How to Tell You’re Ready to Date Again
Give your heart time to heal
Breaking up is heartwrenching, to state the obvious. Some people feel ready to jump into dating again immediately after a breakup, while others wait months, or years, before tey feel ready to take the plunge again.
Here's how to tell your heart - and soul - is ready to look for a new love.
Getting out of your comfort zone
One of the ways to know you’re ready to date again is when you find yourself more open to engaging in activities that take you out of your known comforting zone of healing after a break up. Meaning, you may say yes to an invitation to go out with some friends versus no and wanting to be home, said Lisa Bahar, a relationship therapist in Dana Point, Calif.
“You find yourself having some awareness of the relationship and the meaning it served you and how you are changed as a result of it, and you have accepted the reality that you are broken up,” Bahar said.
There’s really no set time to expect to be ready, since everyone is different, and it’s not based on how long you dated your ex, according to Toni Coleman, a psychotherapist and relationship coach.
This isn’t to say that breaking up isn’t incredibly hard sometimes. Even amicable breakups hurt, because no relationship was ever all bad. There was something good there, or you wouldn’t have been with him in the first place.
“However, life does continue,” said Tiffany Komba, a relationship coach and author. “There is an amazing life after a break-up if you're ready. Sometimes a breakup can lower one's confidence or self-esteem for a short time. You know when you're ready if your confidence is back.”
Komba added, “If you love yourself even without that person, can be happy without them, then you're ready. I don't mean a pretentious happiness just to secretly make your ex jealous, but a true happiness and contentment with the breakup. Are you still hopefully waiting that they will call or text you? If yes, then you're not ready. As far as a time limit to dating again, I would say a few weeks to a month just to make sure it's completely over and to give yourself enough time to heal.
Other signs you’re ready to move on, with combined advice from Coleman, Bahar and Komba:
- You are running towards something, not away from it.
- You are not comparing your ex with every potential person that comes along.
- You are not seeking someone to take away the hurt or make you feel whole again.
- You have grieved, feel good about yourself and what you have to offer and want someone to share it with.
- You want to meet that right person, not just find a relationship.
- You wake up with a smile.
- You have gone weeks without contacting them.
- You aren't still sleeping with their memorabilia every night.
- You are happy and content with yourself.
- You remove him or unfriend him from social media and feel good about it.
- You stop cyberstalking him.
- You stop making excuses to run into him.
- You can sleep through the night and not wake up feeling like something is wrong in your world.
- You don’t have to fill every moment with activity to keep from thinking about him
- You stop longing for “what was” and look forward to “what will be” in your next relationship.
Time alone is essential
Remember, after a breakup, you should spend time alone and deal with the pain and emotions you’re experiencing. Don’t try to avoid them by diving into a new relationship.
Sue Coleman, author of the new book, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, said that despite the pain, however, “You should still go out and do things by yourself and with friends, and as time goes by you'll begin to notice the pain subside. If you continue to live your life and embrace breaking up as a process and refrain from suppressing your emotions, you'll know when you're ready.”
Timing is everything
“I don't believe in a set time but I don't believe you should try to replace what you had right away either. Time will vary for each individual person and what the other person meant to them. Some breakups will hurt more than others, especially if you feel you've lost your best friend. It's not so much how long the relationship lasted - there are some people who will affect you more deeply than others. That said, I would base it on your emotions,” Coleman said.
Komba agreed, saying, “I personally think the longer the relationship lasted, the longer you will need to wait before dating again. You will need a longer time to heal because you spent a longer time being apart of that person's life and having them around. So, it will take some getting used to not having them around physically and emotionally.”
When it's too soon
Anita Chlipala, a relationship therapist, said there are definite signs that you’re not ready to date again:
- If you're looking for something wrong in your date. It's usually a sign that you're deliberately seeking a reason to break up with them because you don't want to get hurt again.
- If you're dating people who don't treat you well or don't want anything serious. You may be sabotaging or you feel "safer" because you know things won't work out anyway.
- You make comparisons to your ex. No one will be exactly like your ex, so if you make comparisons and feel sad and heartbroken all over again, you're not giving your date a real chance.
- There are so many variables that go into being ready to date again. For example, if you knew for a while that the relationship wasn't going to work, you may be ready to date right after it ended. If the breakup was unexpected, you may need to take some time to work through your emotions before you can give someone your best self.
- Also, not everyone who is dating is looking for a serious relationship. Some people date to get to know themselves better, to figure out what they're looking for in a potential mate, just want to have fun, use it as a distraction, want to explore the city, etc. Figure out your purpose for dating and then be upfront with the people you meet if it's less than a long-term relationship.
Listen to your brain, and your heart, and that will go a long way toward letting you know what is right for your personal well-being. Sometimes true love will come along when you least expect it, and from the unlikeliest of sources.