Going through a breakup is often a difficult and painful experience that takes time to heal and move on from.
Some people may take more time than others to process the end of a relationship. Others may feel ready to get right back out there and start dating again.
However, healing from a breakup isn’t a linear experience. You may have stretches of days where you don’t think about your ex, only to be hit unexpectedly by something that reminds you of them.
Determining whether or not you’re ready to start dating after a breakup can be challenging. Here’s what the experts say about the right time to start dating after a breakup and some important signs to look out for to know what’s right for you.
When Can I Start Dating After a Breakup?
Wouldn’t it be great if healing from a breakup had a set time frame? You’d know that in just a few weeks or months from now, you’ll wake up one morning feeling totally ready to start seeing someone new.
As licensed psychologist Carolyn Rubenstein explains, being ready to date after a breakup looks different for everyone.
“Ultimately, the timing of when to start dating again after a split is a personal decision that should be based on your own needs and feelings rather than any external rules or expectations,” she says.
As Maria Sullivan, vice president and relationships expert at Dating.com, explains, a big part of the healing process involves relearning who you are without your partner and coming to terms with these changes.
“Understanding how and why the relationship came to an end is crucial to move on,” she says. “It might not happen immediately, so allow yourself time to process and accept these changes.”
Signs You’re Ready to Start Dating After a Breakup
1. You Have a Positive Outlook
Being able to approach dating with a positive attitude and an open mind is crucial.
“If you’re feeling optimistic about the future and excited about the prospect of meeting new people, this is a good sign that you’re ready to start dating again,” says Rubenstein.
It’s also important to examine your motivation to start dating again.
“Once you begin looking at the opportunity to meet someone new as an exciting, positive thing and not a distraction from your ex, it is likely time to get back out there,” says Sullivan.
2. You’ve Stopped Dwelling on Your Ex
If you’ve noticed that you’re no longer thinking of your ex, wondering what they’re doing, or keeping tabs on them, Sullivan says this is a strong indicator that you’re ready to start dating again.
“Lack of interest in your previous partner is a sign that you are ready to move on and put yourself out there to make new connections,” she says.
Rubenstein echoes this. She says, “If you’ve processed your feelings about the breakup and are no longer preoccupied with thoughts of your ex, it’s a sign that you’re emotionally ready to move on.”
3. You Feel Comfortable Spending Time Alone
Before you start dating again, feeling comfortable being alone is important. This means being happy with your own company and not relying on someone else to fill a void in your life.
“If you’re comfortable being alone and happy with your company, it’s a sign that you’re not seeking a new relationship out of loneliness or desperation,” says Rubenstein.
If you find yourself constantly seeking out company or feeling uncomfortable being alone, it may be a sign that you’re not ready to start dating yet.
4. You Aren’t Looking for a Rebound
If you’re using dating to distract yourself from your pain or to get back at your ex, you’re likely not ready to start dating again — and any dating you do at that point could end up being just a rebound relationship that hurts the other person or wastes their time.
“When getting back on the dating scene, motivation should be entirely dependent on your wants and needs and not include any outside people or influence,” says Sullivan.
You need to be in the right mindset to enter a new relationship, and if you’re not emotionally available, it won’t be fair to the person you’re dating.
5. You Know What You Want in a Partner
Breakups allow us to evaluate what’s truly important to us in a partner and what patterns or habits we don’t want to bring into our next relationship. Having a clear idea of what you want in a partner is essential before you start dating again.
“Identifying the qualities you’d like to see in a new partner can allow you to have an easier time in the dating process,” says Sullivan. “Conversely, ask yourself what qualities you’d prefer to completely avoid in a new partner, using your recent breakup experience as a reference point on what could have been better.”
It’s normal to feel unsure about dating again after a breakup. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you’re ready to get back out there, taking time to reflect on your motivations for doing so, your current attitude toward dating and where you’re at in your healing process are all good places to start.
There’s no need to rush if you still don’t feel ready. Take all the time you need before pursuing a new relationship.