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Our culture seems to think we can get over a bad break-up just by re-entering the dating pool. “Get back out there,” they say. “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone,” they say. But when has that ever been the case for matters of the heart? Relationships linger in our thoughts well after we say goodbye, and for most of us it’s actually a bad idea to jump back into another person’s arms (or bed) right after a break-up.

Of course, if you’re able to separate sex from emotional intimacy, hooking-up with someone can be harmless. But when are you ready to actually date again?

YOU AREN’T HUNG UP ON YOUR EX

One sign to pay attention to is how often you talk about your ex. If it’s been weeks since you’ve spoken of or alluded to your ex, you’re probably moving on from him (yay!).

YOU DON’T HATE BEING SINGLE

Some of us prefer to be in a relationship—which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, if you find yourself playing the role of a serial monogamist, it’s time to take a break and figure out why past relationships don’t seem to stick. Additionally, serial monogamists often feel uncomfortable being single, which can lead them to jump into new relationships without resolving the emotional baggage they are carrying from their last relationship. A general rule for anyone after a break-up is to wait until you’re comfortable being single before actively seeking a new partner.

YOU’RE NOT SCARED TO TRUST SOMEONE NEW

On the other end of the post-break-up spectrum are people who feel scorned by their past lover. Often, these guys are weary to date or trust again. If you’re avoidant or fearful of intimacy, it definitely isn’t time to date…YET. I suggest reading up on attachment styles—which are the psychological frameworks we use when confronting new relationships—and you may consider seeing a therapist who specializes in couple’s therapy. It is hard to overcome a fear of intimacy through willpower alone, unfortunately.

YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE BREAK-UP

Break-ups are rarely (if ever) one-sided. Taking ownership of your short-comings in the relationship is important for self-growth and developing new, healthier relationships. If you’re still pretending your ex was the only one with a problem, it’s not time to find a new bf.

YOU’VE MOVED OUT

This one is common sense: If you still live with your ex, wait until you’ve moved out.

YOU’VE MOVED ON

Most importantly, you should be over the relationship you no longer have before looking for a new one. That means you don’t wish you could work things out with your ex, nor do you wish misfortune falls upon him.

Nicholas Velotta is a sex and relationship researcher and writer located out of the University of Washington in Seattle. 

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