Asking how long you should wait before dating after a break-up is a bit like the old ‘how long is a piece of string’ conundrum. I don’t think there is ever a set amount of time but I do think there are things to consider.
Here are a few thoughts on getting back on the dating scene after a break-up.
Don’t do it because your ex is
It’s so tempting (and easy!) to jump on Tinder because you know your ex is seeing someone new. But honestly, this is never setting yourself up for a fulfilling dating experience. You also have to remember that it’s not only you involved here. There are the people you’re going on dates with in the equation too. You’ll be giving off a vibe that either suggests desperation or complete disinterest – neither of which makes a fun date for either people involved!
Don’t do it to fill a gap
You will likely feel lonely, sad and like something is missing after a break-up. This is normal. Something and someone that has been a significant part of your life is no longer there and you will feel that void. But just because it’s uncomfortable that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just a transition. So use that time to focus on yourself – your own goals, hobbies and passions. Spend time reconnecting with friends and family. Spend time alone too. Don’t rush to dating in a panic solely to fill a gap as to be quite honest, it won’t. It might provide short-term gratification but it won’t offer much else.
Don’t date because people tell you you should
‘You need to get yourself back out there!’ Heard that one before? If friends, family, co-workers – whoever, are telling you this but you’re really not feeling it yourself, don’t feel pressured to date to keep other people happy. This is the exact time you should be using to focus on your own happiness; including making your own choices.
Don’t cut yourself off from the possibility of meeting people
Whilst I do think it’s important to take that time for yourself after a break-up, don’t scoot to the other end of the scale and refuse to date because you don’t think you should. Dating isn’t an all or nothing thing. You’re not committing to a marriage or even a relationship. You have full control. If you meet someone that you are curious about or have a connection with, go for coffee, a drink or dinner with them if you want to. Meeting new people in general is an important part of the ‘getting over a break-up’ journey as encourages in new memories, friendships and connections to your life. If something more develops and you are happy with that, great!
Maybe you’re at the stage where you feel positive about dating but not ready to jump into a relationship. That’s ok! If you get the feeling someone you’re dating wants more, to avoid them feeling like they’re the rebound, just be honest. Let them know where you’re at and make it clear right now you’re not ready or wanting anything serious but at the same time, you’re mindful of how they feel too. It’s then up to them to continue or walk away.
Don’t be crushed by ‘bad dates’
If your confidence or perspective on dating plummets after a date that doesn’t go so well, you’re probably not ready to date. Put in black and white, you’re not going to have amazing connection with everyone you go on a date with and they won’t with you. See the fun in it; it’s an experience and even in the worst case scenario, a story! If dating makes you anxious about all of this then it’s probably an indication you should take some more time out for yourself.
In short, I think the right time to date again following a break-up is when you’re content being single and are able to approach it with the view of meeting new people, having new experiences and creating new memories regardless of the outcome. That you’re not looking to dating as a way to get back at your ex or find a new relationship because you can’t bear to be on your own, or to distract you from things you need to deal with alone. Dating isn’t just about you either – think about the people you’re dating. You want to be in a place where you can be your best self. This will make it so much better for you and them! Dating should be fun regardless of the outcome. We can often forget that!
Laura Yates is a relationship and dating coach specialising in helping men and women through break-ups and heartbreak.