After you break up with a partner, the first question that comes to mind likely isn't "when can I date someone else?" But eventually, it will be. Once some time has passed, you'll feel ready to put yourself back out in the dating pool.
The amount of time is different for everyone, especially based on the length of a relationship. While I, personally, was never a big fan of Sex and the City, I am a fan of character Charlotte York's advice that it typically takes half of the time of a relationship to get over your ex. So if you were going strong for a year? It'd likely take six months to move forward.
But, that only pertains to relationships that were always healthy. Sometimes, we stay with someone longer than we should, even if we know they're toxic. Why? In the words of Ojus Patel Desai from MindBodyGreen, "There is much more resolve needed to let go than hold on."
In our heads, we feel like maybe the relationship will flourish once again with time. In our hearts, we know it's been over for months, but neither one of you wants to make the break official. Breaking up is hard, and can be very messy if done incorrectly.
If you're ready to figure out what happens after your broken heart has finally had a chance to heal, you're in the right place. Here's everything you need to know to successfully start dating again after a big breakup.
Why dating immediately after a breakup is a bad idea
A lot of men and women feel confident to finally leave a bad relationship after meeting somebody new. While it's good to break things off rather than cheat, it's still a move that'll probably lead to disastrous results. Even if your heart is no longer with your ex, you still might have a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up.
For example, it'd be pretty embarrassing to invite a new fling over and realize you're still logged into your exes Netflix account. Even if the romance died in your relationship years ago, chances are you still might share the same mutual friends or even a basket of stuff left at each other's apartments. You need to take the time to cleanse your ex from your life altogether.
There's also a chance that you've friended and followed their family members on social media, so you also need to take the time to think about whether or not staying connected would look good to a potential new relationship. How often do you talk to your exes mom? Would it be weird to cut them off completely?
If you're hoping to remain friends with your ex, dating someone new soon after a breakup will also give them the wrong idea. Put yourself in their shoes, and see how your self-confidence takes a dive. While you shouldn't live your life based solely on your exes' feelings, it's better to be kind about the situation than completely burn a bridge if at all possible.
It's also a big red flag to the new person you're dating. "People often date as a form of romantic validation, especially if you were the one rejected," said writer Jenna Birch from The Washington Post. "However, this move is only likely to stunt connection and cause hurt."
How long you should wait to date again?
While I gave the Sex and the City answer above, the truth of the matter is that it should only be used as a rough guideline. Every relationship is a little different. If you dated a partner long-distance for a year, never cohabitated, and rarely went on any physical dates, it'll be a lot easier to move on than if you shared an electric bill and a pet cat.
You want to put yourself out there when your heart has healed. When you go back to dating, you'll need to can the idea that your ex is the person you'll end up with at the end. Sure, it's possible for reconciliation in the future, but feeling as if that'll be your inevitable solution just isn't fair to the next person you date.
Even if you were the person who was badly hurt within the relationship, it may take some time to fully recover. If your ex cheated on you, or emotionally abused you, you might not feel as if you're worthy of dating.
Suzannah Weiss from Bustle chatted with social worker Kryss Shane about the issue, who confirmed that it could take years to date again if it means re-establishing who you are as an individual. If your ex has torn you down, you need to build yourself up before confidently putting yourself out there again.
Just be honest with yourself. If you're not ready, you're not ready. And it might sound a little cliche, but you can't expect somebody else to fall for you if you're not currently a huge fan of yourself.
Tips for meeting someone new
If you're not a natural when it comes to putting yourself out there, don't worry. Sometimes, you can meet new people when you least expect it. You just need to be open to saying yes to every invite.
Not everyone is a natural at being social, but it's a skill that's worth building on. If a friend invites you to a party, it is incredibly easy to tell them you have other plans since you'd prefer just to sit inside, lounge around, and order food in.
There's definitely a time and place for nights like this, but you're unknowingly sheltering yourself from meeting new people in your age range that likely have similar interests to you.
Even if it's stopping in and saying hi, making an effort to make an appearance is half the battle. If you're ready to go out and meet someone new, there's nothing wrong with doing it the old fashioned way and meeting friends of friends. Even if you start chatting with a new acquaintance who isn't available, they might think you're a perfect match for one of their single friends.
One of the most important things is to make sure you present yourself in the best way possible. You want to be honest about who you are, but display confidence in what you present. If you love video games and horror films? Be the person who's ready to chat about a new release positively. Love animals? Then come prepared with a few cute pet photos to share with someone new.
One big tip? Avoid talking about your ex. We're at an age where everyone's likely got one, and any story you tell will just be a big warning to a potential match that you're not quite over them yet.
3 reasons you should try online dating
Decades ago, online dating was seen as somewhat of an embarrassing practice. These days, most people depend on it. If you're worried about somebody you know stumbling across your profile who you know professionally, don't worry — they're on there too, and they won't make you feel bad about finding a new relationship online.
There are three reasons why you should give online dating a shot.
1. It's the easiest way to meet new people.
You can literally do it from the comfort of your own bed. All you need to do is swipe left or right to create a list of potential matches. You can also contact multiple people at once — and should, if you're ready to date.
2. It'll allow you to screen someone before you take the time to meet in person.
Gone are the days of blind dates. Now that everyone has some sort of digital footprint, you can be on the lookout for red flags before you even arrange a time to meet up. You'll be able to chat with your match about everything that you may feel is important before setting up a time to hang out in person. This will also make you feel more comfortable before arranging a physical date, since you can prep topics to talk about.
3. Many sites are free to try.
A few of them require money to sign up, but most only cost more for add-on extras. That means that you can at least test out a few dating sites and apps without spending money, in case you're not fond of their format. Some of the most popular dating sites for those starting out include Match, Zoosk, and Eharmony.
There are also certain dating sites for specific interests or religious preferences, like JDate, Christian Cafe, and Single And Sober. There are even sites out there that cater to pet lovers, frequent flyers, and those who need to live a gluten-free lifestyle. Whatever they are, you'll likely find a site that matches your interests.
How to get rid of dating anxiety for first dates
It's normal to feel a little anxious about a first date, especially if it's been some time since you've met somebody new that you have a connection with. The truth is, they're probably feeling the same way.
The best way to ease anxiety is to practice breathing and meditation. Proper breathing techniques are a free tool you can literally use anywhere, so you should use this as a good opportunity to master a few. In case that's not for you, you can also use a personal mantra to get you through the date.
Honesty is also really important. If you tell your date that you're a bit nervous, you'll feel as if you have nothing to hide. If they're legitimately a good match for you, they'll appreciate your openness and try to make you feel comfortable in the situation. That, or they'll help lead the conversation to put you at ease.
One thing you shouldn't do is have a drink or two before a date. Yes, it may loosen you up — but, if you go overboard, or manage to smell like alcohol prior to the start of your date, you may give off the wrong impression.
If you find that it's something you absolutely need to tame your anxiety, you might want to talk to your doctor and see if a prescription, or some therapy, will be a safer alternative that'll make the process a lot easier. You might not know that you've been living life in a harder mode than your friends if you have a lingering, undiagnosed issue with general anxiety.
First dates are often awkward, but second, third, and fourth dates are a lot easier. If you can get through this, you've battled the hardest part. Even if it doesn't end up working out, you're gaining practice on how to talk to people you may end up falling for.
Avoid the temptation of going back to your ex again
There's a reason why so many couples get back together — and it's not based on love. When you've been with a partner for a long time, you're just used to having them around. It's possible to feel miserable with someone, but even more miserable without them.
If the two of you have been separated for a month or more, enough time has passed for you to sugarcoat the reasons why you split. "There were bigger issues for you two to finally cut the cord," writers Sarah and Samantha from The Good Men Project state. "Those issues do not disappear after a breakup. Don’t sacrifice the things you want from a partner for someone who is just going to disappoint you again."
It's also possible that your ex won't leave you alone after breaking up, which is toxic behavior. Dating Coach Laurel House provided a video about how it's important to just get over your toxic ex and move forward. Even if it seems like things won't ever get better, they will once they're out of your life for good.
You may feel a little silly in calling them toxic, but the word is fitting. PsychCentral defines the term as someone who "create drama in their lives or be surrounded by it." Plenty of people split for that very reason. True love is challenging, but should never be dramatic.
There are situations in which the two of you have both changed and managed to move forward. But, the likeliness is somewhat rare — especially if the breakup only happened this year. It's very easy to convince yourself that somebody has changed if they openly tell you they have. But the second your past issues have a chance to creep back into the relationship, you'll suddenly remember why you split in the first place.
Even if it's tempting, remember — being in a bad, unhealthy relationship is a lot worse than being single. Being single, in itself, isn't a curse. According to Minou Clark from HuffPost, it's a great time where you can "truly learn to love yourself and your independence," which is incredible for personal growth.
Yes, it's possible to get out there and date after a particularly bad breakup. The most important tool you need is a healthy sense of confidence, which may take some time to build. Don't rush it. If you're not ready to date, but you try and tell yourself otherwise, you'll be hurting both yourself and the person who genuinely thought you were a candidate for a longterm connection.
It's also important to remember that while there are people out there with negative characteristics like your ex, all men or all women aren't set out to hurt you the same way. Sometimes, one particularly bad experience may turn you off of love altogether. But, you should never let someone who's simply incompatible with you control your entire view of dating.
Be the best version of yourself and don't be too embarrassed or afraid to put yourself out there. Dating is literally a challenge for everyone, and there isn't anyone out there who's constantly been successful with it — which is why dating apps that boast multiple matches exist in the first place.
Folllowing some of these guidelines will help you remember that life goes on. One positive thing about a toxic ex is that they'll help you realize the type of person you don't want to be with, which will make finding the right person even easier.
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, Zoosk, Bolde, Real Simple, and HelloGiggles. She's the mom of a feisty 2.5 year old, and loves watching sketch comedy shows.