Failed love hurts.  And it hurts so bad that you might swear off marriage and relationships, loathe the thought of dating and close your heart and mind to finding love ever again.  The glass of life feels half empty, and you've just joined the unofficial Club of Love Pessimists.  Your reaction feels logical; after all, don't they tell recently divorced people to take an emotional time out and not to jump into marriage again?  Yes, don't jump into ANY relationship.  But stop dating altogether? Now that's a different story.

A typical Love Pessimist strategy is to let your love life flat-line. You adopt an armor of toughness and fool yourself into thinking that wanting love is a sign of weakness.  So you work longer hours, spend more time with your friends and children, resume forgotten interests and do just about anything that keeps you away from getting hurt again. Avoiding intimacy seems safer than risking what feels like a mortal wound from love's disappointments.

But when you force your love life come to an abrupt stop, then you are at risk for increasing your unhappiness. Here are the top reasons why turning off your heart is a bad idea.

  1. Remaining soured on love keeps you in Blame Mode.  Your mindset is fixed on the flaws and hurtful behavior of your partner, and the longer you focus on your ex, the less you learn about you.  Eventually, when you do drop your love guard, you might be bringing your old self again-a self who still might be angry, fearful, troubled or controlling.
  2. Dropping out of dating leaves you with rusty interpersonal skills.  You increase your discomfort with issues such as what to talk about or do, when to have sex or meet each other's children.  Most importantly, you let your people-reading skills go undeveloped.
  3. Avoiding dates and new romance robs you of the endless opportunities to learn about yourself, your needs and problems.   Through dating and intimate relationships we attempt to master, refine, improve and stretch who we are, who we aren't, what we like and don't like.  By dropping out of the world of love, you close the door on chances to grow, surprise yourself in good ways and overcome personal obstacles.
  4. Holding onto your negativity about relationships may not teach your children the right life lesson.  By simply giving up, you end up teaching your children to mistrust men, women and the world in general without setting an example for how to develop effective skills in life and love.

So, what should you do to increase your success in love next time?  Try these tips:

  • Examine your dating and relating history.  Can you identify any patterns or types of partners?  Seeing ourselves for who we really are is difficult. Get professional counseling.  Improving your understanding improves your chances at love.
  • Don't date in the hopes of finding your next love.  Change the goal of dating to learning to read people.  Get a book about people reading skills and apply them to observing your dates.  You might even good enough that you can predict their behavior.
  • Skip the romance in the beginning.  Go out with groups of friends, do lunch or brunch dates and activities.
  • Go out with people you normally wouldn't choose.  You might be surprised to see them in a new light.
  • "Kiss a lot of frogs," as the saying goes.  Cast a wide dating net and go out with lots of people.  You will learn more about yourself, your biases and your ability to read people.
  • Put yourself in situations where you can meet new people.  Go to free events, lectures or activities that interest you.  Make sure you say talk to other people. 
  • Aim for friendship first.  Take your time.  Real chemistry happens AFTER you know someone.