Date night at the Arizona state fair.
Credit: Kevin Dooley on Flickr/Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Breakups are difficult to get through and can really take a toll on a person's emotional being. At first, the thought of ever dating again may seem an improbability, especially if a previous relationship ended with a lot of pain. When you break up with or divorce from someone you really loved, moving on is not always the easiest thing to do.

Life Changes

It's not uncommon for people to realize after they've gone their separate ways just how much of their everyday routine was linked to being with the other person. Married couples realize this to a degree since a legal partnership was in place, however dating couples can experience this as well.  The awareness of being alone on a daily basis can become acute after a breakup. These feelings may drive a need to immediately find someone new. Usually this is not a good idea because the heart and mind both need mending. This more often than not takes a bit of time. Plunging into new relationships only puts a temporary bandage on the pain and usually disguises the real feelings that need to be sorted through from the breakup.

It is sometimes difficult to decide when the time is right to start dating again. You need time to heal, but also don't want to recluse yourself extensively either. The time a person needs to "be alone" will vary from individual to individual. This is because working through grief, healing and other like emotions associated with breakups are very personal. There is no standardized "right" time, but there are a few general ways you can tell if you're ready to start thinking about dating again.

Think you are reading to start wading back into the dating waters? 5 signs you are ready to start dating again:

1. You Like Hanging Out with Yourself

A really good sign to know you are ready to start dating again is when you've reached a point where you are comfortable with your own company. Loneliness is difficult, but dating or getting involved immediately after a relationship ends typically results in a rebound relationship. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing to get out and have some fun, but people who immediately start to look for new relationships in order to fill the empty void left by the old one are searching for companionship with the wrong intentions. It is OK to spend time with yourself.

  • Pick up a new hobby or revisit an old one you'd dropped while in the relationship.
  • Start a new exercise regimen.
  • Learn new things. Take a photography (or other interest) class.
  • Maybe even pursue that college degree you'd always wanted.

These are only a few suggestions, but the possibilities are vast. The post-breakup period is the best time to really get to know yourself again and enjoy doing the things you like to do. Once you find you can spend weekends or evenings alone without feeling sorrowful about not having a date, this is a great sign of healing that leads into a readiness to move on. You might even notice you're smiling a lot more than you had been since the breakup.

Man jogging
Credit: Ernst Vikne from Skien, Norway/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

2. You Don't Cry at the Drop of a Hat

The post-breakup period is often gut-wrenching. Many people will see a lot of tears. If you jump into a relationship too soon and are still crying over your last one, this is likely going to negatively impact the direction of any new potential relationship. It's best to wait until the tears lessen and you're truly able to give someone new a chance and be able to focus on him or her instead of being interrupted with thoughts of your ex. Every relationship needs a time for grieving, and chances are the little things are the ones that make you cry. A photo, song or other special tangible memory often triggers tears for many people. Eventually there will come a time where the tears will lessen and perhaps those tangibles will trigger nicer memories instead of the need for tissues. When this time comes, this is another good sign you're ready to move on and try dating someone new.

3. Can You Talk to Your Ex?

This is a biggie if you and your ex share children or socialize in the same circles. When you talk or even see your ex, how does it affect you? Does it make you want to jump back into bed and pull the covers over your head and pine over what's been lost? Or does it instead feel no differently than bumping into any other friends or acquaintances? If you can see or talk to your ex without it ruining your day or bringing you back to a box of tissues, this is a good sign you're ready to move on.

Couple talkingCredit: Oscar Rohena Oscalito on Flickr/CC BY 2.0 with Attribution

Can you talk to your ex without sadness or anger? If so, this is a sign of healing.
(Photo credit: Oscar Rohena Oscalito on Flickr/CC BY 2.0 with Attribution)

4. Wistfulness Turns to Hope

When you wake up in the morning and the first thing you think about is your ex and (s)he is the last thing you think about before going to bed, this is a sign you perhaps are not ready to start seeing someone new. It's not fair to you or a new potential mate if your daily focus is still all about your ex. 2 Instead, wait a little longer until a time where reminiscences become just memories and not wistful thinking or "what ifs."

When those strong feelings associated with your ex begin to fade and you begin to feel hopeful for a new day and what's ahead and it isn't related to your ex, this may be a good time to enter the dating circle again.

RainbowCredit: Leigh Goessl

A sign you might be ready to start dating again is when you wake up seeing a rainbow of hope  (Photo credit: Leigh Goessl)

5. Love Finds You

When you try too hard to find a new relationship to fill the emptiness left by the old one ending, be careful it does not end up as "looking for love in all the wrong places", as you might find yourself in a bad or destructive relationship.

The upside to not rushing into a new relationship is that love typically finds you when you least expect it. One day you'll be pining away for your ex and then suddenly a new person will add light and grab your attention. This typically isn't planned, not sought out, but instead love finds you.

Knowing the right time to start dating again isn't always clear cut and it's different for every breakup. Some people are ready sooner than others. The emotional pain associated with a breakup has to be healed before you can move on, else the pain is always lingering underneath the surface just begging to emerge. In order to move on, it is best to try and resolve feelings and issues with past relationships before entering a new one. The good news is time is indeed a healer and does mend most, if not all, wounds.

Even when the breakup is something you wanted, making the transition from couple to single can be a bit of an adjustment. Up until now you've always been a duo. Now you're solo and this change can take some getting used to. Often this realization magnifies the feelings of loneliness, despair or just plain unhappiness after a relationship has been severed. The time-frame needed to mourn and get over a past relationship is different for everyone, but over the course of time, the heart does begin to prepare itself to move on and consider new relationships. When this happens you'll be ready to start dating again.