After a breakup, it's totally natural to wonder if it's too soon to move on or if it's already time to get back out there. You might go through a phase where you feel like trying to date again could help you get over your ex — or be a total disaster. If you do start to date again and you realize you were not over it, it can feel like a major setback, so make sure to really check in with yourself before you do anything rash.
The first thing to do is think about your last relationship and how it can help you move forward, because you don't want to just repeat old mistakes. "Every disappointment is a learning moment," Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, tells Bustle. "After the initial upset, review the dynamics of the relationship and analyze what went wrong, what you could have done better and what you learned. There's no need to give yourself a hard time about it. Just process the information, so you don't repeat mistakes."
Once you feel like you've gained what you can from your last relationship, it's time to decide whether or not you're really ready to move on. And really, it's pretty basic. There are only two simple things you need to consider: how you feel about your past and how you feel about your future.
1. Have You Let Go Of Your Ex?
Firstly, have you really let go of your ex? Like, actually let go. Being angry with them doesn't count. "Anger is a form of connection, but disinterest is a form of release. If they don’t pique your interest, you’re over them," April Masini, New York based relationship expert and author, tells Bustle.
It's important that you can feel disinterested, even apathetic toward them, before you start dating again. And that includes not feeling angry or jealous at the idea of them dating someone else. Sure, you might not love the idea of your ex with another person, but the idea shouldn't be making you flare up with emotions and rage. And, if you're really over it, you won't be pestering your mutual friends for information. "When you’re not curious, you’re not interested, and when you’re not interested, you’ve moved on," Masini says. That's it.
2. Are You Excited About The Future?
Just because you're over your ex, doesn't automatically mean it's time to start dating again. "Getting over your ex and being ready to be in a new relationship are often two separate things," Masini says. "That's why having a new partner with 'matching baggage' is a great way to find compatibility. Two people who've been through divorces often help each other heal, while forging a new relationship." But how do you know that you're actually ready to start dating again? Well, because you want to.
Dating should make you feel excited, even if it makes you a little nervous. More than that, it's important to feel mentally ready to get back out there again. "When you can get back to staying focused on important tasks like work without being consumed by thoughts of your ex, you are moving forward," Monte Drenner, a licensed counselor and life coach, tells Bustle. "You can tell when someone is truly over an ex when the heart and mind return to their pre-relationship state." So if you're feeling like yourself — rather than feeling like you're in some kind of breakup tailspin — you're good to start dating again.
Choosing the right time to start dating again can be tough, but there's never going to be one "perfect" moment. Instead, just make sure that you feel calm about your ex and excited about your future — that's what it's really about.