Dating Expert April Masini

April Masini—one of America’s foremost internet dating and relationship expert, and author of the best-selling book, Date Out Of Your League, is continually sought out for her expertise and opinion by the world’s most widely read and respected publications. And now, with “Ask April”, her on-going relationship advice column featured on several of Forbes Magazine’s “Best of the Web” winners, as well as on her own web site (check out April Masini’s web site) April Masini was so kind to allow us to republish one of her columns. Enjoy!

Question: Dear April, I’ve recently gotten out of a long-term relationship, and want to start dating again. The only problem is I think I still have some lingering “issues” from my last partner, and don’t want them to negatively affect my future. Any tips?

Thanks in advance, Wanting to be Baggage-Free

April Masini: Dear Wanting to be Baggage-Free,

There’s no way around it: breakups are tough…at best. In fact, I’ve watched more than a few friends—friends who are smart and hot and could easily find another—stay in terrible relationships just to avoid the breakup. And then there are the others—the one’s who may be well out of the relationship time-wise, but are still very much in the relationship when it comes to matters of the heart.

But no matter what your story is (and believe me, everybody’s got one), getting through a breakup can be made easier and more effective. Plus, it’s a must-do for anyone who wants to find another—a better—relationship…or simply move on.

Just follow these five common-sense tips and you’ll be well on your way to living baggage-free.

1. Realize that even the best of relationships can come to an end. I think we have a tendency that once a relationship ends, we throw the whole thing into question. To think that its demise was a sign that what you thought was “real” (i.e.—your time together, love, etc.) wasn’t. But the truth is that good things—including relationships—can come to an end.

2. Recognize what lessons the relationship taught you. Regardless of whether it was short or long, contentious or amicable, each and every relationship has lessons for you to walk away with—lessons that will help you know more about who you are leaving it than when you entered it.

3. Rationalize your way into positive thinking. Look, we all feel terrible after it’s over, but sometimes the only way to really get better is to sort of, well…fake it. Think positively even if it feels untrue, and soon enough, you won’t have to force it at all. Create your own reality.

4. Refrain from playing the blame game. If you’re really serious about getting over your ex and moving on, you won’t wallow in who was right and who was wrong. Instead, take your blame (or guilt, as the case may be) and focus on turning it into a lesson to be learned (see #2).

5. Remain to the possibility of another. It can be hard to imagine after a breakup—meeting someone else and starting all over again. In fact, you may not be able to stomach the idea at all. But in time—and by following the four steps above—you will meet another. And this time, it will be better than before because you’ve done the hard work necessary to leave your last relationship behind, move on with the next, baggage-free and all.