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Five signs you might be ready for romance

Andy Phillips   |   Fri, 9 Dec 2022

If you’ve recently endured (or are enduring) a breakup, you might be wondering how long you should wait before you jump back into the dating scene. It’s a great question, and one without an easy answer.

The truth is that there isn’t a magic amount of time or an objective milestone that signals you’re ready to date again. Though well intentioned people might offer generic formulas, like “wait one month for every year you were dating your ex before getting back out there,” there’s no fool-proof prescription that works for everyone.

Breakups – and recovering from breakups – are extremely personal experiences, and your healing process will depend on everything from your personality to the specifics of your former relationship (time together, intensity of the connection, details of why you ditched or were dumped, etc.).

That being said, there are some general signs that could indicate you’re emotionally ready for another round of romance. See how your experience stacks up against these five scenarios. If more than one of these situations describes where you’re at right now, it might be time to get back in the dating saddle.

1) You're back to (and enjoying!) your pre-breakup routines and hobbies

When you’re going through a bad breakup, nothing feels fun, right? Hanging out with friends, hitting up the gym, or even engaging in polite conversation can be a serious struggle. Sometimes the only thing you feel capable of is hunkering down at home and making friends with your misery.

That’s why one of the first indications that you’re ready to dip back into the dating pool is when you feel a strong pull to engage in the things that make you, you. When you suddenly want to participate in your hobbies, when you look forward to socializing, when you can make small-talk without feeling so damn single … these are all signs that healing is happening. Pay attention to them. If you’re feeling a consistent sense of contentment, chances are good that you’re emotionally ready to take the plunge.

Man looking at and seeming attracted to a woman

2) You're excited about dating new people (but not desperate to dull the breakup pain)

This one is a big “duh,” but if you find yourself excited about the prospect of dating again, then you’re probably ready to do so! The key is being honest with yourself (and your potential partners) about where you are in the post-breakup process.

Take a moment to look inward: why are you excited to date? Is it because you’re truly “over it” and looking forward to the experience of meeting and connecting with new people? Or perhaps you’re seeking some casual hookups while you continue the process of mindfully moving on? Hot tip: both are fair reasons to play the field again. Dating can be a helpful step toward healing as long as you’re aware of your motivations and are transparent about your intentions.

However, if you’re dating in a desperate attempt to distract yourself from the pain of your breakup, you might want to press pause. Putting a Band-Aid on a wound that needs critical care can leave you with some nasty scars down the line. Seriously, nothing good comes from dating and intimacy if you’re using them to mask trauma.

Before you start dating after a breakup, conjure thoughts of your ex and the relationship you shared. Can you think about them in a healthy, composed way ... even if some of the feelings are still a little raw? Or is the pain so profound that you feel compelled to push it out of your mind by any means possible? If it’s the former, carry on, comrade! Get out there and date! If it’s the latter, you're definitely not ready for a new relationship.

3) You find yourself browsing dating apps more often

Here’s another tell-tale sign that you’re closing in on being ready to date after a breakup: you find yourself downloading dating apps or looking at them more often “just for fun.”

And yeah, it can be fun to peruse potential partners no matter where you're head's at post-breakup. Taking the occasional peek doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in a good place to start dating. But if you find that your interest is becoming more than casual curiosity, it could be an internal signal that you’re ready to put yourself out there again.

I know this sounds like a self-serving sales pitch, but if you’re at the stage where your apps are calling to you, check out a Couple online speed-dating event. It’s free, and it’s a great way to “practice date” and see how you feel when actually put face-to-face with a match. If you find that it’s still too soon for you to flirt and mingle, you can easily log off and try again down the line. If it feels natural and comfortable, awesome! Looks like you’re ready to date for real.

Two women flirting and laughing with each other

4) You begin to flirt ... and you have fun doing it!

After a breakup, being attracted to a new person or feeling flirty doesn't necessary mean you're ready to share your heart again. After all, some people are forever flirtatious, whether they're in a happy relationship, getting over one, or something in between.

But if you've spent a good deal of time post-breakup feeling done with dating, and then suddenly you find yourself happily flirting? That's a great sign that you're starting to heal.

It's important to examine your behavior in the context of the bigger picture. Are you feeling more like yourself? Are you back to typical routines? Could you bump into your ex without coming undone? If you answer yes to these questions and you're loving a good back-and-forth banter with someone you're attracted to, what are you waiting for?

5) Your friends and fam agree that you’re ready to date again

This fifth sign comes with an asterisk, because ultimately only you know if you’re ready to date again after a breakup. There are scenarios where encouragement (or discouragement, as the case may be) from fam/friends can prove a helpful barometer, but always take their advice with a grain of salt.

General rule of thumb: if you feel unready to date but your friends and family are pressuring you to get at it, thank them for the support but respectfully tell them to buzz off.

However, if you think you might be ready to date again, and your closest confidantes agree, you can feel pretty confident that you’re jumping into things with open eyes. Conversely, if you think you’re ready but your friends balk at the idea, take note. Sometimes our friends and family have better insight into our state of mind than we do ourselves, and they may be witnessing a struggle that we can't (or won't) see ourselves. The point is: hear them out and have a heart-to-heart with yourself. Ultimately you'll know when the time is right for romance.

There ya have it. Five signs you might be ready to date again. What do you think? Are there any other clues that suggest someone’s ready to date after a breakup? Let us know!


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