When it comes to life after a breakup, it can seem like everyone around you is suddenly an expert.
Family members come out of the woodwork to tell you how they never really liked your ex. Friends tell you to go to the gym to relieve stress or get a makeover as if these things are magical cures for intense heartbreak.
And if you’ve just recently broken it off for good with your significant other, you’ve probably already had a well-intentioned friend tell you to “get back out there.”
At the same time, you’ve got other people telling you to take some time to “find yourself” and “enjoy life.”
So who’s right? How soon is too soon to start dating after a breakup?
The truth is that no two relationships or breakups are the same. So, there is no simple cut and dry rule for when to start dating after a breakup.
However, there are some things you should consider if you want to really give yourself the best possible chance of finding something real when you do start dating again.
Here’s what they are…
1. How long was your relationship?
This is the first thing you should consider before you decide if you’re ready to start dating after a breakup.
How long was your last relationship?
Most experts agree that the longer your old relationship lasted, the longer you should wait before jumping back into the dating pool.
If your relationship was a long one, you likely had a lot invested emotionally. That means you need more time to find your sense of identity again.
However, as I stated earlier there’s no cut and dry rule and each person and situation is unique.
Still, you should try to stick to these simple rules of thumb:
- Try to give yourself at least one-tenth of the length of your relationship before you start dating again.
- If your relationship was 5 years long, give yourself 5 months to recover.
- For a 10 month relationship, wait a month before you think about going on a date.
- For a 10+ year relationship, wait at least a year before getting back out there.
This might be too much time for you, or it might not be enough. The goal of this ratio is to simply give you a jumping off point to think about how long you might need before you are completely ready to move on.
2. How much did you invest in the relationship?
If you were married, there’s a lot of paperwork to handle when you divorce. On the other hand, when a relationship only consists of hanging out a few times a week for a few months, there are not many complications.
It’s hard to think about going out on a date if you still have to think about finishing divorce papers or handling child support or child custody issues.
And this is in addition to all the emotions that naturally occur during a breakup.
Make sure you give yourself time to process your breakup to-dos so that they aren’t a distraction when you finally meet that next special someone.
3. Do you want to talk about it?
When you think about going on a date, what would the conversation be about? What are the things that are most important to you right now? What about your life is it going well? What do you wish could be different in your life right now?
If the answers to these questions involve your ex or past relationship you’re not ready to start dating yet.
The last thing you want is to steer the conversation towards talking about your past relationship when you’re trying to get to know someone new.
They won’t like it, and will likely perceive it as you not being fully over your past relationship.
4. Do you check on your ex?
Here’s another very simple test on if it’s too soon to start dating after a breakup: Have you checked on your ex today?
Specifically, are you using social media or other means to keep tabs on your ex? If so, you’re not ready to start dating again.
Look, it’s completely normal to think about our exes from time to time as indicated by this study. But you shouldn’t find yourself wanting to check out how their lives are going every day or week.
5. Does it sound like fun?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does going on a date sound fun?
- Do you have the energy to get to know another person?
- Does it sound exciting to try something new?
If thinking about these things sounds stressful or like you have to force yourself to do them then you should probably hold off on dating.
Dating should be fun and adventurous.
If going on dates and meeting new people sounds exciting and enjoyable this is a key indicator that you’re ready to start dating after a breakup.
6. Consider why you want to go on a date.
One last thing that you should ask yourself is this: Do you want your ex to find out that you went on a date?
If the answer to this question is “yes” then you should ask yourself why?… Like really, why?
If you’re still trying to make your ex jealous then you definitely still have feelings tied up in your ex and the past relationship.
Whether those feelings are love, hurt, anger, or attachment, they are definitely there, and you need to resolve them before you start dating again.
Trying to make your ex jealous is not a good reason to start dating.
You should want to date to try something new and meet someone new.
It’s a time to explore new possibilities, not ruminate on the old ones. The thought of a new person should excite you in and of itself.
It shouldn’t be a weapon for revenge.
YOU don’t want to date someone who isn’t over their ex, so don’t date until you’re over your ex, either.
It’s not good for you, nor is it fair to your suitor.
Do yourself and your love life a favor. Just wait until you don’t give a damn what your ex thinks before you start dating.
In the end, what’s right for you is what’s right for you.
When the thought of going out with someone new sounds more exhilarating than it sounds exhausting, it might be time to give dating the green light.
Be sure that you’ve gotten rid of the remnants of your old relationship, such as moving your stuff out of the house, handling custody arrangements, finalizing a divorce if necessary, and selling any property you owned together.
Being ready to date doesn’t mean that you have to want to meet Mr. Right and fall in love immediately.
It just means that you’re ready to get to know someone new.
When your old relationship is in the past, your old relationship is where it belongs. When that’s you, accept the invite and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.