4 Signs You're Not Ready To Move On From A Bad Breakup, So Give Yourself Some Time
A "good" breakup is pretty much like Bigfoot — it could possibly exist, but probably not. Bad breakups though, oh, those are very real. It could be one that comes at the end of a really toxic relationship, that even if you're happy to get out of, still leaves scars. Or it could come from seemingly out of nowhere and completely knock you off your feet. Either way, it's going to take some time to recover from, but that's OK. If you're just not ready to move on from a bad breakup yet, no judgment here. You get to take all the time you need to heal. And good news: No matter how bad the split was, there will come a time where you'll begin to be ready to put yourself out there again and open a new romantic chapter.
But before you can actually get back out there, the first step is to be truly open and ready to receive new love. Because, if not, you're pretty much destined to sabotage yourself. (I've definitely been there and done that, and I really don't recommend it.) So, how do you know if you're just not prepared to start dating again? Well, pay attention to the signs. Here is how the experts say you'll know if you're not quite ready yet to start dating again after a bad breakup.
1. The breakup is still just too fresh.
When your heart is hurting, it’s natural to try and seek out some quick fix to make it stop. But this may actually make things worse by compounding your pain. Instead, relationship expert and matchmaker Nora DeKeyser of Three Day Rule says it's important to slow down and take care of yourself instead.
“I always recommend taking some time to yourself after ending a relationship,” DeKeyser told Elite Daily. “Date yourself! Remember who you are as a separate person than who you were with your partner. This break helps you build confidence back in yourself, which in turn causes you to become more attractive to a potential new partner."
2. You don’t trust yourself.
A really bad breakup can do more than break your heart — it can really mess with your head, too. Maybe they actively worked to undermine you by gaslighting you, or maybe you felt totally blindsided by the breakup. Either way, it can leave you reeling and in need of some serious relationship downtime. Just know that you're not alone. As relationship expert and matchmaker Alessandra Conti, of Matchmakers In The City told Elite Daily, “I hear the phrase, 'How did I not see this coming?' incredibly commonly." She continued, "You wonder how you did not see the signs that you were being fooled or manipulated, and you begin to question your judgment."
Just like it may take time to be able to trust others again, you may need to take some time to regain trust in yourself. But don’t blame yourself — you are not responsible for the behaviors and effects of a lying, gaslighting, or manipulative ex. Conti agrees, saying, "Feeling betrayed by someone whom you thought had your best interests at heart is emotionally treacherous because you feel as though you were not only betrayed, but you were fooled and disrespected.”
3. You still think about your ex all the time.
If your ex is out of sight but still totally not out of mind, you're not fully ready to move on. Now, I’m not saying one day you will forget they ever existed, but they will gradually take up less and less real estate in your mind. And until they do, you’re not fully ready to move on.
To get a real honest read of where you are with this process, DeKeyser recommended a little trick. She said to take a moment first thing when you wake up to pay attention to what comes to mind, because “The mind is honest when you are in a tired state, so it is a good check-in with yourself to realize what you're thinking about right when you wake up.” So, if the first thing you think of in the morning is them, you still need some more time to heal.
4. You haven't let yourself fully feel your feelings.
I am very good at pushing down bad feelings. Avoid, avoid, avoid. And that works fantastically — until it doesn’t. Without warning, I get hit with a tsunami of emotions that have been festering in my subconscious for who knows how long — and they’ve only grown more powerful with time. It’s not great, don’t be me.
Instead, listen to Dr. Martha Tara Lee, a clinical sexologist (DHS, MA, BA) and founder of Eros Coaching, who told Elite Daily “It is believed that if we allow ourselves to feel whatever emotions it is we are feeling fully for 17 seconds, it will shift." And, she explained that’s important because, “Painful as it is, it is better to feel fully as part of the process of healing as opposed to suppressing, repressing and avoiding feeling... Pain tells us we are alive — we can stay with [it], embrace it and work through it one breath at time and one day at a time."
Yeah, unfortunately, letting yourself hurt is part of the process of getting over a bad breakup. I wish I could say it isn't, but it is. However, I’m not going to leave you on that bummer note. Instead, I’m going to tell you a true bad breakup recovery story.
I spent years in a deeply emotionally abusive relationship — one that I stayed in way too long, and that, when I did finally end things, the breakup left me nearly broken. It took a long while to recover from, but now I am so grateful for that pain. It didn't just wound me — it made me strong. Stronger and smarter than I ever was before. And you know what? You will be, too.