The dating world has metaphors for everything: potential suitors are fish in the sea, intimacy is a baseball game, and love is a battlefield. That last one especially rings true when you’re moving on after a breakup. Every step is magnified and every decision is weighed more heavily than usual. When you’re trying to figure out what comes next, it can feel a bit like you’re stepping into battle, fighting for your heart.
Simply put, breakups suck. Ending things with a partner is like losing a close friend. They know you better than anybody, and you’ve shared many wonderful emotions and feelings and experiences with them. So when you’re going through something so sad, it makes it worse that you can no longer call upon that person for comfort.
Eventually, though, you start to heal. There’s no one right way to move on after a breakup, but the best thing you can give it is time. Inevitably, you’ll come face to face with the question: Are you ready to date again? It’s a yes or no question, but it doesn’t always have a yes or no answer. Rather, your reply will likely fall somewhere on a spectrum. It will be a yes or no, but caveated with conditions and explanations, because getting over somebody isn’t black and white.
There’s no magic formula for getting over somebody. No perfect number of days to wait until you’ll be ready to move on after a breakup. The healing process is different for everybody. There are many different factors at play—the length of the relationship, the nature of the breakup—and no two situations are alike. There are, however, some ways to check in with yourself that are universal. If you think you’re ready to start dating again, we can help you prepare for what to expect.
Consider your answers to these questions:
Did you take time for yourself after the breakup?
When you get comfortable in a loving, serious relationship, part of your identity shifts from “me” to “we.” It’s only natural—when someone is a big part of your life, they become a part of you. But when you break up, you lose the “we” and go back to the “me.” For a while after things are over, it might feel like you lost a part of yourself, so it’s important to shift gears and take care of your relationship with you. It’s the most important one you’ll ever have, so nurture it. Make sure it’s good and sound before starting the search for another romantic relationship. When your relationship with yourself is strong, it’s easier to let somebody new in.
Are you over your ex?
If the thought of your ex dating somebody else is totally crushing, you might not be ready to move on. If you’re still harboring feelings for them, it’s not wise to jump into something with someone else, no matter how relaxed or casual the romance is. Juggling feelings is difficult, and almost always ends up making a mess where feelings get hurt. That’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid.
Are you angry?
On the other hand, maybe you’re still thinking about your ex, but not in a romantic way. They can occupy your mind in a negative way too. If you’re angry about how things ended, you should resolve those feelings before moving on after a breakup. Otherwise, you run the risk of taking that old anger out on somebody new.
Are you moving on for you, or your ex?
It can be tempting to start up a new relationship to make your ex jealous. But if your intentions are more aligned with hurting them than helping yourself, it’s probably not a good idea. Instant gratification is seldom satisfying in the long run.
What did you learn from this relationship and breakup?
After a relationship ends, you are not the same person you were when you were in it. And that’s a good thing! You’ve lived, you’ve learned, and you’ve evolved. Embrace this idea and reflect on the changes you’ve made. If you’re realistic with yourself and try to understand why the relationship ended the way it did, you’ll be wiser and more prepared when you enter into something new.
As you start moving on after a breakup, revisit these questions from time to time. Your answers might change day to day, and that’s okay—it’s a good way to gauge how you’re feeling about things. Only you can decide when you’re ready to start dating again. And when you do, you can do it at your own pace. Getting back into the dating world doesn’t mean you have to fill your social calendar with dates or commit to anything. There’s no need to rush into a new relationship; you can take things slowly and work your way back in.