Sarah Baxter
October 29, 2015 9:38 am

If you’ve exited a relationship within the past few months, like I have, you might be wondering whether or not you’re ready to get back out there. Sure, there’s a necessary healing period, but you might be thinking about dating again. Whether your relationship lasted a few months or a few years, there’s no exact way to calculate how long it’ll take you to get over an ex, no matter what conventional math ratio your friends tell you. But there are a few universal tell-tale signs that show you how ready—or unready—you are to start dating again.

You have your sobs back under control.

There is a long crying, feel-bad period post breakup and you may not be as out of that period as you think you are. You might think you’re okay, and then your “song” comes on the radio and you have to pull over to have some serious steering wheel watering time.  And that’s okay. Everyone’s grief period is different and lasts for a different amount of time. Some people hardly cry at all, some people are miserable. The important thing is that you are taking care of yourself emotionally and allowing yourself to feel how you feel. Eventually, the thought of that person won’t make you want to cry and little reminders of them will make you smile instead of send you spinning. Until then, get yourself a glass of water to hydrate yourself, put on some sad music, and water your steering wheel.

You know what went wrong, what you need to work on, and what you want from a new relationship.

A big thing you need to have before moving on from a relationship is clarity. You need to be able to figure out why it didn’t work out, how you contributed to that, and/or what you can avoid in the future so it doesn’t happen again. Relationships are a learning process. If you aren’t paying attention to the lessons in a relationship, especially a failed one, you’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes and end up back where you are now. Heartbroken.

You feel hopeful, instead of hopeless.

After a breakup, a lot a people can get a bit cynical when it comes to love. Any happy couples they see are enough to send them sneering off into the sunset. This isn’t a good place to be if you want to attract a healthy, happy partner into your life. A hopeless, cynical mindset is a barrier created by people who want to avoid pain. If you’re still in a love=pain mindset, you’re not ready to date yet.

You aren’t trying to fill any voids. 

One of the biggest mistakes I think people make these days is seeking a new relationship before they’re ready because they’re hoping to fill a void the last person left—or at least distract themselves from the pain. This rebounding usually doesn’t help you heal the old wound, it just covers it up. That, and the person you could be rebounding with may not appreciate you using them to avoid your issues.

But if you feel good in your life and with yourself; if you truly feel whole by yourself, hopeful about the future of your love life, you worked on yourself, you know what you’re looking for, and you aren’t a human bucket of tears, then you’re probably ready to start dating again.

And even if you aren’t ready, that’s okay too. Lord knows I’m not. But that doesn’t mean I never will be. That doesn’t mean I’m not investing the time I need to in order to make myself better for the next partner. It’s not our job to be in a better place than we are at this very moment. As long as you’re taking steps in the right direction, you’ll get there. It doesn’t have to be right away. Take as much time as you need to heal and become your best self. It’ll be worth it in the long run.

Related:

5 things you shouldn’t do after a breakup

How to have a breakup conversation that doesn’t totally suck

(Image via Fox)

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