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How Can You Tell If You’re Ready to Date Again After a Break Up?

Get back out there? Take some time to figure your own shit out first? It all depends how the last relationship ended.

IT’S OVER! Fuck everyone, I’m taking time for myself! I’m going to LIVE!

….I’m lonely and I need a hug.

FUCK THAT! I’m wild and free and single and I’m going to have sex with all the things!

…..I miss spooning while watching three seasons of The Great British Baking Show in one day.

UGH.

Fresh off of a breakup and still trying to make sense of things, the immediate post-breakup time is a weird, confusing, aggravating, heart-wrenching period. Your friends are encouraging you to get out there and have yourself a rebound or two, while part of you wonders if you should take a minute to figure out the stuff that went wrong with you before doing it all over again. So what’s the best course of action? Let’s ask the experts…

Lisa White, psychotherapist and relationship expert: One big mistake that people make following a breakup is that they tend to get with a new person who is the antithesis of their last relationship. The challenge with that, though, is that while your last relationship may not have worked out, more than likely your ex was meeting at least some of your needs. In a rebound, people typically focus only on that area where their needs weren’t being met.

Now, rebounds aren’t always bad, [but] you just want to keep in perspective that you’re doing this to offset whatever happened in your previous relationship. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t make them a partner.

If you find yourself wanting to get more serious with someone again, you’ll need to be far enough away from that previous serious relationship where you’ve had time to evaluate things as a whole. You want to be able to understand what needs were being met, what needs weren’t being met and what it is you’re looking for going forward.

Sue, bartender who’s tended a lot of singles nights: I’ve been bartending for about 34 years, so I’ve seen a lot of people come into this place fresh off a breakup. The biggest thing I see is when people clearly aren’t over their ex. I know one couple who are constantly on-again, off-again, and whenever they breakup, they go on a huge Facebook war and it always gets ugly. But then they’ll inevitably get back together not long after. Or someone will be trying to meet someone new one night, yet back at the bar, they’re texting their ex. I’ll also see vulnerable people get bombed and leave with someone else, but that never makes them feel better because they’re still hung up on the ex.

Same goes for those dating sites and apps. I know a lot of people who, after they breakup, immediately end up on a dating site and they’ll sit at the bar swiping or whatever. Honestly, if you’re fresh off a breakup, give yourself a little time to be yourself for a while.

Samantha Daniels, author of Matchbook: The Diary of a Modern-Day Matchmaker and founder of Samantha’s Table Matchmaking: It all depends on the person. Some people like to get back out there right away so they feel like they’re being proactive, while others like to wait. Sometimes, I do think it’s good for someone to get right back out there so that they can see that there are “other fish in the sea.” However, if meaningless connections tend to make you feel empty and alone, then don’t do it — wait until the timing is right for you.

More than likely, I’d advise that you spend some time feeling good about yourself, understanding that the divorce or breakup wasn’t your fault, and understanding who you are as a person today, because you’re probably very different from who you were prior to this relationship. It’s never good to get back on the dating horse if your head isn’t in the game, or if you’re still hung up on your last love. It’s better to spend some time figuring out what went wrong, what you can change or do differently next time around and what type of person would be better for you going forward. As for knowing if you’re ready, you just need to “feel” it — take baby steps and give dating a try, see how it feels to you.

As far as dating apps go, they’re a good way to test the waters and get back out there, because you can be as active or passive as you want on them. Dating apps also show a person that there is “light at the end of the tunnel” — that there are people out there to meet. However, you do need to take your app dating with a grain of salt and learn how to be discerning, because there are definitely people on the apps who are just looking to be casual, then others who are looking for more serious connections. It’s always good to express your intentions so that you’ll meet someone who’s on the same page as you are.

Helen Meissner, who’s been married and divorced four times: They do say that nothing gets your heart mended sooner than falling in love again. While this is certainly a nice distraction in the short-term, it can be productive to try to calmly analyze exactly what went wrong and what could have been done about your prior relationship.

It’s especially helpful to notice how you are in relationships, so you can work out what sort of relationship would best suit you moving forward. It’s highly unlikely that there is anyone out there who’s the walking embodiment of your “wish list,” but you can spend some time working out what is most important to you so you can prioritize certain elements. You might even change your mind about what’s important to you now.

If you have children, the way the new person relates to the children is critical to the success of a relationship, so it’s something that requires considerable thought, energy and effort. How you handle each step post-breakup, then getting into a new relationship, especially counts if you’re a parent, so you need to make a conscious effort to be considerate of your children. But don’t let that hold you back completely: If you handle things well, who knows, it could turn out to be an unmitigated success. Using myself as an example, I’ve been in four marriages, each lasting between seven and ten years, and I have several children and stepchildren and have good relationships with all of them. I’m even in a stable, committed, cohabiting relationship again, so fingers crossed!

Marisa Saks, co-host of Bravo TV’s The Millionaire Matchmaker and CEO and co-founder of Caviar, a high-end dating app coming soon to the App Store: Everyone is different in their healing process. For some, they need to jump right back on the horse — others need to take some time to heal. Personally, I think a happy combo of both is ideal. Take time to reflect on your past relationship and know that it’s okay to be sad about it. Perhaps it might help to make a pros and cons list to identify the parts of it you didn’t like, and the parts you did like. Moving forward, leave the cons behind when searching for your next love connection.

Rebounds happen sometimes and it can be like a bridge to your next relationship, but they aren’t always needed, as sometimes your love is right around the corner. Be open to it or it could pass you right by.