How soon can I date after a break-up?
I'm a college sophomore. Just recently, my boyfriend of two and a half years broke up with me. We haven't talked for almost a month. Since that time, I have done many positive things to change my life and myself. I'm wondering about dating. Is it too early? How do I go about it? Is it okay for me to date when I'm not at all over my ex? Or, should I hound him to give me closure, and do I need closure? Can I just move on? Should I ignore my feelings of being used and abused emotionally?
After a significant relationship has ended non-mutually, the partner who has been "dumped" often wonders about similar issues to yours. Working through these thoughts and feelings may be the next steps that you can take. Is it ok to move on now? Sure! Might you want to wait a bit to date? Possibly. There are really no "right" answers to your questions. Through some personal exploration (and reading the rest of this response), you'll learn the possible choices to help you move on.
You were with your boyfriend for two and a half years, which allowed you to develop and foster a relationship in which you got to know and care for him. It's natural for you to be "not at all over" him right now, as it's been only about one month since the break-up. It may just be that not enough time has passed for you to get over him... yet. You are grieving the loss of your relationship and may still need more time to mourn.
Wouldn't it be great if there were quick cures to the "break-up blues"? Unfortunately, there are no simple remedies, and at times, uncomfortable feelings and regret also come along for the ride. Regardless, some people may put a lot of blind faith into certain defined "break-up rules" in the hopes that they will feel better and move on soon. For example, it’s been said (and some folks believe) that it takes half the total time you went out with someone to get over your former partner. In reality, however, moving on itself has no clear-cut rules or timelines, and can often be a difficult process. You may just want to take the time you need because there is no rush.
It appears that you still have some unresolved feelings (your "feelings of being used and abused emotionally") regarding your ex and the break-up. Although you may not get an explanation or apology from him, what may be helpful is that you take as much time as you need to explore your own feelings of loss, sadness, anger, hurt, confusion, depression, or anything else that you may be feeling. Hounding him for an answer may not be the most helpful thing to do, as he may not give you the answer you're looking for, or it could cause more fighting or angst. Writing in a journal, talking with a trusted friend or family member, or meeting with a mental health professional about your feelings might be a positive next step.
You ask, "Can I just move on?" Absolutely. Continue doing the things that you enjoy, such as participating in clubs and organizations, playing sports, going to work, volunteering, or spending time with friends. Chances are that eventually you'll meet others with whom you share similar interests. You could also check out Need help to start dating in the Go Ask Alice! archives. Some of these new interactions could lead to potential dates, too.
Moving on after a break-up can be a time intensive process and there is no need to rush. Take your time and focus on meeting new potential partners when you’re ready.
Originally published Jul 28, 2000
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