So You’re Not Really Over Your Ex, But You’re Already Dating Someone Else

Jumping into dating right after a breakup is usually chaotic. Your new relationship should be giving you butterflies as you learn about this new person in your life, when everything is unfamiliar and exciting. But if your last relationship is still fresh and you’re already committing to another person, you may not be fully over your ex.

Even if your last breakup was mutual, it can still be incredibly hard to move on, especially if you were in love with your partner. Whether you were with someone for six months or six years, to immediately start dating someone else either a few weeks or a few months later can create confusion. It can be hard to determine if what you’re feeling for your new significant other is genuine, or just unresolved feelings for your past partner. And if you’re flaunting your new love on social media, you may need to reexamine whether you’re flaunting it for yourself or for certain former ~special someone~. You also don’t want to end up hurting your new SO either.

No one ever said love was easy. Here are a few ways for you to assess whether you need to leave your old relationship in the past, assess your new relationship, or take some time for yourself.  

  1. 1. Reflect on how your last relationship ended.

    If your last breakup was a fiasco, most likely there’s a lot of unresolved tension regarding it. Additionally, if the end was sudden, you may have cut off all contact with your ex—meaning you didn’t have a chance to address all of your issues. If you’re already dating someone else but you never got closure, you may be projecting some of these feelings onto your new partner unintentionally.

    But if your last relationship didn’t go up in smoke and flames (and you’re still thinking about your ex as more-than-friends), you may need to figure out if you’re truly over them. You may still have a lingering fondness for the person you used to date, which is okay—or you may still have genuine feelings for them.  

    If you think you’re still holding out hope that this person will come back into your life, it’s probably time to break it off with your new SO.

  2. 2. Ask yourself why you started seeing someone new. 

    Think about what your true intentions were when you started dating this new person. Sure, maybe when you met them you weren’t entirely over your ex. Depending on the timeline, it could only be a few weeks or months since your breakup. If you felt like when you met your new partner it was an immediate attraction, your feelings could just mean you need more closure from your past. It doesn't necessarily mean the end of your new relationship, especially if you're really into your new SO. 

    However, if you only started dating again to prove a point or make your ex jealous...TBH, your new partner doesn't deserve to get dragged into that mess. It's not a healthy coping mechanism to try and make your ex jealous—plus, you just look petty! Consider placing things on hold or gently breaking things off with your new SO, then focus on achieving closure with your ex so you don’t engage in unhealthy habits going forward.

    Related: What Does It Mean If Your Partner Doesn't Delete Pictures of Their Ex? An Expert Weighs In

  3. 3. Figure out if you want to keep pursuing your new SO.

    If you’re already falling for the new person while still thinking about the old, that sounds like a beyond confusing predicament—we totally sympathize! While you may be cursing the poor timing, the truth is you have no control over when you meet someone you vibe with. You just have to figure out if the issue is timing, or rather the person themselves. If you still think you either need to pursue your ex or devote some more solo time to getting over them, your new SO needs to be clued in.  

    If you’re not hung up on your past SO (just the memories), you might owe it to yourself to keep exploring where this new relationship goes.

    Boston University junior, Rinka, says that she received some words of wisdom from a close friend when she started seeing someone seriously not long after an emotional breakup. “The advice I got was as long as it doesn’t interfere with how you feel about this new person, getting over someone takes time,” Rinka explains. “Just don’t let it influence how you feel about your new SO.”

  4. 4. Determine what you’ll need to get closure.

    Whatever you decide (either breaking it off with your new SO or staying with them), you’ll need some form of closure so you can officially move on from your ex. If you’re still on relatively good terms with your previous SO, reach out to them to and see if you can fully discuss why you broke up, because they could be feeling the same confusion as you. Just make sure that you are completely honest with your new partner if you do plan such a meetup.

    However, if contact is not possible or even healthy, there are other ways you can find closure. You can write out your thoughts, consult a friend, or seek therapy to work through what you’re feeling. You may never get a definitive reason for why a relationship ended, but you can reach a point where you are okay with it. 

  5. 5. Focus on yourself. 

    Through all of this, you need to account for the most important person in the equation: you. If you don’t tend to your feelings and emotions, you're going to feel confused and unsettled. Take some time to focus on your feelings, making sure that you’re secure and comfortable before you continue diving into something new. Whether this means scheduling some good “you” time, taking a trip with some friends and forgetting about your love life, or just developing a new hobby, you need to find a passion outside of your love life to keep yourself grounded.

Even if your last breakup was heartbreaking, each relationship teaches you something more than the one before. Just because one chapter is over doesn’t mean you should close the book on your love life. But just make sure that you take the time to really know you’re ready to date before you dip your toes back into the dating pool.