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On the road to true love and finding Mr. or Ms. Right, we all go through ups and downs, as well as endings and new beginnings.

We’ve all heard the expression, “you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.”  Although this is not always true, most people date many frogs before meeting the right person.

Our dating experiences teach us about ourselves and what works for us and what doesn’t.  There is something to be thankful for in each of our connections, but the end of a relationship can still be difficult and overwhelming.

Breakups commonly bring a variety of feelings, such as shock, loss, confusion, sadness and loneliness mixed with relief, clarity and motivation to move forward.  Regardless of who ended it, a breakup is a valuable opportunity to heal, grow and reflect for greater success in future relationships.  It is a time to take care of yourself and search within.

My clients who are grieving the loss of a relationship and who are motivated to find love again wonder how dating will look in the future. Many of them ask me how they will know when they are ready to date again.

I see a tendency for my clients to set a self-imposed length of time between a breakup and their next relationship, which I view as a method of tackling the tricky nature of knowing when they are open to love again.  The length of time they state varies drastically from several weeks to months to years and in many ways, it protects them from being hurt and vulnerable again.

Although setting a timeframe may be useful, it can interfere with your internal compass of readiness if you discover that you want to date sooner. Making the time post-breakup valuable for reflection and growth is more important to your happiness than how much time has passed.  I also tell my clients, “You will know when you are ready to date again if you really listen and trust yourself. “

Here are four pointers to help you determine your own readiness:

  1. You have learned from your past relationship and breakup. You have gained knowledge about your strengths and weaknesses as a partner and you have examined your role. You may have learned that you allowed your ex to treat you poorly or that using healthier communication will bring you a more satisfying relationship next time. You now have a greater awareness of your wants, needs and values.
  2. You are at a point where you don’t blame everything on your ex and you can see your part. The phrase relationships are 50/50 doesn’t leave you feeling defensive and angry and you have shifted into feeling more at peace with your past.
  3. You feel emotionally ready and have grieved the loss of your relationship.  You are not devastated by the thought of him or her and are not constantly reminded of your past relationship.  At your core, you feel that you are on the path toward healing or have reached a place of resolution.  You have spent time understanding the past but realize that it does not have to dictate your future or impede on your goal to create a happy, loving relationship with someone new.
  4. You want to date for the “right” reasons. You are not using dating to take away your pain, fix the past with your ex or rid you of the loneliness you feel being solo. You are not dating just because “everyone” has a partner or says you should. You generally feel good about yourself, you want to share a life with someone and you look forward to enjoying the intimacy and companionship that healthy relationships bring.

Using the four signs of readiness as a guide, check in with yourself to ensure that dating feels right for you.  It is natural to have to motivate yourself to get back out there, so focus on balancing any anxiety about dating with excitement and hope.  Empower yourself while remembering that it may take many frogs to find lasting love and it is worth it in the end.

Rachel Dack

Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (L.C.P.C.) and a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) who provides psychotherapy and relationship coaching to individuals and couples in her Bethesda, MD office and over the phone. Rachel specializes in dating and relationships, anxiety, self-esteem, mindfulness and personal growth.  Rachel helps her clients value themselves and find happiness within, leading to healthier relationships with others.  To connect with Rachel or to learn more about her psychotherapy and relationship coaching services, please visit www.RachelDack.com.  For daily inspiration, relationship guidance and mental health tips, follow her on Twitter (@DackCounseling).

What Do You Think?

2 Comments | Join the discussion

  • PDog Aug 6, 2013 at 7:29 am

    I love reading these posts everyday. It’s just a quick shot of motivation. To let you know it really is okay to be sad and take the time. And it’s not important to rush back in but to take some time for yourself, and when that’s in check, then you can move on to the next step. Although I consider myself stable & smart, the heart can mess with your head so it’s important to really think clearly before making the next step. A little self-analysis if you will.

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