After a breakup, how long should you wait before dating someone new?
How do you know if you’re ready to get into a new relationship?
April Kirkwood, LPC
Therapist | Author | Speaker
When is the Heart Ready to Love Again?
Research tells us what we’ve always known, you can actually die of a broken heart. Most of us, however, aren’t quite ready to die but we can come pretty close to behaving in all kinds of self-destructive ways that kill our self-respect. They often call that kind of disastrous and really embarrassing behavior after a breakup ‘rebounding.’
In truth, we are hanging on by an emotional thread looking for anything to keep us from falling into the imaginary abyss of eternal loneliness. We are so hard on ourselves and can be impulsively naive. After your honey moves out and it’s really over, it should take time unless. That is unless you were the one having the affair.
For the rest of us, though, we have to go about it taking baby steps if we are to move forward and find what we thought we once had or hopefully something better.
To assure you find the ‘right’ fit in love after heartache, here are the signs that you’ve finally found made it to the eighth square and you’re ready to re-enter the world of love’s enchanted wonderland:
Are you beginning to sleep regularly without tossing and turning trying to figure out what went wrong?
Lack of rest can make even the wisest person act weird and look haggard. Make it a priority to take care of your health.
Have you stopped totally blaming your ex for the separation?
Blah, blah, blah. If they are a whacko or jerk, the question to ask yourself is, “Who picked them in the first place?” Y O U! They can’t have been all that bad unless you have some serious issues yourself.
Have you done a thorough investigation of your part in the breakup to improve your relationship skills to be the best YOU possible?
You aren’t perfect or innocent in this situation. There are reasons why this fell apart. You need to figure them out. The cliche is right, “History has a way of repeating itself.” Stop any patterns in their tracks so this is not a rerun in the story of your love life.
Are you getting back to your normal routines?
That does not include cutting your hair, random hookups, or spending a year’s worth of your salary on clothes. The more you get back to your daily lifestyle the more endorphins and dopamine will kick in aka the better you will feel. Exercise, eating properly, and socializing with friends is more beneficial than you realize.
Can you see an ex with another person on the dance floor without having a meltdown?
Stay off social media. Please don’t lower yourself. It’s humiliating and someday you will regret it. Until you can see them with their new lover, try to avoid situations that could take you back to ground zero. It’s difficult to see others move on, especially when you’re not there yet. Don’t put yourself in agony.
Remember that things aren’t always what they appear. They may actually be miserable as well. Your grandparents probably told you this, “You can’t always judge a book by its cover.”
Can you focus on someone new without making mental comparisons?
That’s not fair to do to an innocent person who is genuinely interested in you. No one wants to be in the shadow of another, especially if it is someone you despise. Don’t mention your dirt right away. Psychologically this is a sure way to get someone to lack respect for you and actually replay the relationship you just left.
Are you able to laugh again and enjoy another’s company?
Having an attitude at dinner is only cute if you’re a toddler and even that is short lived. There is no longer a psychological specific date that mourning the loss of love is considered a mental health risk.
Stay with those who know and love your unconditionally during this time of grieving. There is no rush. Cry, scream, pound your pillow, love your doggie, but don’t do it when you are on a date.
From a spiritual perspective, people come in and out of each other’s lives to learn lessons.
Some are for you; some are for their benefit. Lessons in and of themselves aren’t pleasant. Focus on ‘your’ evolvement as a soul, as a human, as a lover. Think about any patterns between these other relationships? What is in this experience for you to know about your actions and reactions to love that may need tweaking? You will keep attracting the same scenarios until you get it right.
There is more love for you if you can open your heart. Each time you fall in love more deeply than the time before. Dry those tears and give yourself time. Love awaits.
Eric A. Williams, Ph.D., LPCS, LMFT, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor | Marriage and Family Therapist, Coastal Family Services, PLLC
Not all break-ups are the same. And not all break-ups feel the same. Some will be more like a “Thank you, Jesus” situation where you were trying to break this off for the longest, and they finally decided to let go. Others may be more like, “WTF??” where you didn’t see this break up coming at all. In fact, just the day before they were confessing their undying love for you, but today they are breaking this off and blocking your number.
And there are those that have been hurting you in some profound way via manipulation, lies, cheating, etc. that you knew you should have left before, but just could not or did not. And they blamed you and left you. In turn, you are feeling emotionally lost, numb, or in some type of sunken place. This is the challenge with break-up advice.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to getting into the next relationship.
Your last relationship, whether you want it to or not, affects how you enter the next relationship. But keep in mind your last relationship is just that, your last relationship. It will be difficult to go into any new relationship unless your emotions are in check.
Here are a few quick points to know you are emotionally healthy for the next relationship:
You are emotionally disconnected from the last relationship.
The worst advice I’ve ever heard someone share is, “The best way to get over a man is to get under another one.” Yeah, and that’s the best way to get an STD, an unwanted pregnancy, and more emotionally hurt.
You have to disconnect without using another partner. Are you still thinking about the good times with your last partner? Are you still crying occasionally over that person? Do you still look at their profile on social media or anxiously hope they will reach out to you? If so, you’re not ready. You want to be emotionally beyond this.
You are emotionally available.
Being emotionally available means you are living according to your purpose and passion. In other words, you have embraced the mantra that, “I build my relationships around my purpose instead of my purpose around my relationships.”
In other words, you’re emotionally attached to your own overall happiness than your happiness with a relationship. Take time to ensure you’ve reconnected with friends, have a stronger faith, and more focused on your mission and vision. And once those things are in order, you date to find someone that complements this happiness and support your life journey.
You know the qualities of your ideal partner.
You don’t have to seek perfection. Truthfully, you wouldn’t find it even if you did. Take time to develop the characteristics of the partner that fits well with your life.
We’re not talking about superficial qualities like height, skin color, car, or physique. We’re talking faith, relationship with money, awareness of their purpose, and their personal vision.
You may also want to explore how they define love, a healthy relationship, and how they handle conflict. Think long-term because every day in the new relationship is either a beneficial or wasteful investment into your future happiness.
Take your time before the next relationship to ensure you are truly ready.
Don’t allow the last break-up to define you nor your next relationship. Emotionally disconnect from that relationship so that you can emotionally reconnect with yourself enabling you to emotionally connect with someone else. You deserve to never be in a relationship that ended like the last one; therefore, make sure you don’t carry that baggage with you into the next one.
Dating Expert, Dating Scout
It depends on your emotional state.
Deciding when you should date again after a break-up is hard because there is no set-in-stone time period to follow. However, your emotional state will tell you when it is the right time to get back into the dating arena.
If you are still recovering from the breakup, it might be a better choice to wait and heal. If you still get hurt at the slightest mention of your ex’s name, you are still too hurt to be able to build a healthy relationship with someone new.
When you are no longer hurting.
You know you’re ready to date again when you no longer blame your ex or yourself for the breakup. Deal with your emotions and feelings first before jumping back into the dating scene because unsettled hurts won’t be healthy for you and your date.
How unfair would it be for the one you are dating if he/she has to deal with your emotional baggage from your previous relationships? So, take your time to heal until you’re sure that you’re not just dating to cover up the pain.
If you feel genuinely excited about going to that date.
You know you’re ready when you genuinely get excited about meeting someone new. During this time, you are already past the breakup blues. Everything is much clearer now. You should feel proud for pulling through it all.
You are motivated to be bolder and try something new. You now have a new perspective on life. All of these emotions indicate that you are now ready to fall in love—or not—again.
When the thought of getting back together with your ex no longer crosses your mind.
You know you’re fully ready to date again when you’ve already made peace with your break up. There are no more longing or thoughts of “what ifs”, thoughts of calling them in the wee hours of the night or wanting to talk your ex into getting back together. Depending on the reason why you and your partner broke up, getting into this stage can be challenging and could take some time.
When even the smallest of things don’t remind you of the pain anymore.
Of course, your favorite Japanese restaurant will still remind you of how he or she used to bring you takeout. Your all-time favorite coffee macchiato will still remind you of how he or she used to surprise you at the office because he or she knows how hard it is to deal with your boss.
Every single little thing you shared with each other will still remind you of your ex. And these reminders will hurt a lot after the breakup. They will crush you into pieces until you eventually hate them.
But when you start moving on, and you’re somewhat sure you have already moved on, try going for a drive down the alley and visit that Japanese restaurant, or go to a coffee shop and order a macchiato.
If that sushi or coffee can already make you smile, and the pain isn’t there anymore, you have moved on. You’re ready to start dating again.
Clinical/Community Psychologist | Psychoanalyst
The willingness to deal with and walk through your own conflicts.
As we find ourselves increasingly living in a “swipe” (left or right) culture, it becomes easier and easier to avoid some of the scarier aspects of actual relationship: intimacy, empathy, vulnerability and emotional investment.
Dating, especially as re-entry after a lost love, can be overwhelming—in large part due to the sheer volume of opportunities. Within that cornucopia of possibility, it is easy to exist in a state of being both in and out of range, ironically enough, forgetting what we want—and simultaneously do not want—from a long-term relationship.
With seemingly infinite options in the mind, we can easily imagine replacing others and being replaced by them. And this is not as simple—not as unequivocally ” bad” (or “good” as the case may be)—as it might seem on the first pass.
What does a mind—and a heart—do in the very center of the conflict of wanting love, affection, care and companionship versus wanting to protect ourselves from the anxiety of putting ourselves at risk for being fully known (and then rejected), accepted as we are (only to later be abandoned), and ultimately crushed? Regarding the navigation of this conflict, the end of a relationship is often a particularly challenging spot.
On the one hand, at such a time many elements of the conflict about wanting and not wanting relationship that is usually unconscious (repressed, dissociated and otherwise defended against) are more conscious (tipping us toward resistance to letting ourselves love and be loved).
On the other, in our hurt and sadness, we can be more responsive and receptive to the love and care of others (allowing us to access our own desire for love).
In the cross-hairs of that conflict, it is possible that some of our usual ways of (inadvertently) defending ourselves psychologically against the very things that we want loosen.
In other words, there are times that in the recovery from a lost love, we become more accessible to allowing ourselves to love and be loved than we are in general.
What is the time frame for this? I cannot say exactly. Though I’d say—based on my experience of the last two decades of seeing individuals and couples in therapy in NYC—that allowing ourselves to experience the time element of a return to love as an experiment is consistent with the larger issue of dropping our defenses and allowing ourselves to love—and be loved.
The “when” is less about when you “should” jump back in and more about a willingness to deal with and walk through your own conflicts so—cowabunga!
Dr. Jess O’Reilly
Author | Astroglide’s Resident Sexologist | Relationship Expert
There is no ideal formula for how long it takes to get over a breakup or when it’s healthy to start dating again. Trust your own intuition, but also consider the counsel of those closest to you.
Consider why you want to date (or not date). Do you want to date because it will show your ex that you’ve moved on? Do you want to date because you don’t want to be the only single person at a friend’s upcoming wedding?
These motivations may not lead to the same fulfillment as wanting to date because you enjoy the companionship and desire connection.
If you’re avoiding dating because you feel you need time to yourself, go ahead and take some time. If, however, you’re turning down dates that appeal to you because you feel you need to count a minimum number of days before you move on, consider being more flexible.
Take whatever time you need to enjoy being single and recognize that you don’t have to date or be in a relationship.
Many people are happier are their own and that’s okay too. You are likely to recover from breakup more quickly than you realize. And dating after a breakup can be healthy.
A 2014 study found that dating after a breakup can be good for your self-esteem and new relationships. Studies also suggest that dating can help you to overcome the pain associated with a breakup, stop being insecure about yourself and improve your confidence in dating.
Consultant | Coach
There is no one right answer to this question. So much depends on how long you were with your ex, why you broke up, who initiated the break-up, and how harmonious or upsetting was the break-up. Some people heal emotionally quickly, and some take more time. While there are no right answers, there are some wrong answers.
To begin with, it is best to not date immediately.
We all need time to process a relationship and a break-up. If we do not take time to process we tend to bring old issues into the new relationship. We do not want to punish the new person for our last break-up.
Next, avoid being pressured into dating.
Often our friends want to help us by introducing us to a new person immediately. They might want us to stop crying and grieving and think a new romance will solve the problem.
Avoid dating someone just like your ex.
There is some reason this relationship did not work out. Do not recreate it.
My best advice is to wait until you are done crying, and are comfortable being alone. This is always a good way to judge our emotional readiness. When we can be alone, we are ready to choose a person who is a good fit.
Spiritual Transformation Coach
There is no designated time frame in which a person should start dating again but there are dangers to dating too soon and waiting too late.
If I had to give a time frame, it would be from one to three months after the breakup.
However, the time frame still depends on you and if you feel like dating again will be a positive experience or if it will just make you feel like crap and miss your ex.
Dating right after a breakup can make you prone to desperate behavior and desperate behavior can lead you to do desperate things so that you can “forget about your ex.” All of which you will regret and make you feel even worse.
On the flip side, waiting too long to date may cause you to unrealistically obsess over your ex and idolize them.
You may start to feel like you will never find someone as good and that mindset will keep you from being able to move on altogether.
It is important to give yourself enough time to grieve over the breakup properly where you are self-sufficient and you feel fine on your own. Don’t use dating as a way to replace your grief because it may only intensify it.
Certified Divorce Coach and Family Lawyer
Knowing when you should date again is not something anyone apart from you can gauge. As simplistic as it may sound, you will know when you feel ready.
The ideal time to get back into dating after a break-up is entirely personal. The process of transition – adjusting to the change and starting a new chapter – isn’t linear nor is the timing precise. Everyone is unique and will move through the transition at their own pace.
Some time alone to process what’s happened can be healthy.
It is important to give yourself time and space to heal. Facing difficult emotions is often uncomfortable and dealing with them requires work. But the alternative – suppressing or denying your feelings – will limit your ability to truly move on.
Seeking professional support from a therapist or divorce coach will help you navigate the transition as quickly and smoothly as possible. Committing to doing internal work is also crucial to the healing process.
Adina Mahalli, MSW
Social Worker | Relationship Expert, Maple Holistics
The nature of the breakup will often affect when you should start dating again.
If it was a mutual, low impact breakup you might be more willing to open yourself up to new, exciting dating opportunities. If it was a tumultuous breakup or you were aggressively dumped, you’ll need time to heal before putting yourself out there.
Whatever the reason, when you should start dating again largely depends on your emotional headspace more than a specific timeline.
Self-awareness is a key factor in dating again. It’s unfair on both you and your new partner to start something when you’re stuck in the past. If you feel genuinely open to a new relationship, to the point where it excites you, then you’re ready to get back into the dating scene.
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
There truly is no correct time frame for getting back in the swing of things so to speak.
There are, however, some telltale signs that may guide you:
Were you the one who let go or where they? If it was you, you may be ready to move on sooner than if it was an unexpected surprise.
Do you feel like you are in a good place? Are you wanting to date for you? Are you seeking revenge? If so, you may not be emotionally ready to move on and could be risking more heartache.
Once angry feelings have left and constant thoughts of your ex have gone, it may be time for you to move into the dating world once again.
Founder, Cabernet Coaches® | Award-winning Author, “The Friendship Upgrade” and “Date Like a Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt & Advice Between Friends“
To avoid a rinse and repeat, wait on dating until it can be selected as a multiple-choice answer rather than as a reflexive response to dull the pain of relationship loss.
Sudden space and silences are uncomfortable and can lead to “space-filler choices,” options we value not for their utility and effectiveness, but for their proximity and ability to fill volume.
In the dating world, this can lead to cycling through the least of the worst available—the so-called rebound relationship. These are often our worst choices.
Post-breakup hookups tend to be when men and women cycle back to former lovers, indulge in an ill-advised workplace romance, or fall for the serial dater or online predator.
At best, there’s an opportunity cost to filling painful emotional space with a likely dead-end relationship. It’s a wallowing move that can prevent real healing and growth. At worst? A headline-worthy mess that makes the worst moments of the last breakup appears like an oasis in the rearview mirror.
For a better shot at a healthy romantic relationship, hit the pause button after a breakup.
Take time to build up your foundational friendships first.
You’ll make better dating choices when you have multiple connection options to choose from and you’ll be better equipped to grow into your best self, with or without a partner, which will attract a higher caliber mate.
You’ll know you’re ready when a new interest sparks your curiosity and motivation for growth rather than a desire to replicate or replace an old love.
Heal inward. “Check” yourself before you “Wreck” yourself!
Take the time to process your hurt, sit in your pain and journal through it. Reflect on your role in the breakup and take lessons from the demise of the relationship.
What will you do differently and what do you desire/require that is different? Digest what you have processed and reflected. Without growth, you will end up with the same person with a different face.
Build a relationship with yourself first.
Enjoy your own company, date yourself and be at peace with being alone. Learn your likes and dislikes, work on your goals, develop hobbies and passions, and focus on individual growth!
Many times, we focus on what a potential partner can do for us. Focus on being able to offer what you desire in a partner.
Licensed Professional Counselor
Try it out first before making a final conclusion.
This is a very common question often misunderstood by the individual and their support system. Some will say that you need to give yourself time to heal from the previous relationship before entering another.
This idea assumes that you are not ready for a new relationship because you are too emotionally attached to your former relationship.
Being emotionally attached or in some way connected to the past relationship doesn’t mean you are unequipped to enter another relationship.
Think about it. What if you knew what you wanted and gave 100% in the past relationship and that other person was unable to meet your needs or expectations. Does that mean you’re too broken to try again with someone else? It all depends on you.
I’m an advocate for those who don’t mind trying first before making a final conclusion. You will know if you’re ready or not until you try.
Just be honest with the next person if you feel things are moving too fast. Healing is a variable not a constant. Loss is apart of relationship building. It’s not that you’re done and moving on to the next but rather moving on and searching for what’s best.
Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Founder, The Marriage Restoration Project
It depends on the individual and the nature of the relationship.
In general, it’s not always advisable to date when you are on the rebound for a relationship. You may not be in the healthiest emotional state and may make choices that are not always in your best interest. You may be needy and enter in a relationship against your better judgment.
It also depends on how long you were in the relationship, whether you were just dating or were married, has children, etc…
These factors have an impact on how emotionally distraught you may be. If it was an easy breakup, it may not be problematic to begin dating right away but if it was emotionally taxing, it is usually best to give yourself some time to recover so you can go into the next relationship in a healthier state.
Dating Coach, Meetopolis
I’ve literally watched millions of people cycle out of relationships and make the decision to date again.
While there is a small percent of people who really aren’t ready when they venture back into dating, I suspect there are many more who are afraid to pull the trigger and propel themselves back into the action even though they’ve done the work to move on. They are gun shy, often in direct proportion to how deeply they were hurt by the outcome of their last relationship.
Once at Match, I got a call from a single woman complaining that she had only recently broken up with her ex and then found his profile already up on Match.
While she was upset to see him dating again so quickly after the end of their relationship, she was more upset to find that in his profile he had indicated that he had moved on 100% from his last relationship and felt completely prepared to date again.
She wanted me to take his profile down, as she said it was fraudulent. She knew for a fact that neither of them was ready to date again. I pointed out that he had the right to decide that for himself. We also discussed the fact that she herself had actually been using Match, which is how she found him.
There is no hard-fast rule about when anyone is ready to date again.
It’s a personal decision and not something we should presume we have the right to decide for others, including our ex-partners.
We don’t always know exactly when we are ready to date again. For some of us, it’s a trial-by-error process. We date a little, see how it goes and then decide to either jump in all the way, get out altogether, or continue to ease our way slowly back into dating.
Some of us are better able to move on from a prior relationship than others. Timing is very personal. Some people move on by doing a lot of work to process, understand and recover from a past relationship, while others like to move past a former relationship by sheer will and without a strategy.
These folks tend to jump in and out of dating as they encounter issues and situations they need time to process as they continue to heal and become ready.
Sometimes we are ready to date, but just a little. I think of this as practice dating. We might be fine grabbing a coffee or a glass of wine with someone, but we’re not sure about romance, sex or actually getting back into a relationship. This is fine.
Sometimes being ready to date happens when we meet the person were willing to take a gamble on. We jump in and don’t worry a lot about our degree of readiness. In some instances, we are getting ready as we go.
The only “rule” I’ve heard is that when coming out of a serious relationship, generally a marriage, you will need to stay single and work on healing for at least half the length of the marriage.
I’ve actually seen people follow this rule, although it simply doesn’t speak to anyone’s personal experience.
If you’re not sure you are ready to date again, in that you don’t think you can make someone else an important part of your life and invest in opening up and connecting with him or her, then you probably aren’t.
Divorce and Health Coach, The Separation Project
I truly believe people know in their gut when they are ready to date again. It does depend on what they want out of dating and everyone is different in their reasons for dating.
Overall though I do believe the following:
“Turkeys attract turkeys”. If they are feeling hurt, needy and insecure, that is probably exactly what they will attract.
“Eagles attract eagles”. If they are healed, confident and feeling good, that is probably what they will attract.
Personally, I took dating completely off the table for an entire year, to give myself time to heal, build up my confidence and deal with my own separation by putting the priority on myself and my children.
The first year of crazy divorce change is defiantly a rough ride. I really enjoyed the decreased stress and not even thinking about what dating gave me – it was a great decision!
Give yourself time to heal.
When you allow yourself the time to heal properly, the time to understand what you actually want and need in a relationship, give yourself time to build your strengths and confidence back up and start to understand why your last relationship did not work out well for you-you will start to feel the desire to start dating again. Trust your own intuition!
Professional Matchmaker | Dating Coach, LUMA Luxury Matchmaking
The first step to getting over a heartbreak is to accept that it happened and cry it out.
All too often, we dwell on the partner we lost for far too long. Try writing out a list of all the things you learned from this breakup. What worked? What didn’t? List out the same from previous relationships. This will help you gain control over what it is that you actually need and want out of your next relationship. Then instead of dwelling, you’ll have something to look forward to!
You’ll be ready to date again when you’re excited to date and aren’t focused on your ex anymore.
This can take anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on how close you were and how long you were together. When you’re ready to date, you’re able to know what worked and what didn’t in a with your last partner and are ready to make a healthy decision about the type of person you want to be with now.
There is no magic number of how long.
Relationships are part support and part challenge, part pleasure, and part pain. Yet challenges aren’t bad. They’re for us, not against us. They are invitations to grow, evolve, heal and shine as our true selves. It’s how coal becomes a diamond.
Thus a break up isn’t just releasing the partner, it’s a chance to release the thoughts, behaviors, subconscious beliefs, sabotaging patterns that cause drama and heartache in your life and choose new beliefs, develop new character traits, engage in deeper more authentic communication with Self and Other.
I invite you to see your break up as a sacred time to reunite your mind and soul, to heal what got flushed up in this relationship, to be a better version of you… then date again.
There is no magic number of how long. Long enough that you’re not dating to fill the void of loneliness. Quick enough that you’re not hiding from life.
Trust yourself that you’ll find the sweet spot acknowledging that you’re perfectly imperfect and always will be and do your work so you don’t repeat the same pattern with the next person.
Mary J. Gibson
Dating and Relationship Expert, Dating XP
Don’t jump into a new relationship too soon.
It’s totally fair for you and your new partner to start dating again when you’re not clinging to old pain, doubts, and bitterness.
If you jump into a new relationship too soon then it will be an appalling experience overall. So, make sure you think about what went wrong with the previous relationship and what part you played in that.
You might think that you’ve nothing to work on but believe me there’s always something to work on to improve yourself. Think about what are the things that went wrong from your end and what are the things you want in a new relationship.
Trust me, when you have answers for these two questions, then you would be very likely to conclude if you’re ready to dating again or not. If you’re still emotionally connected to your ex then it’s in the best interest of you to not start dating again.
Author | Writer, Love Learnings
The short answer is you should only date again when you’re ready.
The truth is it depends on you, your needs, and the seriousness of the previous relationship. If you’re asking this question, I recommend waiting at least one month before getting back on the market. It takes time to heal from your emotional wounds and move on.
Start dating someone too quickly and you run the risk of endlessly comparing them to your old partner, or worse, ruining the new relationship with your sadness and old hang-ups.
There’s also the possibility of getting sucked into a rebound relationship where you become too invested in someone simply to try to dull the pain of your breakup.
Dating after a breakup is important, even if you know you won’t be ready for a relationship for quite a while. Breakups leave us feeling rejected and unwanted and this can have negative impacts on our life outside of the romantic sphere.
A few casual dates can be the palette cleanser you need to remember that you are desirable and valuable, whether or not they go anywhere.
You’ll know you’re ready to date again when the opportunity arises and you don’t immediately think about your ex.