Are You Over Your Ex? Are You Sure?

Check out these six ways to tell if you’re ready to meet someone new (plus three things to do if you’re not.)

By Alonna Friedman

he Big Breakup is behind you and your old flame is presumably purged from your life. You’re dating again, but why haven’t you met anyone worth a leg wax or new necktie? You’re vibrant, attractive and thoughtful. Why aren’t you clicking with anyone? Um, hello, you’re not over your ex! Your friends can see it—and your dates probably sense it, too. The only one who doesn’t get it is you!

“We often don’t see we are not ready [to date again] because we’re trying to be strong and protect ourselves,” says Gilda Carle, Ph.D, author of Don’t Bet on the Prince! How to Have the Man
Remind yourself of all the things you couldn’t stand about your ex.
You Want By Betting On Yourself. “We want immediate gratification to heal wounds so now that person X is gone, bring on person Z.” But getting involved with someone new only works if your ex is out of your system.

So how do you know you’re emotionally prepped to take a chance on love? These guidelines will help gauge your date ability. You’re ready if:

1. Your ex’s name is no longer part of your lexicon. “You need to talk about your ex to process the breakup and exorcise the person from your mind,” says Rhonda Findling, author of Don’t Call That Man: A Survival Guide to Letting Go. “But if you still make references to your ex months down the line, you’re still preoccupied.” That goes for praising and badmouthing your former flame.

2. You’ve erased all signs of him. Any reminder, no matter how cute or fuzzy, will let the relationship specter haunt you. Take those photos, the stuffed monkey, and the silly t-shirt from that weekend away and hide them in the back of the closet. Even less obvious bits of the past can keep you from moving forward. “I deleted my ex’s number from my cell because it came right before my mom’s so I saw his name all the time,” says Carla, 28, of New York City. “Then I got rid all the voicemails I had saved.”

3. Reminders of your ex don’t cause pain. Some things you can’t put up in the closet. Whether it’s the song you danced to when “I love you” was first uttered or hearing someone order your ex’s favorite sandwich in a deli, you should no longer get misty-eyed. Lots of people like roast beef on rye. It’s OK if you’re prompted to remember your former love briefly, but sad thoughts should not prevail.

4. Your ex has a new flame—and you’re happy about that. “I heard my ex was seeing someone new and I was jealous at first,” says Marie, 29, of San Diego, CA. “It was only when I stopped feeling sick to my stomach that I knew I was 100 percent over him.” When you feel genuinely happy that the other party has moved on, it’s time for you to do the same.

5. You stop comparing new dates to your ex. “You can blame it on lack of chemistry, but if you aren’t ready to start a new relationship, you’ll come up with any excuse for why the date was bad,” says Findling. You are over your ex when you can peg a bad date as just that — bad — and not blame the guy or gal for failing to live up to your ex.

6. Having the weekend to yourself feels fine. When your other half is gone being alone feels dreadful. How can you get through that unstructured time without that special someone by your side? But eventually that anxious outlook fades. “Weekends were always for couple time so it was hard to be single on Sundays,” says Linda, 32, of Englewood, NJ. “Then one day I woke up and was so relieved that I could enjoy some peace and quiet.” Once being solo is as appealing than being a duo, you’ll have better luck finding another (better-suited) partner.

Not over your ex yet? 3 tricks to get you on track
1. Think negative thoughts. People have a tendency to remember only the good parts. To edge closer to your “I’m so over my ex” status, remind yourself of all the things you couldn’t stand—“Why couldn’t he shut up during movies?” or “Why did she always have to change three times before leaving the house?” Even better, ask your friends to remind you. They’ll probably have plenty of ammo.

2. Get your new support system going. Got a new job offer? The ex may be the first one to pop into your head to call for advice, but don’t—call your sister instead. Rent going up again? Complain to a coworker. You need to reprogram who you turn to for support and advice, so your brain can really erase your ex’s presence.

3. Dream up your fantasy mate. We all think about what we (or he or she) could have done differently to make the relationship work. But rather than harping on “what if’s,” make a list of your top five dreamy characteristics in a future significant other. And share them the next time you’re out with your pals. Who knows? Maybe they’ve got just the person for you.

Alonna Friedman is so over her ex she couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.
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