Too soon?
February 21, 2011 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Should I begin dating again or force myself to take some time off?

I'll try and avoid the tl;dr...

My ex and I dated for about nine months and broke up a month ago. On paper she was just about everything I could ask for, and I thought we had serious Long Term Potential. The breakup was somewhat complex, but she ended it in large part over trust issues stemming from an indiscretion on my part within the first month of our relationship when we first agreed to be exclusive. I didn't honor that, it was my fault.

I really love(d) her, and I still feel immense regret over my actions and how things ended. I still love her, and if she called me today to say "Let's try again" I 90% probably would. Initially the thought of dating again sounded repugnant. "Ugh, what a waste, I don't want anyone else."

This week I resurrected my OkCupid account and was just looking around. I haven't sent/received any messages but the prospect of dating again seems palatable, all the while I don't think I'm ready for a relationship.

I'm 29 (today, yay me) and this was my second serious relationship since I was 24, with maybe a month of single time in between between the two relationships. I was single through law school before that, but, well, didn't have much free time to make it count.

- Should I force myself to take a break? Is this too soon?
- Am I just seeking female attention as a distraction and to bolster my ego?
- Is is disingenuous to start dating again when I am so soon out of a relationship? I understand dating doesn't presuppose it matures to a serious relationship, but no one really wants to potentially be rebound material do they?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Date. Soon. As often as you can, with as many as you want.

If I could go back in time to mopey little me in my 20s, I'd tell him that not only are there more fish in the sea, the sea itself is way, way bigger than you think it is, and filled with far more interesting, wonderful people than you know.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:29 AM on February 21, 2011 [8 favorites]

I personally would consider the nature of the "indiscretion" after you'd agreed to be exclusive. Is it possible that you're not clear on what you want in a relationship? Ie, if you'd agreed to be exclusive, why did you commit the indiscretion? (I'm assuming it wasn't just "send the pretty lady over there a drink, bartender!" but something more significant.) It won't do you much good to find another serious relationship and mess it up with indiscretions if what you really want is casual relationships; equally, if you're driven to be indiscreet while still really wanting a serious relationship, you might want to work that out first.

I'd say hold off on dating and think about things for a while...unless, of course, a really flawless prospect turns up, preferably in the flesh. Don't do generic dating until you have some idea of what you want.
posted by Frowner at 9:41 AM on February 21, 2011

Hm. Interesting. I could have written this exact post, except I am a year younger and interested in dudes. Every friend I have spoken to has suggested that I "take a break" and "mend my heart" and wait until I find "Mr. Right" or something. I wonder if you are going to get the opposite response, because your post could easily be interpreted as having been written by a guy and not a girl, which means you can do what you want without being considered trashy...

Anyway, I am totally contentious and contrarian, so I did not heed their advice. Take that datapoint however you want.
posted by vivid postcard at 9:43 AM on February 21, 2011

If you're really over your ex already, sure, why not?

I will say, though, that it took months between my last breakup and actually going out with someone else. Even then, while I was on the date I felt like it was too soon, and I really didn't enjoy myself. Eight months later, I'm only recently back in the OK Cupid game in any legitimate way. I still haven't initiated any "relationships" to speak of.

So, yeah, try it out, see if it works for you. Why not? The worst that could happen would be that you go out with someone and don't have a good time.
posted by Sara C. at 9:46 AM on February 21, 2011

That said, if you are dating without any desire to jump into a big relationshippy relationship, you need to be totally up front about that. Otherwise: tears, bad karma, and the like.
posted by vivid postcard at 9:46 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do what you want, which sounds like it's dating. Either way's not going to result in any sort of long term damage to yourself. You'll have more fun if you don't feel like you're denying yourself, and you'll get over your ex faster if you have new interests, even if they're not very serious and don't go anywhere.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:48 AM on February 21, 2011

I understand dating doesn't presuppose it matures to a serious relationship, but no one really wants to potentially be rebound material do they?

If this is how you feel, just be honest with the people you date. Really, really honest about the fact that you want to date but you don't want a serious relationship. Even then, it's likely that some girls will say they understand but in their heads, be in denial of this and develop feelings for you. Make sure you don't lead those girls on. If you can tell someone is developing feelings for you, don't continue with casual dating even if they agree to it.

If you're just careful/conscientious with people like this, I don't see any problems with what you want.
posted by Ashley801 at 9:54 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Break ups suck, and I don't know if the decision to date/not date will ease your pain. Do you want to go on dates? Or do want to take time off? There's no wrong answer, so listen to your intuition and move ahead. Good luck dude, I'm pullin for you!

posted by Bunsen Betty at 10:12 AM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

no one really wants to potentially be rebound material do they?

When I was your age, I was coming out of a relationship I'd been in my entire adult life. I didn't want a relationship but I really dug the freedom that being single gave me and I really liked getting attention from lots of new and interesting and hot people. And you know what -- this is going to sound conceited but I'm sure it's true -- they sure didn't mind being my rebound material.

You know why? Because I didn't treat them like that. I was just fun to be around, I was upfront about my intentions, and I usually got the same in return.

There's nothing wrong with attention from other people bolstering your ego - as long as you treat those people like real human being with emotions and give them the respect that deserves.

In other words, have fun and good luck.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:16 AM on February 21, 2011

2 sentences:

Should I begin dating again or force myself to take some time off?
I still love her, and if she called me today to say "Let's try again" I 90% probably would.

Take some time off, unless you find someone who has a fetish for dudes who aren't over their last chick.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:56 AM on February 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

Start dating if you want, but if I were you I'd make a hard an fast rule that you won't go exclusive with someone for at least another 6 months.
posted by auto-correct at 11:01 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dude, leave the old girlfriend behind. There's someone else out there with all of her good points and fewer of the bad ones. Go out and enjoy your birthday! Disingenuous? Please, what do you think people do when they break-up, sulk in the corner for six weeks for every month they went out? Pretend like you're a care-free person for a while, because you seem inordinately invested in relationshippiness, like there's no reason to mix it up romantically unless you're going to OMG LOVE.
posted by rhizome at 12:04 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I often find myself in the same predicament, post-breakup. I suppose I'm kind of in it right now. I've made up a solution I'm calling The Lazy River Ride.

Online dating means actively looking for someone, which is stressful and often times not fun, if I'm not ready. However, the forced months of celibacy means I might miss out on something great. I would prefer something in the middle.

So, enter The Lazy River Ride. It's the middle ground between online dating and celibacy. It just means focus on yourself, your work, and your friends, but go out on dates/hangouts comfortably and when the situation arises. Like if you met a girl at a party and hit it off IRL.

But by all means, tell her what you're in it for. If you do end up liking this girl for relationship material, more power to you both.
posted by functionequalsform at 12:14 PM on February 21, 2011 [12 favorites]

I could have written your post, except I'm older, it's not my birthday, and I'm a girl.

And I'm also riding the Lazy River Ride. (New meme alert!) That's my suggestion to you.

And if you can't do it, don't worry. I've dated a few guys who weren't over their ex. One got over her quickly after meeting me, and the other two didn't, but it was hardly the end of the world for me.
posted by xenophile at 2:34 PM on February 21, 2011

there's no such thing as universal rebound. if you fall in love with someone, you'll want a relationship. if you don't, you'll tell her you're not over your ex. so date and see what happens. and be honest.
posted by Maias at 3:51 PM on February 21, 2011

Big fan of the Lazy River Ride. On that one right now, post divorce.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 4:42 PM on February 21, 2011

Ah, I broke up with my ex when i was 28, started dating a month later, and met my husband a month after that. I thought I was in love etc. etc. with my ex. I say go for it.
posted by bananafish at 8:57 PM on February 21, 2011

Ugh, as someone about to *seriously* embark on another online dating stint, please do not inflict the rebound Lazy River Ride on unknowing others. Better to be totally upfront and say "not interested in anything serious" in your profile than wasting people's time if they are actually ready for relationships.
posted by yarly at 4:27 PM on February 22, 2011

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