Breakups are never easy, and there is a lot to think about and process once you find yourself single again. But when is the best time to date after a breakup? Is it best to wait a month? A few months? A year? A decade? JK, JK, but really — it’s hard to know how long to wait. Is there such a thing as waiting “too long”? If you jump right into something new, are you just rebounding? Really, all of these questions are super legit and hard to really answer without getting expert opinion, which is why I asked 13 experts: When should you hit the dating game again after a breakup?
In classic life fashion, all of the experts gave a different number. While some thought it’s best to get right back in there, others really maintained that giving yourself a lot of time and space — two to three months for every year you were together with your last partner, for example — is the smartest and most honest way to go, especially if you really want to be emotionally prepared for your next relationship. Read on to discover 13 love and relationship experts’ advice as to how long you should wait after a breakup to date again.
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1. Take As Long As You Need
“How ever long you need to work through the anger or sadness,” Janet Zinn, a New York City–based couples therapist, tells Bustle. “That way, it’s not a rebound or reactionary date scenario.” If you dive directly back into the dating pool, you might find yourself in the deep end, so to speak.
“Too often people want to jump into a relationship,” she says. “If you’re able, it’s better to get through the breakup and learn what you can from the previous relationship, so you’ve grown and learned — and bring that knowledge into a new relationship.” That way, you’re healthier and ready to enter into a new thing with someone without dragging them into your mourning process.
2. When You’re Ready
“Don’t start dating again after a breakup until you are fully engaged in being a receptive dating partner,” certified relationship coach Rosalind Sedacca tells Bustle. “If your heart is still caught up in the past, it’s not fair to a new partner for you to be dating.” Even if you think you’re ready, solicit outside advice — friends, a trusted listener — to be sure that you really are. If you jump too soon, you’ll pass up the “opportunity to explore healthy new relationships,” she says.
“Do the inner work first: Work on healing yourself of baggage from any past relationships,” Sedacca advises. “Work on forgiving yourself for choosing a partner who wasn’t a good match — and on forgiving your partner for the disappointment and hurt related to your relationship.” Though you may wish it weren’t so, there is always work to do after a breakup. “You can’t move forward if you’re still clinging to old pain, resentments, doubts, and anger,” she says. “Don’t waste your time or the time of a new partner” until you are truly ready to open your heart again.
3. When You Feel The Urge
“You can start dating when you feel the urge after a breakup,” life coach and psychotherapist Dr. Jennifer Howard, author of Your Ultimate Life Plan, tells Bustle. “Yet since everything is an inside job, it’s wise to continuing learning from the last relationship, grieving the loss and pain that came up as a result of what happened. After a big breakup is a good time to journal, read good self-help books, and perhaps get counseling as a way to grow. Dating, when you feel ready, can be a good way of practicing the new skills you are learning as you acquire awareness about yourself.” But go slow.
“I always tell my clients that even if this is the ‘one’ and you feel propelled into taking action, please wait four seasons before making big decisions.” If you make it through spring, summer, fall, and winter, green light. “If all is great in the first three months, it will be deeper and more solid in a year if it’s a good long-term choice.” Especially after a breakup, it’s best to move like molasses at the beginning so as to not make any bad decisions.
4. Once You’ve Processed Your Past
“Wait until you’ve processed what went wrong in the previous relationship,” Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. “You’ll want to do it differently next time, so understand your part in whatever didn’t work.” Once you really have a handle on that, you’ll be much better equipped for your next partnership. And be sure to take enough time to feel the pain. “If it was an important relationship, you’ll need time to grieve before getting back in the arena,” she adds.
5. Once The Mourning Ends
“You can’t just keep going from one relationship to another without a timeout,” relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can’t Leave Bad Relationships , tells Bustle. “You can’t bypass the mourning period.” As Tessina and other experts suggest, Sansone-Braff stresses the importance of pressing pause, going inward, and feeling it all.
“Stop distracting with drinking, drugging, dating apps — and just let yourself feel the loss and the sorrow that the ending of a relationship brings,” Sansone-Braff says. “Depending upon how intense the love affair actually was, this period can last a few months to a year or longer.” It takes time to really feel everything and process it all. “Once you feel that you’ve learned the lessons in why that relationship was brought to you in the first place, and why it ended, you’re ready to move on,” she says. “Too much baggage from the past that you’re still holding on to doesn’t portend good things for a new relationship.” You don’t want to bring those bags into something new — so give it some time and space.
6. Once You’ve Let Go Of Bitterness
“While I think that being social is good immediately, I think dating is for those who are not seeking to be fulfilled but to share, and can do so without any memory that is bitter of the past,” zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. If you’re out there looking for a love fix and you’re harboring angry feelings from your last relationship, that’s what you’re putting out there.
“If you bring anger, sadness or victimization into a new relationship, that is what your new amour [will fall] in love with — not your truth, which is often much more healed and stable.” Let your new love fall in love with you — not the self you’ll project when you’re not fully healed yet.
7. Six Months To A Year
“Six months to a year – depending on the length of time that you were dating,” author and relationship expert Alexis Nicole White tells Bustle. Taking a more clinical approach to the whole thing, White adds that there is a formula that you can keep in mind as a good rule of thumb if you want something more specific. “Theoretically, I would give two to three months for every year you all were together to process the loss of a relationship, grieve and pick yourself back up,” she says. In other words, you need solo time to be ready for the next.
8. When You’re Asked On A Date
“By far the best time to consider dating again after a break up is when you are asked on a date,” dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. “Remember, you don’t have to say yes to the date, but just the fact that you were asked will cause you to consider how you feel about dating in general.”
Pay attention to how you feel when it happens. “When someone asks you out on date after a breakup — whether it’s the first person who asks or the thirtieth — when the right person asks and you say yes, you will know that it’s time to start dating again,” he says. “Nobody says this date has to lead to anything, but the fact that you agreed to go shows that you are moving forward and ready to take on the world again.”
9. There’s No ‘Right’ Time
“I do not think there is any right or wrong answer to this in terms of time,” psychologist Nicole Martinez, who is the author of eight books, including The Reality of Relationships , tells Bustle. “It is when you are ready, when you have truly moved on, and when you have healed the wounds of your previous relationship.” If you can check all three boxes, feel free to give it a spin. “If you had bad habits and patterns that played a part in the relationships demise, it would be a very good idea to work through these as well first, so that you do not carry them into your next relationship, which can poison it from the start.” Once you’ve taken adequate time to heal and work that stuff out, go for it.
10. There Is No Magic Number
“There isn’t really a magic number as to how long you need to wait after a breakup,” life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. “The only way to tell is to be honest with yourself regarding your feelings over your ex.” How over them are you, really? “If you are 100 percent — or even 75 percent — over them, it’s safe to date,” Rogers says. “If you’re not over them — not even half way over them — do not date.”
It’s all about fairness, and if you’re still hung up in the past, there’s nothing fair about that. “It’s not fair to you, and it’s certainly not fair” to your potential partners. “I’m sure you wouldn’t like it if you started dating a guy [or gal] who wasn’t over their ex, so don’t do that to others either,” she says. “Putting a bandaid on an axe wound never helps — do the hard work first so you can heal properly, and then go out and date.”
11. The Only Rule Is That There Are No Rules
“There is no hard and fast rules,” Dawn Maslar, a.k.a. “the Love Biologist,” tells Bustle. “In fact, it will depend on the individual.” Go within and see what your heart really requires. “Often people will use dating as a way to heal,” she says. “He or she might not be ready for a relationship, but they are ready to see what’s out there.” If you feel as though casual dating will help you get over your ex, by all means try it out. “That’s important to keep in mind when you’re dating,” she adds. “Not everyone is going to be in the same place.” So be sure not to get too hung up on someone until you’re sure that they’re really onboard too.
12. Just Don’t Rebound
“Breakups are different, so gauging the best time to date afterwards has a lot to do with the nature of the relationship that broke up,” New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. “A first love break up is a lot different than a two-year romance that ended because it was actually a rebound romance to start.” Whatever the case may be, suss it out and see where you stand. “You have to really gauge a few things when deciding what time is right for you to start dating,” she adds.
Just don’t rebound, whatever you do. “Rebound relationships create a lot of heartache when you realize the person you’ve invested in isn’t right — and you didn’t see it from the get-go because you were so invested in replacing what was lost in the breakup that led to the rebound,” Masini says. “Wait to feel truly single before dating if your breakup is super painful.” Go slow, and be careful out there.
13. When You Don’t Compare Anyone To Your Ex
“It depends,” relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. “Just because someone physically broke up with their partner doesn’t mean they’ve been emotionally invested up until the actual breakup.” Sometimes people pull away long before the actual time of separation. “People emotionally distance for weeks or even months before the relationship ends, and they could be ready to date shortly after a breakup,” she says. “If you’re dating and compare every new person to your ex, and end up dismissing them because they don’t measure up, you may not be ready to date. Take time off until you can appreciate each date for what he or she has to offer.” Until then, you’re probably not truly ready.