Breakups take time to process, no matter the situation that caused them. Ultimately, everyone needs their own time and energy to move past an emotional split. But the signs you’re not ready to date after your breakup show that you shouldn’t rush into anything new. Spend some time investing in yourself and making sure you’re in a good place for a new relationship.
It’s not always easy to tell when you’re ready to date again. I’ve had friends who jump right back into new relationships after a breakup, while I usually find that I need more time to be single and figure out what I want. It comes down to the specific context of the breakup, your own emotional needs, and what will make you feel most confident and secure. To learn some specific guidelines for moving on, I reached out to breakup expert Kate Galt to get her advice. She assured that no matter your situation, there are some simple ways to tell when your heart’s not in the right place.
If you notice any of these signs apply to you, take a step back and reevaluate your healing process. You may need to give yourself more time to let go of the past.
1. You still talk about your ex often.
In conversations with friends, you find yourself bringing up your ex in casual conversation. “If he/she’s on your mind (a lot) when you are with others, you’ve still got the majority of grieving to do,” Galt explains. “The grieving will not follow a linear path, but it will subside as you do the work to move through it.” She notes that if this person is on your mind a lot, it’s probably a sign that you’re not done processing the breakup.
If you’re stuck in a cycle and can’t seem to get over your ex, Galt suggests talking it out with a trained professional. “It’s a process that a coach or therapist can help with if it’s taking longer than you think it ’should,’” she says. But also, don’t put pressure on yourself to move on in any particular time frame — your process shouldn’t look like anyone else’s.
2. The thought of dating doesn’t excite you.
If you approach the idea of dating with fear, or with the perspective that you’ll never find anyone again, you might not want to jump into the dating game just yet. “This is a sign that you need to buff up your platonic friendships, go out and do what you love, and let go of finding a partner for now,” Galt suggests. Take time to fill your cup with things that bring you joy — you don’t need a partner to make you happy!
3. You’ve been dating casually and aren’t connecting with anyone.
You think dating will help you move on, but in reality, you can’t seem to find anyone you want to be with. Every first date just fizzles off as you realize there’s no real connection. While you might just be having bad luck, you could also be hesitant to open your heart to someone again. “Take it for what it’s worth — the timing is off,” Kalt explains. “Sign up for some classes. Keep yourself busy with yoga/meditation/cardio/reading. Go inside and find out more of who you are today.” Take a break from dating until you’re ready to approach it with fresh perspective.
4. You’re seeing someone new, but it doesn’t feel right.
Maybe you rushed into a new relationship after your breakup. You thought it would all be fine, but you just don’t feel the spark with your new partner. If this happens, Galt suggests getting out of that relationship to reevaluate your feelings. “Get out now and go through the process of grief,” she urges. “It needs to happen before you can truly clear out your psyche to be available to a new lover.”
So how do you know when you are ready to date again? Galt says it starts with a shift in perspective. “You want and feel attracted, not just [to] men/women, but to the world as a whole (like the world is your oyster feeling),” she emphasizes. “You’re not just feeling sexy, but also excited in many ways about the prospect of love and sex.” You should feel lighthearted, happy, and open to whatever life throws your way.
Of course, the burden of grief after a breakup doesn’t fade away in an instant. “It’s really nice to stay single for a little while at least, while you enjoy who you’ve become,” Galt says. “And then get to know some of your prospects quite well before you jump in again.” Get to know new people without putting pressure on yourself to date anyone. You might just find your next relationship completely by accident.
You should also wait to date until you’ve stopped thinking regularly of your ex. “If you’ve properly processed, that person is in your heart in a bittersweet way, where you have control of when you revisit the memories,” Galt explains. Sure, you’ll never completely forget that someone existed (unless you’re Taylor Swift), but you can look at those memories objectively without feeling pain and sadness.
When the time is right to date again, you’ll know in your gut. And though it may take some time to find the relationship you’re looking for, you can be confident that your past experiences have made you the person you are today.