A painful breakup isn’t easy to shake. Yet friends and family may be urging you to get back out there and have a social life, “Get out there and go on a date!” But you are leery about exploring a new relationship.

It’s understandable, you might not be sure you are ready, or even if you are, you certainly don’t want to make the same mistakes as you did in the past.

You may doubt your instincts and fear that you will not make the right choice, or be worried that you won’t be able to handle another painful breakup.

How do you know if you are ready for dating after a breakup? It’s not that difficult to tell.

If you spend a lot of time wondering about your ex, what he’s doing or still thinking about getting back with him, let me wave that big red flag! You are not fully over the breakup. You need to back up and look at the negative feelings you are still harboring. If you are still stuck in the past, you can’t move forward.

For example, if your ex-boyfriend cheated in a previous relationship you may carry that negative expectation into the next relationship. Let’s say your new boyfriend tells you he has to work late and will try to call at 9:30 pm. For whatever reason, he wasn’t able to call until 11:00 pm. If you haven’t cleared that negativity from the previous relationship, you’ll automatically put him in the same box as your ex. You will find you new boyfriend guilty for something your ex did and that isn’t fair. Chances are you will start to sabotage your new relationship which is what we do not want. So take the time to heal from your past relationships before dating.

For you ladies, who are not thinking about your ex and ready to move forward, you have some work to do too! First, I want you to make a list of your must havecharacteristics in your companion. I must warn you to not do this exercise after watching Ryan Gosling in “The Notebook” because your list will not be realistic! To really get in touch with what you want in a mate, I want you to close your eyes and think about the things that make you happy like going for a walk, visiting your parents, traveling to new places or laughing.

By doing this you are able to visualize the characteristics you want in a man. If we use the example I gave above, you would want a man who enjoys exercising, who is family oriented, likes adventure and has a good sense of humor. All of these are inner characteristics and not outer attributes. Yes, we want a man who is attractive but it shouldn’t be the foundation of how we determine who is right for us.

Secondly, I want you to write down your deal breakers, the behaviors and beliefs that tells you to stop and don’t go pass go with a guy. This could be dishonesty, not being responsible, or disrespectful but whatever your deal breakers are (yes you should have more than one) you promise yourself if they appear you say good bye, hasta la vista or however you want to make your exit. Because the longer you stay in a situation, dating or in a relationship, that doesn’t honor you the longer you put your happiness on pause.

With these tools in hand you can be successful in dating. Dating is an exciting way for you to discover new things about yourself and others. So put on your big girl panties or sexy thong – whichever makes you feel more comfortable (wink) and be that confident woman who attracts everything she wants including Mr. Right.

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I would love to hear your comments below! How did you know you were ready for dating after a breakup?