When it comes to post-breakup dating, there are two main philosophies: One is that, if you date right after a breakup, you’re rebounding, which is unhealthy. Then there’s the whole idea that “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.” Which is right? How long should you really wait to date after a breakup?
Paulette Kouffman Sherman, Psy.D., psychologist and author of Dating From the Inside Out, says it’s hard to put a number on it—but you’ll probably want to wait at least a month before jumping back into the dating pool again.
“Most people need a month or two to process the breakup, to mourn, and to integrate lessons before jumping back in if they were in a fairly serious relationship,” she says. If you dated someone for a year or more, you may need three to four months. On the other hand, you might need less time if your relationship was very short.
More important than the specific amount of time you need, though, is the state of mind you’re in. You want to make sure you’re not still in post-breakup mode. You have to get past the (valid and often necessary) stage of curling up on your couch and really mourning the loss of your relationship and to the point where you’re back in the swing of work, hobbies, friends, and everything else your life normally includes. “This way, you will feel whole and in high self-esteem before you go back into the next relationship and won’t just be trying to fill that hole,” says Sherman.
Taking a break from dating after a breakup isn’t just about licking your wounds, though—it’s also about figuring out what you’ve learned and can carry over to your next relationship, says psychologist Sanam Hafeez, Psy.D. “The ends of relationships teach us so much about ourselves: our style of communication, whether that style is effective or not, how we handle insecurities, conflict, and co-existing as an individual and as part of a two-some simultaneously,” she says. Think about what your relationship and breakup taught you about what you want—and don’t want. Hafeez also advises making sure you’re not interested in dating just to distract yourself from your breakup.
So a fling or one-night stand after a breakup may not be a bad thing—but if you’re looking to get into another serious relationship, you’re probably better off waiting until you’re more or less over your previous one.
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