After a breakup, it’s perfectly normal to start putting yourself out there and pursuing a new relationship. But if you still have emotional baggage from the last relationship, you could be setting yourself (and your new relationships) up for failure. So how can you tell if you’re emotionally ready to start dating again? Look for these signs.
- You got rid of your ex’s things. You cleared out everything that used to belong to your ex, including his hoodies. You went through and deleted any risque pictures of you and your ex. You replaced your phone’s lock screen to a picture of a cute puppy. If you’ve gotten rid of your ex’s belongings (and you no longer miss any of them), it could be a good sign that you’re emotionally ready to date again.
- You can make new memories to laugh about. Every relationship eventually has its own inside jokes. Sometimes you’ll hear or see something that reminds you of the jokes you and your ex would share. When you’re still emotionally attached to your ex, these triggers might make you feel emotional. However, you’ll know that you have started to move on when you start focusing on the new memories and inside jokes instead of the old ones.
- You aren’t addicted to the attention from dating apps. Sometimes after a breakup, it can be tempting to use a dating app to feel the same rush of attention that you used to feel from your partner. You start chasing the attention without really caring who that attention comes from. When you no longer seek the attention from dating apps and don’t spend every moment obsessively swiping through Tinder, you’re emotionally available enough to start dating again.
- You no longer avoid your ex’s favorite restaurants. You’ve grown comfortable with your own routine, and you’re not afraid of visiting your ex’s favorite restaurants. If you still change your routine to either avoid or run into your ex, you might not be ready to move on. Once you can go back to your own routine, without worrying about if you’ll bump into your ex, you’re well on your way to emotional healing.
- You post on social media for yourself, not for your ex. A lot of times after a breakup, people use social media as a way to dig at their ex. They want their ex to see just how happy they are after the breakup. Then they check constantly to see if their ex saw their stories or liked their posts. If you can get to a place where you no longer need your ex’s validation through social media, chances are that you’re probably ready to date someone new. (And you can always block your ex on social media. It’s a quick way to avoid drama and heartache in the future.)
- You took time to grieve and work through your feelings. Whether your breakup was a mess, or if it was a mutual parting, both you and your ex will need some time to process your feelings. You might cry for a few days, but don’t underestimate the time it takes to heal. If you took a few months (possibly a year or more) to work through your emotions, that’s a good sign. Once you’ve learned how to deal with the post-breakup grief, you’ll be ready to date again because you won’t be pining over your ex the whole time.
- You don’t change your interests in order to attract a partner. There’s a lot of pressure to change yourself in order to attract a guy. For example, exaggerating how much you love the outdoors when you haven’t gone outside in three weeks. When you feel confident in yourself and your interests, and you don’t feel the need to “boost” your dating profile, you’ll do better in the dating world. No need to lie about your interests. You accept that you don’t have to share all of the same hobbies with someone, and that’s okay!
- You have good coping mechanisms. Some of us eat junk food when we get stressed. Others turn to smoking, drinking, or even shopping sprees. When you feel stressed out, how do you handle your emotions? Healthier coping mechanisms might include going for a jog or playing an instrument. Working out can also be a good stress reliever. It’s a good idea to have some healthy ways to cope with stress before you start dating someone new.
- You know what you’re looking for. Do you have plans for what you want in life? Do you have a sense of direction or at least a couple of very promising options? How about your taste in partners— do you know what you want in a man? What personality do you want to see in a boyfriend? Once you know what you want in life and in dating, you’re probably ready to get back out there. You’ll be more confident in yourself and your goals, as well as more selective in your dating options.