You’ve finally emerged. Like a phoenix from the ashes (or a sloth from the duvet). You’ve crawled out from a haze of Netflix-binging and takeaway food and you’re ready to get back into the world like a normal person.
But you ask yourself: “Am I ready to date again? Or should I stay away from new men right now?”
When dating after a breakup, it’s tough to know whether you’re actually over someone, or if you’re just trying to cover up your feelings by jumping into bed with someone new.
If you date too quickly, you feel terrible afterwards. If you take too long, you start finding it hard to get back out there again.
So here is how to know if you’re in the sweet spot where you’re ready to get out there and meet someone…
1. You’ve stopped calling your ex
And texting…and stalking his Facebook…and occasionally googling his name to see if anything interesting comes up…
Basically, when you’re no longer tempted to reach out, you’re on the path to recovery. You may still have some residual thoughts about him, but you’re not trying to keep in touch.
That’s a start.
And it means that when you date again, you won’t be prone to any messy continued conversations with your ex that are going to mess with your head.
2. You’re not bitter/holding onto anger
Ok, if your ex cheated or did something heinous, then you don’t need to forgive him. But you do need to let go of your anger so that you can start from neutral again and not go into a new situation with emotional baggage.
For a while after a bad breakup, it’s natural to feel a little cynical, pessimistic, or just generally annoyed with the opposite sex and the whole dating scene.
But when you can let all that go, get perspective, and start fresh again with a renewed sense of optimism and hope, that’s when you’re in the best place mentally to get back into dating after a breakup.
3. You’re not desperate to get rid of loneliness
It’s very tempting after breakups to jump into the arms of someone new simply because you feel so alone. Or maybe you even want to grab the nearest partner on a subconscious level to prove that you don’t care about your ex anymore.
But if you haven’t learned how to be happy single, it’s likely you’re going to make all kinds of bad choices just to find another relationship.
Relax. Take your time. Allow yourself to work through the initial pain of being on your own and work on becoming self-fulfilled, instead of running back into the dating game to cover up your emotional pain.
4. You’ve thought about what you want
It’s always important to take stock of what went wrong after a breakup.
What do you need to learn for next time? Should you choose someone different when you date again? Are your values aligned with the kind of person we want to be with long-term?
Instead of just asking: “Am I ready for a relationship?”, ask yourself, “What kind of relationship should I look for?”
Think carefully about what you really need, and you’ll have a compass for attracting a new guy into your life who lives up to your standards, instead of drifting into the same type of relationship you had with your ex all over again.
5. You’ve reconnected with what matters
Friends. Work. Passions and interests. Even just taking care of yourself and making time for fun.
It’s important after an intense breakup to regather and get your sense of independence back by connecting to who you are.
What do you love doing? Who haven’t you seen enough of that you treasure in your life? What can you work on that will give your life meaning (with or without a partner?)
This matters, because it allows you to get a sense of perspective and realise that a relationship is just one part of your life, not your entire identity. Work on re-connecting to your life first, and you’ll be ready when that great new guy does come along.