After a breakup, you'll likely get more advice than you'd ever want. Depending on the type of friends and family you have, you might hear, "The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else." Or, they might tell you to take time off and focus on yourself. Or, if your friends follow celeb trends, they'll probably tell you to take up sculpting.
Sculpting aside, all of that advice could work, but ultimately, deciding when to move on from a relationship is a personal choice, says dating coach Natalia Juarez. "How long it takes for you to be ready to move on depends on a few different circumstances," she says. If you're the one who broke things off, then it's likely that you've been checked out of the relationship for a while. So it might not take much time for you to "move on" because you haven't been hurt. But, if you were the person who was broken up with, then recovering from the heartbreak might take more time. And, it'll take a lot of reflection, says Chloe Carmichael, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist. "We naturally are prone to go by our hearts, but sometimes it actually helps a lot to take a step back and use our heads to think strategically about what's really going to be the best thing for us," she says.
Go ahead and take time to wallow while sitting at home in your pajamas if that's what you need, but don't do it for too long."I don't want people to stay at home and bury themselves," Dr. Carmichael says. It's okay to take a break from dating, but use the time to reflect on what you want in your next relationship, and use that reflection to help determine when you're ready to get back into the dating pool.
"A person could want to date, but actually not be ready," Dr. Carmichael says. With everyone telling you to get back out there, it's easy to start dating again before you should. So Dr. Carmichael suggests taking at least enough time to think about what happened in your last relationship, and whether or not it's a pattern that you tend to repeat. "Some people get into the same relationships over and over again," she says. "They always overextend themselves or they don't know how to respect themselves in dating." So it can be helpful to find a relationship therapist or read a dating book that can help you recognize those patterns before you start dating again.
If you're not worried about repeating bad dating patterns, consider setting up an online dating profile, even before you feel 100% ready. "Sometimes we have to do what I call light or casual dating to help get us ready for more serious dating," Dr. Carmichael says. Juarez suggests taking at least three months after a major breakup to heal and to start thinking of yourself as a single person again, because bringing grief and volatile emotions into dating is never a good idea. But once you've done that, setting up a dating profile (even if you don't plan to go on any actual dates) can help take you from 80% ready to date to fully ready. "Mentally, getting matches on dating profiles can help you feel the realistic possibility of someone else," Dr. Carmichael says.
Once you have the profile, it'll be pretty clear when you're totally ready to get back into the dating pool, because you'll start noticing people who you think would make good partners. "It's almost like after a person is sick, and then their appetite returns," Dr. Carmichael says. "That's usually a positive sign." So if you find yourself salivating over the cute barista at your local coffee shop, that's a pretty good indication that you're ready to date again.