I have heard many different opinions on how soon is too soon to date after a break up and they all vary... In my personal experiences I have found that some 'time off' is best after a break up and a friend of mine recommends at least 6 months. I've also heard it said that if you're still talking about 'them' or thinking about them, then it's too soon!
I once heard in a movie that a good rule of thumb is a week for every month that you were together or a month for every year. So if you were say married for 3 years, then you should wait at least 3 months but if you were dating for say 6 months, then at least 6 weeks before you decide to get back out there. I would say much longer if for some reason the relationship was abusive in any way in order to give yourself time to evaluate the why's and how to avoid a similar relationship.
I was filming on the set of a new movie the other day and met someone who had just broken up with their live-in girl friend the day before. He was already on the prowl (so to speak) and was anxious to get back out there. I can understand that maybe because he's getting up there in age he may be a little impatient and looking for a companion however it is not logical if you ask me.
Jumping from one relationship to the next in the past for me proved to be not a wise choice for numerous reasons. One common reason is 'the rebound' relationship usually never turns out well as we seem to carry over our habits and reactions from the previous relationship. Let's say for example the person you were living with had habits and behaviors that may have been demanding and your typical reaction was to tune them out or snap back at them... going into a new relationship almost immediately would typically cause you to have the same reactions to the new person and hence, you basically just created the same identical relationship, just with a new person. If you allow yourself time alone and time to heal then the chances of your having the same relationship will be less likely.
If by chance you were in a somewhat 'controlling' relationship and your reactions to that was either to bow down and do what you're told or to rebel and do exactly the things that person didn't want, then again, you're carrying old baggage into the new relationship. In many cases the new person may not be controlling at all and may just express concerns or desires and instead of hearing them for what they are, you're initial reaction may be one of frustration and / or anger, carried over from the resentment you felt from the previous relationship.
Although I myself have been guilty of 'jumping' into a new relationship almost immediately after a break up, I don't recommend it. I used to think 'well this time it'll be different' or 'he's a great guy and I can't wait or I might miss out' are all things that only seemed to get me into trouble and have repeat relationships, even though it was not my intention.
I would have to agree with my friend, at least 6 months is a good rule of thumb if you had a serious relationship. Now if it only lasted a few months then I'd say wait at least 6 weeks and allow yourself time to be with yourself for a bit. Get back into a normal routine of doing things on your own, remember the things you liked to do and maybe didn't get to while you were in a relationship.
Another thing I've learned the hard way, is to remember that when you are in a relationship to always have some 'me' time. I have found myself being guilty of this too... when in a relationship we sometimes give up our 'me' time for 'we' time and in essence may neglect to do the things we truly enjoy doing. For some it may be reading a book, surfing the internet for the latest news, playing a video game or for me personally, it was reading and doing my tarot cards.
Not a lot of people are understanding of how fun and accurate tarot cards are and so to avoid conflict, I wouldn't do my cards for fear of an argument or being ridiculed. Now, before entering a relationship I know to make sure that there are no misconceptions or disagreements about tarot cards because I don't want to be with someone that isn't open-minded and understanding that they aren't 'bad'. My ex-husband was ok with me doing my cards but he seemed to have feelings of neglect if I chose to read a book! He didn't like it when I wrote or read because he felt he was being ignored or that I spent too much time reading. I personally like to read a book almost non-stop, so it may take me a couple of days to finish a book and I choose to read it in every bit of my spare time. I just find that one absorbs it more if you don't put it down for a few days and it's just more enjoyable and memorable if you read it from cover to cover.
Now, after doing research I've learned that it's actually advised that in order to maintain a healthy relationship one must do things that they enjoy doing, especially having their personal 'me' time to do the things that make them feel like 'themselves'. Now obviously there are some things that being in a relationship causes us to change about ourselves, like going out with our single friends to clubs into the wee hours of the night. Most people know that clubs are technically a 'meat market' and if you're drinking you're putting yourself in a dangerous position for the chances of cheating. Our senses are dulled, our judgment and decision making become blurred and let's face it, when 'we' drink we just aren't thinking straight. It's best to change anything that puts you in a position to make poor choices and may cause one to cheat... just saying.
Back to the subject at hand, I must say that if you're in fear of being alone or in the case of my new friend, he's just looking for someone to enjoy life with; I would have to say take it slow! Yes life is short, but in the long run if you allow yourself some time before jumping into another relationship, the chances of that relationship being more successful increase. If you allow yourself some 'me' time before pursuing a new person / relationship, your goal of having a successful relationship may actually have a better chance of survival as opposed to repeating the previous relationship and the same or similar problems.
So if you just broke up with someone, whether by your choice, their choice or mutual consent, ask yourself "do I want the exact same relationship or do I want one that could possibly last a life time?" If the answer is one that could possibly last a life time, then I say WAIT! Give yourself some time and learn how to enjoy being on your own for a bit... remember the things that make 'you' YOU! I've heard it said many times that if you can't be 'alone' or are afraid to be alone, then that's exactly what you must do, for if you can't stand yourself, what makes you think someone else can? In the silence, one learns who they truly are... and in order to fully love another, you must be able to fully love yourself so if you aren't able to be alone, what does that say about you?
Another thing my new friend said is that he didn't hear her express that there were any problems, he never saw it coming. Which leads me to wonder, was she in the relationship alone or did she feel alone? Sometimes we just go through the motions and take others for granted, this too would be something that I would be analyzing about myself if it were me. It also makes me wonder about how much he was interested in what I had to say but yet didn't hear her? Does that mean that he only shows true interest for a short time and maybe down the road thinks he knows all 'her' stories and in effect doesn't 'talk' to 'her' anymore? Another few things to consider in your 'down time' are all the points or reasons for the break up, to avoid those issues in the future we must figure out what it is that we did to contribute to the other person's choice to leave. If you jump into another relationship too soon, you're missing out on the time needed to understand what may be key issues that 'you' personally have. Are you so absorbed in yourself that you didn't hear their cries for more attention or meaningful conversation?
It's easy to blame the other person and say things like 'oh they found someone else and were cheating' or 'they were just unhappy' and shrug it off as if we didn't play a part in their being unfaithful or not being happy... the key here is that usually a person doesn't stray if their needs are being met, so what did you do to contribute to them WANTING to find someone else?
In short, take some time off after a break up and get back to the basics... figure out what it is you did or didn't do, how you contributed to the break up and dissatisfaction of either yourself and /or your spouse. Figure out what it is you like to do with your free time so that in your next relationship you set some healthy boundaries and time for yourself.
Also, a good thing to contemplate is what you are looking for in a relationship and in a spouse so that you know it when you see it. I know not everything is the way we want it to be or expect it to be, nor are people, but there are some things that we can choose in a mate as far as our personal preferences. For example, I prefer someone who believes and worships God, someone who doesn't drink or drinks only a couple times a month (or less) and someone who is spiritual and believes in things such as reincarnation, karma, being kind to animals, wants to have kids and likes to read. I also observe things like their temper, if they get jealous or have control issues. (Of course my list is longer, this is just an example.) We all have our personal preferences and I believe that we should take our time and get to know someone before we jump into a relationship that may not be what we thought it would be or hoped for.
Jumping into relationships before truly getting to know someone is one of the main reasons that I believe causes 'us' to make a poor choice and land ourselves in abusive relationships. Abuse can come in many forms, whether from someone who is controlling, jealous, have mental issues, or as far as someone being physically or mentally abusive. Take your time and choose wisely, your life may depend on it!
Love & Light,