Most humans are social creatures, meaning we seek out and enjoy the company of other humans; being alone distresses us and we do not really want to be a solo act. After a breakup, most of the advice centers around getting back in the saddle and not giving up. In theory, this is sound advice, but what is often left out of the equation is the time involved. Everyone has a different timetable when it comes to moving on. It is not healthy to push yourself, or someone else, to speed up that process. Successfully navigating towards a new healthy relationship looks different for each individual and all should be allowed to work through the pain and journey at their own pace. While there are no real preset guidelines for when you should consider yourself ready, there are a few red flags that spotlight you are not quite there yet.
1. Stalking Social Media…. Whether it is their Facebook, SnapChat or Instagram account, you find yourself checking your ex’s status and following their activities. You analyze every post looking for clues to their happiness, regret or even new partner. This is extremely unhealthy and serves no purpose except to reopen your heart’s wound. Right after a breakup, it is a good idea to unfollow your ex. It isn’t necessary to block him/her, but you do not need to constantly be reminded of them and see their updates and pictures. If you still need a daily social media fix, you are not ready to move on.
2. Hoarding Momentos…. I once kept (for years) a used Band-Aid that the cute guy from the skating rink put on my knee when I slammed into the wall. In my defense, I was 14; but some people do have a hard time letting go of sentimental items. I’m actually not totally against keeping one or two things, in a box, just for memory lane walks. However, if you make a shrine or keep the framed photo of your vacation hanging in your bedroom, that is too much. You cannot find new love when the old one still occupies a space in your heart and on your wall. If you find the reminders particularly painful because of a bitter breakup, it might be best to just do away with them. You must decide to do what works in your best interest.
3. Showing Up ‘Accidentally’… You know where they buy their lunch and their coffee. You know their route to work and what they like to do on the weekends. You should not have to re-route your entire life, but if you find yourself showing up at these places with the hopes of running into him/her, you still have healing to do. The truth is, if they wanted to see you, they would. It sounds good in a song or a movie, to bump into an old flame and reignite the spark, but that very seldom happens in the real world. Do not ever make yourself appear desperate. Head up and feet moving forward.
4. Still Learning The Lessons…. You are not ready to move on to another relationship until you can adequately express what went wrong with the last one. Maybe it was simply bad timing, or not enough common interests, but there could have also been loyalty issues, cheating, emotional abuse, bitterness, resentment, anger issues, being unable to commit. The list is long and varied why couples break up, and seldom does the blame just lay on one person. We all bring baggage and issues into our love lives and the key to not repeating the mistakes is recognizing both the bad behaviors in ourselves and our partner. If we are unable to accept responsibility for our choices and our decisions, we are not ready to involve another person in our chaos.
5. Your Goal Is Revenge – If the only reason for dating again is for the word to get back to your ex, please spare everyone the pain and aggravation. Chances are they won’t care, or worse (for you anyway) be happy for you. You must find a way to let go of the past. Each new decision going forward must be made from a positive place, not a negative one. Focus on reclaiming your happiness and personal vision. Do not lose one more minute of sleep or peace trying to exact revenge on a non-relevant person in your future.
6. Looking for a Replacement – No one is ever going to be just like your ex, and no two relationships will ever be the same. If your goal is to try and find someone ‘just like him/her’, you are being highly unfair to the new person and setting yourself up for failure. You must allow the next person in your life to be a complete and unique soul. Sure, they may have similar interests, and possibly even the same hair color, but those are random pieces that make up just a part of their whole being. Just like you are irreplaceable, so is your ex.
I understand how important it is to feel relevant, desired and valued again. I want that for you almost as much as you do. The key is to do the work and put in the time to make sure you are ready. Check your motivations. Talk to a close friend if you are unsure and get their take on your emotional barometer. Be honest with yourself before making a decision to involve another’s heart. I promise the day will come when you are ready. Try not to rush the process out of fear or loneliness because it will boomerang right back to where you are now. Be patient and kind to yourself and use this time and experience to grow. Then when the right person walks into your life, you will be a strong and willing partner ready to get back into that empty saddle and ride off into the sunset together.
Hope With Abandon