t need to do that to yourself.

Instead, focus on what makes you feel good. Whether that means working up a sweat in the gym, taking yourself to your favourite cafe or indulging in a long and luxurious bath—do it. You deserve it now more than ever. And by practicing self-care and putting yourself first, you’ll become a more attractive and well-rounded individual when someone comes along with whom the chemistry really is sizzling.

Write a list of everything great about your new romantic interest

So your ex used to bring you breakfast in bed from time to time. Or helped out with rent even when they weren’t living with you. Or always gave you first dibs on Netflix. And this new person… Not so much.

But take a step back and think, ‘Why does that actually matter?’ After all, you’re not looking for a carbon copy of your ex—you need someone different, but just as good. (Or ideally even better, of course—more on that in a moment.) Do they take care of you when you’re ill? Ask after your family? Send a peppy text chock-a-block with kisses and encouragement when they know you’ve had a bad day? Enjoy these things for what they are, rather than seeing them only as items on a checklist to be compared against your ex.

Focus on why you broke up

We’ve all done it: you forget the rows, the heartache, the pain, and remember only the great things about being with your ex. Even if in reality those positives were only few and far between. It’s so easy to forget the nasty or thoughtless comments they made, tactless or manipulative ways in which they behaved, and reminisce with rose-tinted glasses about the sex, the date nights, the holidays. Forget those. Home in on the crap. Because regardless of who instigated the breakup, if you’re no longer together then chances are there was quite a lot wrong with the relationship.

If you don’t give this new person a chance, you’ll never know

The idea of letting someone into your life again in the most intimate way can be scary. Not only because it’s nerve-wracking to put yourself out there, but also because the prospect of spending time with someone who doesn’t ‘get you’ yet can be daunting. But of course, if you don’t give them a chance to get you, they never will. Sure, you wish they knew all your tics, habits and foibles as your ex did, but if you’re going to love again then you must go through the organic process of letting them get to know you—and of you getting to know them, of course. Because they might be feeling the same way!

Holding on to feelings for your ex is natural—it’s the logical hangover you’re going to wake up with after months or years of emotional investment in a person. Those feelings are a testament to how much love you have to give—but on the flipside, if you let them take over your life, they can ruin it.

So give it time. And if it’s right, before long you really can develop a warm and fuzzy feeling about someone who not long ago was a relative stranger. In no time you can have your own inside jokes, routines, and memories. And if you’ve recently gone through a breakup and want to find love again, or you’ve been single a while and you’re ready to commit to something serious with someone special—that’s where we come in.

Maclynn is an elite, multi-award-winning international dating agency.  Get in touch today, and meet your very own dedicated matchmaker who, among our vast network of attractive and eligible singles, will find you that one person who ‘gets’ you, who accepts and loves you for who you are—and whose highly specific criteria you also meet, of course!