“If you learn to really sit with loneliness and embrace it for the gift that it is…an opportunity to get to know YOU, to learn how strong you really are, to depend on no one but YOU for your happiness…you will realize that a little loneliness goes a LONG way in creating a richer, deeper, more vibrant and colorful YOU.”
~ Mandy Hale
It’s more a function of your state of mind and the healthiness of your emotional state than it is about the amount of time that’s passed since your last relationship ended.
Here’s how you’ll know if you’re ready to date again after a break-up.
1. You like yourself, you enjoy your OWN company, and you’re at a place in your life where you’re hopeful and optimistic about your future.
2. You’ve come to terms with all that happened in your past relationship, you’re grateful for the lessons you’ve learned from this and all of your previous loves, and you’ve accepted responsibility for the mistakes you’ve made and for your own shortcomings (yep, we’ve all got ‘em!)
3. You know who you are (your strengths and your weaknesses) and you’re also clear about the most important characteristics and qualities that you’re seeking in your future partner.
Also, from that long, long list of elements you’d ideally love to see in the perfect person, you’ve identified your Top Three Critical Criteria – helping you to sift and sort when you’re “out there” – if the person you’re considering meeting has these top three critical criteria, it’s a good idea to give that person a chance, even if item number 14 is missing…
4. You’ve got an action plan for your dating strategy. When we’re looking for a job or for the right apartment or home, we don’t just wait for the opportunities to come knocking, right? Same is true for finding a great relationship.
Julie Ferman, Matchmaker – www.julieferman.com
Breakups are tough, regardless of how the decision was made to end the relationship.
There is always some sense of loss. After all, you didn’t start off dating this person with the intention to break up with them, right? It also doesn’t mean that you will never date again, so there is an upside. But when is the right time to pick yourself up and get back on the dating horse?
Timing will vary from person to person, so instead let’s look at some key points to remember when getting back into the scene.
1. The Representative
We all know who this is. We have met The Rep many times and we have been The Rep ourselves. The Representative is the person who shows up for the first 6-8 weeks of a new relationship. This is when we are bringing our A game, putting our best foot forward, and being the best partner possible.
Keep this in mind when you meet your next potential suitor and you swear they are “THE ONE”. Everyone has flaws, everyone has skeletons in the closet, and no one is perfect. Take it slow until The Representative steps aside. Only then can you truly assess your compatibility.
2. The Rush
What is it? No, I mean, what is the rush? What is fueling your need to jump into the next relationship? Of course new relationships are fun and exciting (note: The Rep), but YOU are also fun and exciting!
Take time to date yourself, travel, cross some items off your bucket list, reconnect with old friends, volunteer, visit family, etc… Many happy couples share that they met their partner when they least expected it.
3. The Roles
While you are dodging The Rep and taking time for yourself, it can also be helpful to look at past relationships and what role you and your partner took on. You may notice a pattern emerging and can use this information to seek a healthy and happy relationship.
For example, do you notice that you feel you are always the responsible one in the relationship? Do you see your partners as being needy or irresponsible?
You may be dating people that put you in the position of feeling needed and validated. In this scenario, it may be beneficial to date someone who you feel is independent and responsible. This could lead to equality and mutual respect, as opposed to neediness and codependency.
Relationships end because something, somewhere, is not working. Use the 3 R’s to avoid making the same mistake twice,… or three… or four times…
Brynn Cicippio, MA, LMFT – www.therapywithbrynn.com
As a counselor, I often have clients come to me after a breakup. There are processes we can do to help them heal the hurt and support them in getting them to hope.
A question sometimes posed after this work is: “When should I date again?”
The question I ask in return is. “How much do you love yourself?
On a scale from one to ten, with one being ‘not at all’ and ten being ‘completely and unconditionally.’ ” If a client responds with anything below a seven, I suggest they wait a bit; if it is eight or above I say “GO FOR IT!”
We attract people who treat us like we treat ourselves, and if someone does not like themselves very much, it will be impossible for them to be discerning. In other words, their relationship radar will be “off”.
However, if someone is in a healthy, respectful and loving relationship with themselves, they will naturally make better choices. In other words, if one’s self love number is high, they are more likely going to attract and be attracted to someone healthy, positive and appropriate.
From my perspective, there is no right amount of time to take, or not take, between relationships.
It is more about how we are in relationships with ourselves that should be our touchstone and indicator of “relationship readiness.”
So, how much do YOU love yourself? And what would you like to manifest next?
Dr. Tammi Baliszewski – www.tammibphd.com
A break up is a roller coaster of emotions under the best of circumstances.
Even when you know it was the right decision, uncomfortable feelings can arise. Whether it stems from loneliness or a general disorientation to your new single life, you can sometimes feel ready to move forward, when you are anything but.
It’s a very basic desire to have outlines, guidelines and definitive rules.
With specific protocols you can prevent mistakes and regret, but sadly, life is much more complicated than a one size fits all tenet. The good news, however, is that there is one way to truly ascertain your readiness to jump back into the dating pool…
You must check in with yourself and get down to the core of it.
Ask the questions, “Are you are ‘ready’ to move on and date because you have truly processed the loss (read: understand why it didn’t work and gained more information about who you are and what you need) or because sitting with those uncomfortable feelings is downright uncomfortable?”
Feel that it’s the former? You are ready to move on.
Get that nagging feeling that its the latter? You know it’s time to give yourself more time.
Only you will be able to dictate your ‘readiness’ but through an honest evaluation you will get your answer.
Allison Cohen, M.A., MFT – www.lifeissuespsychotherapy.com
If you are recently single, take your time to heal first from the breakup.
As with any loss, you have to go through a process of grieving, until you feel you are ready to get out and meet new people. It’s OK to feel afraid, sad, disappointed, hurt or embarrassed after a relationship gone wrong.
Unfortunately, if you don’t know how to identify your feelings and learn how to heal them, you become vulnerable to a host of negative thoughts, experiences and actions (i.e. drinking/eating too much, acting out physically, etc.) which are harmful to you or anyone in your life.
In fact, it’s not fair to a new partner or to you if you are dating on the rebound, trying to relive or forget what you had before. In other words, don’t jump into anything too quickly until you are really ready and also aware of your motives.
If you date someone too soon and get hurt without having done some self-healing, odds are you’ll be at a loss as to how to effectively restore your feelings of self-worth and dignity. To protect yourself from getting into this vulnerable situation, many women assume casual dating is the answer. However, that may not necessarily be the best solution for you.
So when you are ready, question what your intentions are for dating again.
Are you looking for a life-long partner, a casual companion or a quick fling? By knowing what you want, you can eliminate many men whose goals are different than yours. Plus, you will bypass a lot of the hurt, frustration and disappointment associated with dating. If you know your objective, you will make the experience easier, more successful and, of course, healthier.
All relationships should develop from a position of strength, not insecurity.
Often it’s useful to seek out professional relationship counseling or coaching to guide you to greater insight or support you in better understanding your feelings so you can move forward — at the right time. The end result will be enhanced self-development, personal growth and a healthy new relationship.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Determining how long to wait before dating after a break up is a personal, and individual, decision.
If you tend to isolate and retreat into a cave of fear after a break up, it may make sense to challenge yourself to go out with friends and accept a casual date or two fairly soon after a break up. This will allow you to try a different way of coping, and stay active and involved in a healthy social scene.
If you tend to jump from one relationship into another out of fear of being alone, it may make sense to challenge yourself to be single for a month or two. Spend time with friends, and make sure to spend some time alone.
Listen to that quiet voice inside you and see what thoughts and feelings come up.
Do things you enjoy, like hiking or reading or bungee jumping. Eat when and what you want to eat. Listen to your needs and reconnect with who you are so that when you date again, you have a stronger sense of self, and not just a sense of yourself in relation to someone else.
Alicia Keys shared in an interview that she named her son “Egypt” because she took a trip to Egypt alone, and it was the first time in a long time she had really paid attention to herself, and not herself in relation to everyone else around her. It was so transformative that she wanted to name her child, another truly transformative part of her life, after that special place.
When you do start dating, pay attention to pace.
If you tend to hold back and stay guarded for a long time, and that gets in the way of you creating connected romances, challenge yourself to be more vulnerable in relationships, in small safe ways. If you tend to throw yourself all in, and get very hurt when you break up, challenge yourself to slow the pace, and have boundaries around your time available for dating, and limit some of the content of what you share.
Save some of the more intimate, vulnerable details of who you are until later in the relationship when you’ve established trust that has been consistent for a longer period of time.
Dating can be a great way to explore your interests, your passions, and feel connected and accepted by people, something most of us crave.
But it can also be a place where we lose ourselves and care more about pleasing someone else, or getting external validation. Make sure that no matter how long you wait to start dating after a break up, you do it from a place of strength, self-respect and wisdom for creating experiences in life that will help you to grow into the best version of yourself possible.
Shelby Riley, LMFT – www.shelbyrileymft.com
Although some break ups are welcome, your relationship has ended and you are hurt. But what better time to rediscover who you are while you find the courage to love again! You’re bitter, confused, and convinced that you have accepted the disappointment, resolved your toxic angry feelings, have championed the emotional transition from grief, and want to start dating. But is this the right time?
Human beings are wired to connect, and you may feel the need to fill an empty heart, but understand that if you’re not ready, the probability of problematic interactions is high.
Ask yourself first if your basic human fear of being alone is misguiding your instincts.
And if there’s any chance you may be relying on someone else to boost your self-esteem, commit to relying only on yourself! The most wonderful relationship you can have is the relationship with yourself. So let the journey begin.
The fragile time after a break up is time to live in the moment.
Obsessing about the past, and feeling anxious about the future may motivate you to date too soon. Be honest with yourself. Why do you want to start dating? If you’re visualizing a rebound relationship to quickly ease your pain, be aware that most wounds don’t require a bandage, and certainly not until the infection has been taken care of!
Realize your vulnerability and understand that you have to completely let go of the past first if you want to enjoy a loving relationship that is not emotionally distracted.
It is your responsibility to embrace the journey of emotional healing and to do the required homework. If there’s a chance you haven’t moved on emotionally from the first person, you’ll find yourself emotionally involved with two people. So reassure yourself that it’s okay to hurt and it’s okay to not be in a relationship.
Being single is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the benefits of being independent. To do this, you need to understand who you are today.
Begin with a plan: Change your routine. Re-establishing some control in your life will feel liberating.
Schedule the time you would have spent with your mate on a yoga class, a book on meditation, your favorite physical activity, social interaction, and most importantly, some personal reflection. This is an excellent opportunity to resolve personal issues you have either ignored or have not been aware of in your past relationship.
One of the things you may regretfully understand is that in the past, your emotional, physical, and mental focus was invested into your previous partner, and your needs were sacrificed.
When your relationship crashed so did your sense of self! To address this, begin by being mindful and strive to create balance in your life. By consciously observing who you are, connecting to your feelings, registering your thoughts, accepting your emotions and tuning in to your body, you will become self-aware.
Reclaiming yourself will be enlightening! Consciously observe some of your greatest personality traits. Own them and love them! Mentally address any issues which may have played a key role in the break up due to their negative impact, and commit to change.
By examining how you interact in your relationships you will gain better insight, stronger intuition and a deeper sense of what your expectations and motivations are for the next relationship.
The brain adapts best to persistence, and repetition re-wires the brain to enable change. So practice being single. Create a lifestyle that reflects what is important to you. Prepare to be emotionally present in your next relationship by processing your feelings and letting go of what was.
Commit to being mindful of who you are and enter a new relationship not because you need to be loved but because you have made a positive choice.
You have been cut. And you have bled. In order to stop the emotional bleeding, strive to love yourself. When you can attest that you feel confident and happy, it is time to make space in your life for a respectful, caring and committed relationship. And remember, a healthier, confident you, will attract a healthier, confident mate.
Karleen Nevery, MTC, RTC, CPA – www.kitsilanolife.ca/karleen-nevery
How soon is too soon to begin dating after the breakup of a relationship?
It depends. Each person, each situation, is unique so there cannot possibly be any one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
This means that you have to go inside yourself, do some honest soul-searching, and look for the right answer each time this happens.
To help you focus your soul-searching, ask yourself these questions.
1. What does it mean to you to be in a relationship? In other words, what does it say about you, about who you are, about your value and worth as a person?
2. Conversely, what does it say about you to not be in a relationship?
3. What needs do you get met in a relationship?
When you get those answers, move on to the next set of questions.
4. What does it cost you to be in a relationship?
5. Are there better, healthier ways to get your needs met?
6. Are the beliefs you have about who you are and your innate value as a person holding you back? Making you settle, just to be in a relationship? Do they bring out the best in your or keep you living at a lower standard than you’re capable of? Is it time to discard some of those limiting beliefs and become your own highest and best self?
If you enter a relationship simply because you’re afraid of being alone, don’t feel worthy or valuable or desirable on your own, or because it hurts to be alone, then the cost of the relationship may be too high. You’re probably paying more than what you’re getting in return.
During the dark time of recovery after a breakup, try not to rush into another relationship.
Instead, use the time to heal, gather your strength, and become all you can be (Bonus: you’ll attract a higher class of man next time.) And, when the going gets tough, remember the words of Barry Manilow. “I made it through the rain, and found myself respected by the others who got rained on too, and made it through.”
Dr. Loral Lee Portenier – www.linkedin.com/in/loral-lee-portenier-phd-62897b17
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’ve all heard the saying that timing is everything.
Timing is the difference between making the train to an important job interview compared to watching it go past us. Timing also relates to our relationships.
Consider the train as a metaphor for your relationship.
You want to wait not only for the right train going to the correct destination, but you need to get on at the right time.
The Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” also applies to our relationships. Our past and our future relationships are not as significant as what we carry internally within us.
After a relationship ends, ask yourself:
“Do I feel as though I need to be with someone else to matter?” Be honest. Do you feel worthy even when you are alone?
It is too soon to be in a new relationship until you feel that you do not need anyone to be happy.
If a part of you feels that a void in your life can and will be filled in your future relationship, you will be sadly disappointed.
It is not until we have fully accepted what lies within us that we can be ready for a new relationship.
Wait for your next “relationship” train when the timing is right. You will be glad you did once you arrive at your beautiful destination.
Brooke Campbell, MA, RDT-BCT, LCAT – www.creativekinections.com
Do you think that people are done developing at age 18? 22? What is the cutoff for continuing to grow? I ask you this because relationships have a lot to do with personal development and growth.
If you think of it, your first relationship was with your parents or parental figures who raised you. This primary relationship was all about nurture, unconditional love, and to help you grow and experience your firsts – your first bicycle ride, first school club, first crush, first boyfriend/girlfriend – all this happened in the context of your family.
Your first relationships helped you identify who you were as you grew up.
I propose that this interplay between self-knowledge and relationship continues in adult romantic attachments. These are also potentially close and caring holding environments in which to develop our capacities.
We learn to know our own thoughts and feelings, to express them in a way that has integrity to our values, to see another person as separate and to understand that they have different feelings and thoughts.
We strive to become curious about them and to create a relationship environment that invites knowing one another deeply.
These are skills that we develop through practice in real relationships and carry forward with us into our next relationship if the current one ends.
With this framework in mind, one litmus test for when to start dating after a breakup is:
“Do I understand the developmental task that I was accomplishing with my ex?” If we do not understand that task, most likely the next relationship will be a repeat of that task or will in some way feel like being stuck, or taking a step backward, rather than progressing.
Here are some questions that will help you identify the developmental task:
– Was I learning that I can tolerate the conflict that comes with saying what I want and need?
– Was I learning to express myself in a way that is open to hearing feedback, flexible enough to find a way that works for both of us?
– Was it about understanding my father or mother’s unavailability?
– Was it about proving something?
Emerging from the dynamic flow of the relationship after a break-up, we are left with the question:
“Who am I now?” And also, “Where am I now?” Just as you might use your journal writing, vacation, or a retreat for reflection to consolidate a significant experience — a job change, relocation, a loss — the same is warranted at the end of a chapter in your path to finding a life partner.
Make sure that you know where you came from and where you are now, as well as where you want to get to next and what will help you reach your aim, before diving back into the currents and eddies of dating.
For support with self-reflection on relationships, I recommend the following reading:
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love (2010). Amir Levine & Rachel Heller. New York NY: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Coming Apart: Why Relationships End and How to Live Through the Ending of Yours (2000). Daphne Rose Kingma. San Francisco, CA: Conari Press.
The Ten Conversations You Must Have Before Getting Married (2007). Guy Grenier. Toronto, CN: Key Porter Books.
Dr. Melinda Douglass – www.drmelindadouglass.com
This is a tricky issue! Not because the truth is not clear but because it will be hard for most people to live it.
However, if you take the time to do the necessary work, your next relationship will not be more of the same but will instead be immensely better.
How do you know when to begin dating after a breakup? When you are completely done with the last!
Completely done does not mean still being married “but it has been over for a long time.”
It means divorced, or broken up, and all of the personal belongings exchanged, and whenever you think about, see, or communicate with your former partner, there is no emotional response within. I can already feel the gasping some may have at reading this! This tells us how far off the truth we are as a society. It is never a good idea to get over the last by finding a new one!
The reasoning is simple and the necessity is clear.
Even if a person is married and “it’s been over for a long time”, there is still an energetic contract in place. A marriage license is not just a piece of paper. In order to be free to date the energetic contract must be voided which is divorce.
Next, even though there is no love lost between the two of you when you think about your ex and feel anger, hurt, sadness, frustration, annoyance, disgust, etc.… you are not ready to date. These emotions indicate clear emotional ties to your past person which underneath is probably love.
Anger, hurt, frustration, and annoyance are kissing cousins to love; opposite sides to the same coin. The true opposite of love is apathy or being neutral.
There should be no emotional response at all when you routinely think of your ex. When we get into new relationships and emotion is still present from the past you are bringing the old partner into the new. Also, because you have not resolved the old, the new will be more of the same no matter how they seem at first.
The only way to have different patterns in our relationships is to clear the past.
Clear mean “I can think of you and all the stuff you did and still be happy and free.” How long does this take? It depends on how quickly the person works and the depth of the relationship. It can take years!
When I say that to people they reply, I am not waiting that long” to which I respond “why not?”
If there is a burning desire to find a new person that is a clear indication of needy co-dependence at work.
Cynthia Pickett, LCSW, LADC – www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/cynthia-pickett-reno
Breaking up can be the most gut wrenching, mind blowing experience that a woman can experience.
She often finds herself feeling undesirable and unworthy of love & companionship. Often many women are left with unanswered questions and will have to accept that they may never get the answers they so desperately seek.
So when the opportunity to love again or engage in a deep, intimate friendship comes along their fears of being left with a broken heart, being let down or experiencing great disappointment; cause them to pause.
So the question remains
a. When is it okay to explore the possibilities and entertain the idea of a new relationship?
b. When is it okay to allow yourself the chance to love again?
c. When is it okay to allow yourself to act on your attraction to someone you find desirable?
d. And when do you allow yourself the opportunity to involve your heart with the heart of another?
The answers to these questions are simple, yet very complex.
You will know that you are ready to entertain the idea of a new relationship, love again, act on your attraction to another, or involve your heart with the heart of another if one or all three of the following occur:
1. When you think of your ex and no ill feelings arise
2. When you no longer have the urge to cry over the loss of the relationship and
3. When you no longer linger on the bad times and can remember the good times with fondness and laugh.
There is no real time limit or an “aha” moment.
When the opportunity to love again or engage in a deep, intimate friendship arises and the “new person” is not being pursued (or allowing yourself to be pursued) to replace the “ex”, then and only then will you know that you are ready.
Wendy Whitmore, MS, LMFT – www.truthhealingevolution.com
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