How To Know When It's Time To Start Dating Again

by Natalia Lusinski

How do you know if you're ready for a new relationship? Is there a manual someplace that can tell us? Can our friends or family? Or will we just wake up one morning and know it’s time?

“This wildly varies from person to person,” said psychologist Judith Sills, PhD, in this WebMD piece. “Everyone ends a relationship by grieving the emotional investment. For some people, that happens before they move out. Others are still emotionally married after the divorce is final.”

Time seems to be a common theme among therapists. Michele O’Mara, LCSW, PhD, said something similar to Sills on her site:

“People often ask, ‘How long should I wait before I date again?’ I think about dating again in terms of healing, not time. You are the very leverage that you can rely on to attract a partner. If you are not feeling good about yourself or about life, then work on getting your game back before you think about playing the field. When you feel good about yourself, genuinely good about yourself, get out there and start dating. Until then, do the next right thing that will lead you to feeling stronger, more interesting, more alive, and more lovable… When you ‘rebound,’ the issue isn’t the speed with which you move, it’s where you are emotionally and what you have to offer when you start your relationship. When we are broken, we attract broken. And broken doesn’t last as long as whole. In a nutshell, when you feel good about who you are and what you have to offer get out there and date. Until then, don’t worry about the amount of time it takes — focus on your next step to feeling better. When the time comes, you’ll be oh so glad you waited to dip your toe into the pool of dating.”

For some non-therapeutic advice, I came up with some points based on a lot of trial and error.

1. You Are No Longer Ruminating About Your Ex

You used to envision what your future kids would look like, and maybe you even used that iTunes app, Future baby's face , to put both your pictures in to get a preview (don’t go do it now, btw!). No longer obsessing over his or her every move (on- and offline) is a telltale sign that your psyche has been filled with other thoughts, like your friends or that hot guy you met at a party last week. Gone are the drive-bys past the ex’s house in the middle of the night to see if they’re home (or if someone else is parked in their driveway).

2. You Can Look At His Or Her Pic Without Getting Teary-Eyed

Yes, this will happen one day and will be an indicator that you can move on. (Also, why are you looking at his or her pics, anyway? Put those away! Don’t e-stalk them either!) Point being, of course, that the photos won’t trigger any tears, showing you that, emotionally, you are ready to start dating again.

3. You've Stopped Crying, In General

I knew you could do it! Maybe you weren't looking at his or her picture and tearing up, but you were sad and daydreaming about memories about the person, in general. No matter where you went, like the local grocery store where you two had shopped together, you found yourself in a puddle of tears. But, great news! That was the Old You. The New You is happy and not crying her- or himself to sleep anymore.

4. You Can Stop Yourself From Looking At Pictures Of You Two On Facebook, Instagram, Etc.

I know, you’re trying to move on and the pictures are still there, begging to be seen or stalked at 2 a.m. when you can’t sleep. But the new you doesn’t give in. You know that the more you don’t, the more you will continue to move on. (You can either hide the pictures or delete them, your call; do whatever it takes to focus on someone new, not live in the past.)

5. You Can Stop Yourself From Looking At His Or Her Social Media Accounts, Period.

That’s right, you won’t do it anymore. We all online-stalk someone at some point (dating or not, breakup or not), but when we don’t even have the inclination anymore, it’s a sure-fire sign we’re ready to start anew.

6. You Stop Talking About Them

The less talk of the ex, the better! We’ve probably all been on those dates where you—or the person you’re out with—goes on and on about their ex. Or they come up naturally, when you two are discussing something else and they think of an anecdote involving their ex. Or they compare you two (ugh). But when the day arrives that this doesn’t happen, consider it a signal that you are finally ready to move on.

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