You met someone great. However, they are newly single. So how soon is too soon to date someone who just got out of a relationship? After all, isn’t it wise to let someone grieve and process their breakup? And if they haven’t fully done that, wouldn’t it spell trouble for your budding romance?
According to Laurel House, an eharmony relationship expert, generally speaking, there really isn’t such a thing as “too early” to date after a breakup.
“But when talking about each individual relationship, [it may be] ‘too early’ for some newly single daters,” she says. “For example, it may be too early to start dating again if someone is completely dependent on their former partner, their relationship, and hasn’t officially ended the physical and/or emotional connection.”
However, she points out that many relationships are truly over months if not years before the final goodbye. That being said, if there are still unresolved feelings and a connection remains, it doesn’t matter when the breakup occurred because there are still going to be some messy feelings involved.
“While some relationships end and the feelings dissipate right away, others are so emotionally and physically intertwined that it takes a lot of intentional work to be ready to actually move on,” House says. “And that’s the key: intention. It’s best to date intentionally after a breakup. Casually or knee-jerk-jumping on a random dating app in order to just see what happens is less likely to yield longterm results.” And it could spell heartache for you if you are dating someone who’s newly single.
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But every situation is nuanced. House says dating someone who just got out of a relationship “absolutely” can work out “as long as you are both intentional and communicative.”
Below are her tips on what to know about dating someone who just got out of a relationship.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
You found out your new match just got out of a relationship? This is your time to ask them questions so you can get some clarity. “Never assume that someone is ready to date again, or that they are even necessarily single,” House says. “You have a right to understand their current emotional and relationship state, because you are considering dating and possibly entering into a relationship with that person and you need to be protective of your heart.”
At the same time, she cautions against assuming that because the breakup was recent that they are not ready to be in a relationship yet. “Also don’t assume that they want some time to play the field before committing again,” she says. “Every individual is different. Some people get out of a bad relationship feeling more whole and ready and clear about who they are and what they actually need in a relationship in order to find a relationship that is right for them this time, one that is lasting and healthy. And that can happen immediately.” Which is why she says asking the right questions and having deep conversations are essential in order to know the true emotions and thoughts that lie beneath.
What are some good questions to ask someone who’s just had a breakup?
- How long have they been single?
- What caused the breakup?
- When did they know it was over?
- What steps did they take to try to save or fix the relationship?
- How do they feel towards their ex?
- What would they do if their ex came back and promised they changed and wants another chance?
- What did they learn from the breakup?
- What are they doing differently now moving forward?
- What did they love about their ex?
- What initially attracted them to their ex?
- What did their friends/family think about their ex?
- If they were in your position, would they be comfortable dating themselves?
What are some drawbacks to dating someone who’s newly single?
Even if your new love interest checks most of the right boxes, there are some things that might not work in the long run or could turn you off real fast. According to House, it’s common that feelings for their ex can resurface and they could want to give it another chance or they might still date as if they are in a longterm relationship, like having certain expectations of the first and last daily call or text, for example. They might also talk a lot about their ex, be it good or bad. Additionally, she says they “might want to just ‘hangout’ all the time together at home instead of putting effort into it and actually going out. They might call you their ex’s name and it’s not because they miss them, but simply because they are used to saying that name.”
They could also date “hurt-first,” meaning that “they lead with their pain, anger, sadness, and have the expectation that you too will hurt them,” House explains.
What are some common red flags that someone isn’t ready to date quite yet post-breakup?
It’s really normal to feel insecure about someone who is newly single. Being on the lookout for some common red flags could help you make the right decision when it comes to continuing the relationship or not. According to House, some red flags to watch out for include:
- Being triggered by the mention of their ex’s name.
- Someone hiding their phone or turning it upside down when they aren’t on it.
- They still see or communicate with their ex regularly.
- Their ex is still their go-to person when it comes to any good or bad news because their ex “gets” them.
And while the above is important, House says don’t forget to look out for the green flags that show someone who’s newly single is ready to date again. Such as:
- “They have taken the time to get to know who they are, what they need in a relationship, what was missing in their last, what they can do better this time, and how to communicate their feelings in a healthy way. They have been through hurt, they know how it feels, and they don’t want to feel that again or make someone else feel it, so they are intentional about talking about their feelings and needs.”
- “They check in with you and how you’re feeling in order to improve the chance of a successful relationship.”
- “They like how it feels to be part of a couple and know how to make space for you, both in their home and in their life.”
Above all, communication is key
If you have any sort of hang up regarding your new love interest’s past, House says it’s crucial to communicate. “Communication creates clarity, which creates confidence,” she saya. “Communicate how you feel, what you need, and how they feel and what they need. Communication will help give you clarity about the situation, and you will then have confidence in who you are as a new couple.”