Someone once told me "better to be alone than in bad company," and that always resonated with me. I've never been what you would call a serial monogamist, but I nevertheless always thought that was really great advice, especially when I'd watch friends struggle with incompatible partners or stay in relationships way longer than they should, just out of fear of being alone. Granted, no one wants to feel lonely and the temptation to try and fall in love with someone new immediately after falling out of love can be powerful. But is that a good enough reason to rush from relationship to relationship? Or should you really take some time to be on your own? How do you know when to date again after a breakup?
To help make sense of this common dilemma, I reached out to relationship expert and matchmaker Nora DeKeyser of Three Day Rule. She breaks down why it’s not only important to take some time to yourself to heal after a relationship, but also to make sure that, when you do start dating again, the new relationship has a strong and healthy foundation. Yep, that’s right, it turns out that rushing in is a great way to sabotage your new relationship before it even starts. But here is how DeKeyser says you can avoid that.
You Should Always Take A Breather Between Relationships
Anyone who has been in a long-term relationship knows that, in the process, you lose a bit of your identity. This is totally normal because it comes along with the compromises we all make to keep our relationship healthy.
However, when you split up, it’s important to take the time to heal and rediscover those parts of yourself that you may have let go of in those compromises. “I always recommend taking some time to yourself after ending a relationship,” says DeKeyser. “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."
Start Dating Again When The Time Is Right
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some exact amount of time that was “right” before you start dating again? But of course, when it comes to matters of the heart, nothing is that simple. You have to take each situation case by case.
Consider how healthy your previous relationship was. Was it toxic and left you in a fragile state? If so, then DeKeyser says you have to take the time you need in order to heal. But if there is no hard and fast rule about how much time to take, how do you know if you’re ready to move on?
The key to success in this… is your own state of happiness, says DeKeyser. “If you feel yourself needing a partner to fill that void you miss, then you are not ready. If you feel yourself self-sufficient, happy, emotionally aware, and excited for the unknown to come, you are ready!”
Signs That You Are Ready To Fall In Love Again
If that all seems a little too unclear, DeKeyser does give some more concrete examples of signs that you’re ready to get back into the dating game. She suggests checking in with yourself first thing in the morning. “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,” she says. Is the first thing you think about still your ex? If so, that’s a pretty obvious sign you still need more time.
Another thing DeKeyser points to as an indication that you’re ready to date again is when you’ve stopped comparing everyone you are attracted to to your ex. “When you are finally getting over an ex, this should come naturally to you, she says. “If you see someone attractive and then immediately think of your also attractive ex, you are not ready to move on.”
However, the clearest sign according to DeKeyser is that you’ve let go of your expectations and aren’t trying fill a void with someone new. “That is you controlling and trying to fix your situation by using someone else. This will never work,” DeKeyser notes. “You need to fix the situation with you and only you. Once you feel content with just you, you are ready for a new relationship.”
It’s not easy letting go after a relationship, and it’s even harder not to want to soothe that heartache with someone new, which is why DeKeyser gives one last bit of advice about how to fill the time while you heal: “Fill that void with your own passions, friends, family, exercise, new activities that you've always wanted to do but haven't had the time.” Follow that advice and you’ll be truly ready to find a new love before you know it.
Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!