If there’s one thing we know about moving on after a breakup, it’s that there is no norm for how, when, or why it happens. You cannot will it to happen by dating a new cutie or drinking enough champagne. You cannot expect it on a certain timeline. So, how do you know if you’re ready to move on after a breakup? The healing process happens differently for everyone, depending on the person’s personality, circumstances, and the nature of their relationship as well as the way it ended. Still, there are ways to tell when the wounds have started to close, and you’re prepared to dive into this exciting new chapter of your life.
It’s only natural to experience some denial when you’re fresh off a breakup. Part of you doesn’t want to believe it’s actually happening — and you may even be scheming up ways to get back together with your ex in order to quell the heartache. According to Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent dating and relationship therapist in Los Angeles, if you’ve accepted that it’s over, that’s one clear indicator that you’re getting ready to move on. Once you’ve come to grips with this reality, you can stop obsessing over what you could have said or done differently or fantasizing about reuniting with your ex, and start to focus on other things.
Speaking of which — if your thoughts have shifted away from your relationship, that’s another positive sign. Immediately after the breakup, it’s totally normal to feel like you’re fixated on thoughts about your ex and your previous relationship. Over time, those thoughts will likely become less and less frequent. Eventually, you’ll hopefully reach a place where they are fleeting.
“You are beginning to think more about your life without your ex than your life with your ex,” explains Dr. Brown. “You are feeling hopeful that there is indeed life after your ex.”
So, if you find yourself excitedly planning a trip to Europe with your girlfriends, mulling over some career moves, or spending your free time exploring a new hobby, that could indicate that you’re ready to move on.
Additionally, if you feel as if you’ve gained some perspective on your breakup, that could mean you’ve gotten over it.
“You understand why things didn't work out and you're ready to get back into the social scene,” Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily.
That may not mean you’re eagerly re-downloading Tinder or giving out your number at the bar. Contrary to popular belief, dating again doesn’t prove you’re over a breakup. When you choose to start seeing people is up to you, and has nothing to do with your ability to move on. However, if you feel like you’ve had enough time and space from the breakup to understand why the relationship ended, that’s a good sign. It can be difficult to have clarity immediately after a split happens — intense emotions can cloud our judgment and ability to think rationally. When you’re ready to move on, you’ll likely have a more balanced view of what went wrong in your relationship, which will be super helpful as you potentially explore new relationships going forward.
If you feel like you're ready to move on, there are some things you can do for yourself to facilitate that process. For one, Dr. Brown advises unfollowing your ex on all social media accounts. You may think that seeing their posts won’t affect you, but the risk is far greater than the reward. Catching a glimpse of a photo of them with someone new (or even just seeing their face) may be more painful than you expect it to be, and could be harmful to all the progress you’re making in healing from the breakup. So it’s better to be safe than sorry in this regard.
You’ll likely have a lot more free time now that you’re single, and Dr. Brown recommends spending some of that time around family and friends who are supportive. Keep in mind that while it's definitely healthy to distract yourself and talk about other things besides your breakup, talking about it can also prove helpful, too.
He also suggests planning some things that you can look forward to, whether that means booking a weekend yoga retreat, snagging tickets to a music festival with your besties, or organizing a wine tasting party at your apartment. These are the kind of things that will remind you how fulfilling life can be despite the fact that you and your ex are no longer together.
Dr. Brown notes that writing in a journal can be a useful way to help you gain some closure.
“Focus not only just what wasn't working but also what you would like in a future relationship where things are working more ideally,” he says. “Having a positive vision for your future can help to make that happen.”
Lastly, Dr. Brown emphasizes the importance of practicing self-love. Make time for things that you know bring your pleasure, whether that includes riding your bike around the city, taking a cooking class, indulging in a little pampering, or bonding with your BFF over brunch.
If you're still struggling to get over your ex and move on after a breakup after an extended period of time, Dr. Brown advises talking to a therapist who can help you navigate through your grief.
As much as you may be longing to move on from your breakup, remember: It is not something that can be forced. Making time for some self-care, spending time with supportive friends and family, journaling about your feelings, and planning things to look forward to can certainly all help to speed it along. But rather than focus on the endpoint, try to enjoy the journey. Healing is a complicated process, and it happens in different ways for different people. The bottom line? When you’re ready to move on, you’ll know. Rather than focusing on your past, your attention will have shifted to your present and future.