Deciding when to start dating after a breakup is always hard.
A big reason for this may be because there is no real "right" way to go about it. Dating and recovering from breakups are highly subjective, personal experiences, so there is no one formula or rule to use to determine when, exactly, it is appropriate to dip one's metaphorical toe back into the proverbial dating pool.
Still, there are some guidelines everyone can use to figure out what's best for them. Here, Susan Winter, an NYC-based relationship expert, and Dr. Paulette Sherman, an NYC-based psychologist and author of "Dating From The Inside Out," explain how to tell when you're ready to date after a breakup.
Instead, it's best to try and give yourself as long as it takes to come to terms with whatever residual feelings (positive and negative) you have about your ex.
"If you're still in pain, obsessing about your ex, or suffering from emotional whiplash, you're not ready to date," Winter told INSIDER. "The best post-breakup dating is done when you've accepted the fact that your ex is an ex for good reason."
It is also important to feel as though you are ready to open yourself up to someone new.
"[You] have high self-esteem, an open heart, and feel ready to be vulnerable with someone new," Sherman told INSIDER.
You don't need to totally forget about your ex in order to achieve this vulnerability. But according to Sherman, a person who is ready to date and start a new relationship knows how to think critically about the relationship that has ended
"They have learned lessons from their past relationship and see it as a stepping stone to becoming a wiser dater; one who has more clarity about what will work for them in a relationship in the future," Sherman said.
"When you get excited about new possibilities and meeting new people, you're ready," Winter told INSIDER.
That said, there's a difference between being genuinely excited to meet someone new and feeling a need to go out with people just because you want something to distract you from your ex.
"If you're reactive, fearful, hurting, or moody from heartache, you're not ready to bring someone new into your life," Winter said.
Even if it's been a while since the breakup, there may be some lingering signs that you aren't ready to date someone new.
"It's probably a warning sign if [you] are constantly stalking their ex on social media, still keep photos and objects that belong to [your] ex everywhere, and are still calling them or hooking up with them," Sherman told INSIDER. "[You] are probably also not ready to date if [you] are doing it with the hopes of making [your] ex jealous."
"Most people probably wait at least a month if they had a relationship that was at least a few months long," Sherman told INSIDER. "If it was a more significant relationship then they may take longer, like three months or more to start dating again."
Still, you don't need to get hung up on a particular deadline. As long as you're giving yourself enough time to effectively evaluate your emotions to ensure you aren't hurting other people on your post-breakup recovery path, you should be fine.
"Each breakup is different," Winter told INSIDER. "Some breakups can level you to the ground, and others can be processed within a matter of days or weeks. Processing and packaging your past is the best recipe for a successful and happy romantic future."
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Originally published on Business Insider.
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