Moving on From Relationships: How Soon is Too Soon?

Have you ever gotten out of a relationship and walked right into the next one? If you have, then you understand my struggle. For some reason, people (who may or may not even know you) take this opportunity to barrage you with unprecedented comments like, “Wait, already?” or, “Don’t you want to take a break?” or the worst, “I didn’t even know you broke up with your ex. You’re already onto someone new?” 

Newsflash – if I didn’t care enough to tell you I ended my previous relationship, you definitely are not entitled to an opinion about my current one. But I digress.

Let me preface this by stating, moving on from something isn’t always linear. You go through phases but there’s no telling when or how quickly they will happen. You might also cycle through the same phase multiple times or skip it altogether.

You might be asking yourself, “Mercedes, what are these phases you speak of?” Hold your horses because I’m about to spell it out for you.

  1. 1. Phase one: Sadness and confusion

    Phase one can hit anywhere, anytime. Sometimes, it’s a week after you end the relationship. Other times, its months before you even decide to call it quits. Whenever it hits you, you can expect a big ol’ cinderblock of emotion – especially if you were or still are in love with your partner. 

    You may be sad for a few reasons: you know the relationship is over, you’re confused about your feelings, or you’re merely processing the fact something that once made you happy just doesn’t anymore. Whatever is making you sad, don’t push it away to avoid feeling it. As much as it hurts, you need this time to process whatever is going on in your brain.

  2. 2. Phase two: Regret and denial

    Much like the stages of grief, breakups also cause people to go through feelings of regret and denial. For me, this usually manifests as sleepless nights, tossing back and forth in my bed, and playing back every beautiful, memorable moment I shared with my partner. The first date, their smile, sweet texts, intimacy, time with family, the first 'I love you' and the last. 

    Regret encourages 2 a.m. texts to your ex and makes you think, "I'm overreacting, we don't need to break up!"

    Trust me when I say: pulling yourself out of the regret-rabbit hole is something you will probably attempt on multiple occasions. But once you succeed, never look back.

  3. 3. Phase three: Anger and self-deprecation

    Whether you instigate the breakup or your partner does, you'll likely feel some level of anger towards the situation. Whether it's towards them, or more often, towards yourself, most of us tend to lash out as a way to navigate our emotions. For me, this is usually a lot of smashing my face into a pillow, yelling, "Why, why, why was I so stupid?"

  4. 4. Phase four: Acceptance and reflection

    I am a firm believer that every relationship you experience, be it platonic or romantic, teaches you valuable life lessons. These lessons may be superficial in nature, like realising the type of person you're attracted to, or emotional and gradual, like understanding what you need in a partner. Either way, you learn something important from everyone you allow to enter your life. 

    Over time, you'll start to internalize these lessons and accept your relationship taught you something important about yourself. Take this time to reflect and acknowledge that you're alright and no, it wasn't a waste of time (so stop telling yourself that).

  5. 5. Have I really moved on?

    So we've established the phases. Cool. Now I'm going to answer the question you clicked on this article for: how soon is it acceptable to move on to a new relationship?

    Let's imagine a hypothetical scenario. Close your eyes (but not really; you do have to read this). Whether it's been an hour, a week, a month or a year after you ended your last relationship, you find yourself pining over someone new. Before jumping in feet first, I want you to ask yourself the following questions:

    Am I still in love with my ex? 

    Am I afraid of being alone?

    Is this a rebound?

    Am I doing this to get back at my ex?

    Do I think about my ex when I'm with this person?

    Do I feel dissatisfied with the way my last relationship ended?

    If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes', it might be a good time to reevaluate your feelings. You might not be ready to move on. 

    Keep this in mind though: the only person who can honestly answer these questions is you. You're the only person that really knows how you feel, no matter what other people want to believe. So make sure that you're really listening to your gut– it's usually right.

    If your answer to all of these questions is ‘no,’ congratulations! You have officially moved on!

  6. 6. Who really has a say in my relationship status?

    If you’re like me and you moved on ‘quickly’ from your last relationship, you’re going to be privy to outsiders opinions. Some may say, “Are you really ready to move on?” or “That was quick!” They’ll chuckle between sips of coffee, not realizing how invalidating their heartless opinions are.

    I’ve made it a rule of thumb to only take advice or observations from people who really know me. A great indicator to determine if someone’s concern for your moving-on-period is justified is if you trust them to convey their concerns about your relationship to you. I don’t listen to anyone who hasn’t witnessed first hand what I’ve been through. If my friends support my new relationship, no matter how short the turnaround is, I trust them to be honest with me if they think I’m moving on too quickly.

    In fact, my friends were the ones pushing me to pursue my new relationship when I was feeling conflicted. They were the only ones I talked to about the new person in my life, so they knew I was genuinely happy. Even after watching me go through hell and back, they could see that this was the right step for me. That’s true friendship.

  7. 7. Do you, boo

    If there's one piece of advice I can give you, it is to "f*** the haters.” Even when people aren't criticizing you directly, it's normal to feel judged by everyone around you. Turn off the 'share' feature on your Instagram stories. Ignore your insights.

    If you're ready to love again, to open yourself up to someone and something new, that is absolutely wonderful. As long as you're being honest with yourself about how you feel and what you need, you can be sure that you've set down the right path.

    Forget about what everyone might say or think about your life because you, my dear, are the only one who has to live it!