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23 Signs You're Not Ready to Date Again, According to Dating Experts

Relationship experts say these red flags should serve as signs you're not ready to date again.

Many people say that the best way to get over a breakup is to find someone new. But that eagerness to move on quickly can lead to major problems in the relationship that follows. When you're so anxious to be part of a couple again, you can overlook glaring flaws in a new partner, repeat the same mistakes that caused your last breakup, or fail to actually allow yourself the time to get over your ex. Before you find yourself in a new relationship for all the wrong reasons, check out these signs you're not ready to date again, according to relationship coaches, psychologists, and more dating experts.

You haven't gotten rid of your ex's belongings.

Woman with Box of Momentos
Shutterstock/Africa Studio

Nobody relishes the task of packing up underwear and toothbrushes and handing them off to a former flame. However, if you haven't gotten rid of your ex's stuff yet—or are unwilling to do so—that's a clear sign you're not prepared to move on.

"You are not ready to date until you have a living space that is all yours," says Elinor Robin, PhD, a Florida Supreme Court certified mediator and mediation trainer and founder of A Friendly Divorce. "Get rid of it all."

You take any opportunity to bring up your ex in conversation.

group of three male friends sitting on a bench in neighborhood

According to Robin, an inability to stop talking about a former partner is a clear sign you're not ready for a new relationship. "Do not mention your ex unless someone asks," she advises. "If they do, keep that conversation to a minute or less."

Your self-esteem is still dependent on your ex.

young indian man inspecting face in mirror

Having your self-esteem tied to your ex and their judgment of you doesn't bode well for your future relationships. This type of behavior indicates that "your self-love and self-authority are not fully intact," according to relationship expert and spiritual partnership guide Alyssa Malehorn. "You're not ready to commit to another, because eventually you'll find yourself in the same inferior/superior pattern again."

Or you're using dating apps to boost your confidence.

white man swiping on dating app
Shutterstock/Kaspars Grinvalds

Of course it feels good to know that people find you attractive. However, dating apps are for dating, not for ego boosts. Using them simply to feel better about yourself can be exhausting, Malehorn says. "When attention from a dating app changes your mood and helps you to feel better about yourself, then you're setting yourself up to fall from that heightened state," she explains. Plus, it proves that you're not there for the right reasons and therefore not ready to open your heart to someone new.

You try to find out if your ex is on any dating sites.

young asian woman looking disappointed while she uses her phone on the street

Setting up a dating profile to find someone you're interested in? No big deal. Setting up a dating profile to see what your ex is up to? Huge red flag that you're not ready to date again. This is also true if you find yourself relieved to find that your ex isn't on any dating sites, "which points to you still being emotionally involved," says dating and relationship coach Jess McCann.

Or you frequent places your ex hangs out.

young black man talking to asian woman in grocery store

Nobody's expecting you to find a new gym, grocery store, or dry cleaner on the off chance you might run into your ex at the ones you frequent. That said, going out of your way to visit places you know they'll be is an indication that you are looking to "accidentally" run in to them in the hopes of potentially reconnecting, according to McCann.

You're still engaging with your ex on social media.

Man smiling looking at phone

Everyone checks out an ex on social media once in a blue moon. But if you're trying to get them to actually engage with you, you may be subconsciously "discouraging other people from contacting [your ex] now that they're single because you want to keep them available to you," says McCann. That's definitely not the mindset of someone who's ready to date again.

You post things on social media to get a reaction from your ex.

woman on facebook, reach a customer service rep

Is that sudden flurry of social media activity on your end an accurate reflection of what you're up to lately, or are you using it to prompt a response from your ex? Whether consciously or subconsciously, increasing your social media activity can be a way to bait your ex into communicating with you, according to McCann. "If they communicate with you, then you believe there is a chance to reconnect and rekindle the relationship," she says.

Ultimately, if you're posting those pictures just to get a reaction from your former flame, you may want to avoid entering a new relationship.

You get upset when you see photos of your ex having fun.

older white couple taking a selfie on a carnival ride

It can sting to realize that your ex can, in fact, have fun without you. But if photos of your ex looking happy are making you upset, McCann says it's a clear indicator that "you want them to be having fun with you instead."

You keep in touch with your ex's friends to find out about them.

white woman talking to man on couch

You can't be expected to give up your whole social circle after a breakup. However, if you're pushing for a friendship with your ex's friends—particularly ones you weren't close with before your split—you may be using your ex's inner circle to help you gauge how they're doing, says McCann. And that signals that you aren't ready to start a new chapter.

You keep making excuses to reach out to your ex.

Older woman on phone call

People who aren't ready to move on may find themselves making flimsy excuses to get in contact with their exes, like asking if something of yours is at their place. McCann says that in many cases, people do this because they're "afraid if you're completely out of touch, they will forget you." And if that's the place you're in, you're not ready to date again.

You're still counting on your ex as a plus-one.

RSVP card

Sure, you may have split up with your ex, but you can still count them as your date to your cousin's wedding in a few months, right? Not so fast. If you're still hoping your ex will play the boyfriend or girlfriend role when it's convenient, "you haven't accepted that you need to find another date" and therefore aren't ready for a new partner, McCann says.

You haven't done the work to heal from your last relationship.

sad woman laying in bed hugging her pillow

Breakups can be messy, and getting over them is often easier said than done. "If you haven't shed the tears, talked it out, and really done the internal emotional work to release the partnership, then you're not fully over your ex and you're not ready for a new relationship," says licensed psychotherapist Haley Neidich. She explains that people who jump into new relationships quickly often do so to "avoid dealing with the emotions around the breakup."

You haven't identified your past dating patterns.

couple arguing in kitchen

Licensed clinical psychologist Jodi J. De Luca, PhD, says it's important to take some time to recognize the type of person you're attracted to and why in order to break the cycle. She recommends "identifying traits each of these individuals have in common, taking note of what the outcome of the relationship was, and foremost, asking yourself if these types of character traits are a good match for you."

You compare everyone you date to your ex.

bad date

While there may be some commonalities between the people you're interested in and your ex, comparing every detail of your a new relationship to a previous one will only do harm to you—and your new potential partner—in the long run. If you're doing this, it's likely "because [your ex] is still heavily on your mind—and until you've moved on mentally, you'll continue to compare everyone to them," McCann says.

You get emotional about your ex on dates.

young asian woman crying at dinner

Having a deep conversation about past emotional wounds can open the floodgates for anyone. However, if the mere mention of your ex's name prompts an intense emotional response, it's probably too early for you to be pursuing a new romance. "If you cry about your ex during a date, an emotionally healthy person will usually walk away," says Robin.

You're updating your ex about your new relationships.

woman texting on a cell phone on the couch

Do you feel the need to let your ex know when you start seeing someone new? Do they demand information about whether or not you and that woman are serious? If so, you might want to hold off on starting a new relationship. "If you feel the need to keep your ex in the loop, you are not ready to date," says Robin.

You want to make your ex jealous.

30-something white couple kissing and taking selfie
Shutterstock/Elena Nichizhenova

If all you want is to make your ex jealous, you're getting into a new relationship for the wrong reasons. What's more, "no one wants to be the prop," Robin points out. She says anyone comfortable putting a romantic prospect in this position isn't ready to be a partner to someone new.

You're changing your personality to be what your new partner wants.

30 something white man and woman wearing leather jackets on the beach
Shutterstock/Vadym Pastukh

Your new girlfriend loves cats, so you love cats. Your new boyfriend wears a leather jacket, so you wear a leather jacket. If this sounds familiar, then it's time to pause on reentering the dating scene. When you go out of your way to court approval from new partners by mimicking their behaviors, "you compromise yourself in your next dating experience," Malehorn says.

You're looking for a soulmate.

man and woman, senior married couple standing on terrace at home together.

There's nothing wrong with believing in soulmates. However, looking for one right after a breakup puts undue pressure on a potential new relationship. "If you still believe that there is one perfect person that will complete you or be your perfect match in a relationship, then you're not ready to start dating again," says Malehorn.

You think your new partner is perfect immediately.

older asian couple kissing

It's easy to get swept up in the fun you're having with someone new, but if that means you think your new guy or gal can do no wrong, you probably have blinders on.

"It's easy to see your new relationship with rose-colored glasses," says Nikki Loscalzo, a therapeutic relationship coach at Savvy Strategies Relational Life Therapy. She also cautions against measuring your new partner's virtues by how much or how little they remind you of your ex.

You find yourself having the same fights in your new relationship as you did in your last one.

young asian woman looking down with man on bed behind her
Shutterstock/Cat Box

Does it feel like you're having the exact same fights with your new boyfriend or girlfriend that you did with your ex? According to Malehorn, "rehashing the same arguments, issues, or behaviors means that you're still attracting people who will trigger those unhealed wounds."

Your gut says you need more time.

depressed man sitting in dark room

Sometimes, all you need is your gut to tell you something's not right. "[It's] an evolutionary built-in mind and body phenomena, comprised of memories based on your life's experiences," says De Luca. "Your intuition has the foreknowledge [and] the insight to guide you toward making a decision based upon previous experience."

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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