The desire to give — and receive — love is one of the most fundamental desires that any human can have.
We all want, crave and need love. Most of us (also) want sex, romance, conversation, affection, cuddles, snuggles and someone to text a daily "How's your morning going?" note with a smiley-face emoticon.
So when one relationship ends, it's understandable that we might immediately want to seek out another one. Sometimes, that's fine. And other times, the immediate decision to run from one relationship to another can be an issue.
Of course, there's really no "correct" length of time to wait before beginning a new relationship with someone after your previous relationship has ended. Every relationship is different — and every person is different, too.
But if you're wondering, "Am I rushing?" "Is this new relationship a good choice?" or "Am am I just 'rebounding'?" … start by asking yourself the following seven questions.
You might find the clarity you're looking for — and with that clarity, you're more likely to be able to proceed with clear intentions and avoid a lot of unnecessary heartbreak (for yourself — and for whoever you're dating).
1. Am I really "over" my ex?
If you are still filled with strong negative feelings about your last relationship — anger, guilt, shame, betrayal — it's probably going to be difficult to wholeheartedly invest in a new relationship, no matter how much you like your new partner.
It's essential that you resolve the negative emotions tethered to your previous relationship first (possibly with the help of a counselor, therapist or coach). Then and only then will your heart be truly open to love someone new.
Quick check: Can you talk about your ex calmly and compassionately — without feeling your chest constrict, your heart race or tears prickling your eyes? If not, chances are: you've still got some feelings that need to be resolved.
2. Am I running from something I don't want to feel?
When you're struggling with loneliness, neediness, disappointment and sadness, then whipping together an online dating profile and filling your calendar with coffee dates, dinners and movies (just to name a few examples) can be a quick way to distract yourself from what you are really feeling.
But that's not fair to you — or to whoever you're dating. So instead of jumping into a new relationship while you're still in "running" mode, it's far better to resolve your painful feelings first.
3. What are my real motivations for getting into a new relationship?
Are your motivations generous, positive and loving — or not so much?
Do you simply want to show your ex that you've moved on (a "revenge" relationship) or distract yourself from feeling pain (a "self-medication" relationship)? These motives won't support a lasting relationship. You're lining yourself and the person you're dating up for a great deal of unnecessary pain.
4. Am I just trying to "prove" that I'm desirable and worthy of love and attention?
It's not uncommon (especially after a tough break up) to get involved with a new partner very quickly to "prove" to yourself that you're still desirable and lovable.
Your friends may be contributing to this — setting you up on tons of dates now that you're "back on the market." And the energy-rush of being newly single is indeed exciting, but it's also something to be careful about.
Specifically, you don't need to get involved with someone in order to know that you deserve love. In fact, the healthiest choice right now might be to focus on giving yourself an abundance of love and care, rather than seeking it from somebody else.
5. Do I feel uncomfortable (even panicky, maybe) when I think about a future with a new partner?
This could be a major indicator that you're totally not ready for any kind of commitment. Taking that a step further, it may also mean that you're hoping you and your ex will get back together.
6. Do I understand why my previous relationship ended?
In other words, do you know the "lesson" contained in your last breakup? (Your lesson might be: "I can't allow someone to control me or constrict my life, ever again." Or: "I can't keep prioritizing work over the people in my life.")
This is a BIG one. Whatever your lesson may be, this insight and awareness is important. Without it, whatever caused your previous relationship to end is very likely to repeat in your next relationship, no matter how "good" it feels at the beginning.
7. When did I emotionally "leave" my last partner?
You and your ex may have just "officially" broken up six weeks ago, but perhaps your heart was "out" of the relationship and planning a different future years before that.
If that's the case, it's actually good news for your next relationship — because it's possible that you've been emotionally ready for a new relationship for quite some time.
After all, you never know when deep, lasting love will arrive in your life. It's entirely possible to meet "The One" just a few weeks after your relationship with "The Last One" has ended.
However: proceed mindfully. Treat yourself and others with care and respect. If you can honestly say that you are happy, whole and no longer holding onto any residual negativity about your last relationship then forge on!
If you feel like there's still "work" and "healing" to do, then wait. Take care of yourself. Grieve. Cleanse. Let go. Identify the lesson contained in your last relationship — and learn it well. Not until you do that, can you feel really, truly primed to enter into a new relationship.
Not because you're lonely, scared, angry or bored. Because you are really, truly ready to love — and be loved — like never before.