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Dating After A Breakup: How to Know If You’re Ready

A woman laughing and looking out the window who just started dating after a breakup.

Whether you did the breaking or they did, it doesn’t matter. There’s no such thing as a painless breakup. Haagen Dazs makes millions every year banking on the fact that you’re going to be in pain after your breakup. Sure, if you’ve only been together a few months, it might hurt less than if you were together 10 years. But that doesn’t mean, it doesn’t hurt.

When we’re in love, it can feel amazing. You have your person, the person you count on, the one who picks you up when you’re down, the one who holds you and kisses you, the one who pushes you out of your comfort zone. Often we call our significant other’s our other half. So when that person is gone, it can feel like half of you is gone too. It’s normal to want to replace that half with someone else, but that’s not fair to you or to the person who may fill that role for you.

Here’s what to ask yourself to know if you’re truly ready to date after a breakup:

1. What is it that I want most out of a date right now?
This is a good first question because it can help you distinguish what dating means to you in this moment. Are you missing the sexual aspects of being with someone? Then it might be that you’re not really looking for a date, per say, and want more of a hook up. Are you missing your movie buddy, your hiking buddy, your cooking buddy? Then maybe buddy is the real word to focus on here. We often feel like we lose our best friend when we break up. You may be looking for a new best friend. Are you missing going out and meeting new people and making intimate connections? Then you’re probably ready for serious dating.

2. How fresh is the break-up?
In most cases, you’re probably not ready to date if the breakup happened just this week. For some people, you’re not ready if it happened just this month. And some people feel better taking a full year off from dating. Only you can determine if the wound is too fresh. But if you can remember the breakup vividly enough that it’s causing you pain, it’s most likely a little too soon. There’s no shame in taking more time to be with yourself or to be with people you love, but not in a romantic sense.

3. Are there any underlying reasons why I’m trying to date right now?
There’s this terrible societal idea that says that people should win at breakups. It’s important to note that that’s completely wrong. Everyone is hurt by breakups, but they’re a necessary evil that helps us grow and find the right people we want to be with. It helps us find people who make us happy. But that happiness is not often found a day after a breakup. Just because your ex has started dating someone else doesn’t mean you have to too. We all move at different paces and it’s not wrong to take more time away from the dating scene, even if your ex isn’t.

Similarly, there’s another awful myth that says we need to get under someone to get over someone else. This is also not true and is detrimental to the person you’re getting under. It’s also detrimental to you, as sex can be an emotional act. When you’re already feeling emotional, piling on more emotion can lead to you needing to take even longer to heal and may lead to some regrets.

4. Am I excited about the prospect of dating?
Maybe you’ve been playing around on apps and even found someone you’re thinking about meeting up with. How does the thought of meeting that person make you feel? Are you excited? That’s a positive sign! Are you nervous? That’s pretty normal for a first date. Are you a little sad? That’s not a great sign. If you’re thinking about your ex or comparing this new person to your ex even before you meet, that relationship is not off to a great start. It might be time to rethink if you’re ready to date.

5. Am I ready to let someone new in?
We spend parts of our life with our partners that we just don’t show other people. They see things that no one else gets to see. They get to be a part of something no one else gets to be a part of. That level of vulnerability is beautiful, but, when it comes to breakups, it can lead to a lot of pain and lead to us to put up some walls. Ask yourself if you’re ready to work to break down those walls again. It’s hard to let new people in, especially when those walls were just put up.

Only you can really know if you’re ready, so communicate with yourself and listen to yourself. If a part of you is saying you’re not ready, remember that there’s no rush. Dating or finding love is not a race. It’s never about when you find your love. It’s about the quality of the love you find. And if you’re not ready to let someone in yet, you’re not going to find a love that lasts.

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