Dating after a breakup can be so much more difficult than just dating casually, as your mind may feel defeated after going through an emotional roller coaster. That said, just because you either ended things or got dumped before, doesn’t mean you need to feel down in the dumps, swearing off dating altogether.

As someone who went through an awful and heartbreaking split about 1.5 years ago, I know firsthand why rushing back into dating is both a crutch and a bad idea. On one side, after being in a relationship, it’s easy to fall victim of the security that someone brings you, always having a person by your side to experience things with. On the contrary, rushing back into dating to fill that void isn’t the right thing to do, as you’re trying to ignore the necessary steps of recovery.

That said, how long should you go before dating again after a breakup? Well, I give you some tips that should (hopefully) help give you a roadmap.

Wait till you’re doing things for you, not for your ex

It might sound super strange to say that, but, be honest, if you were the one who got broken up with — which I was 1.5 years ago — you tend to find yourself wanting to find a new girl to stick it to your ex-girlfriend. That’s great and all, if it’s what makes you happy in the moment, but don’t just go finding a rebound for the heck of it. Furthermore, why be petty just to show your ex that you’re not damaged goods, so to speak? Make decisions for you, not anyone else.

Wait till you find the right person

That old saying of, “when you know, you know,” definitely holds true when it comes to dating after a breakup. Sure, you’ll probably reach a point where you’re talking to a bunch of different girls and maybe even going on a few dates, but, when it comes to finding a new girlfriend, take things slow and get the casual dating out of your system. Look, if you’re in this for the long road, you don’t want to just snatch up the first girl that gives you attention, so be picky and don’t make the same mistake by getting a girl equal or less than your ex.

Wait till your life gets back to normal

Your life’s going to be hectic for a while, that’s just the way it goes. So don’t think that you’re ready to jump back into dating after a breakup to help find balance, because you’re kidding yourself if you do. Find a routine that works and some hobbies that are fulfilling. Once you slow things down internally, you’ll be much happier and energetic about getting back into dating again.

Wait till you find happiness with yourself

As mentioned above, when you start doing things for yourself and not others, you’ll be most happy. After a breakup, you’ll realize how much free time you actually have to yourself, giving opportunities to try new things or rediscover hobbies and/or your interests. Once you’re happy with where you’re at and mend friendships that may have taken a hit during your relationship, that’s when you should start dating again, because you’ll be at your best.

Wait till you actually want to date again

It really is this simple, guys. Look, we all, presumably, want to get laid regularly and enjoy dating around. But, if you’re not ready to put yourself back out into the dating pool, then don’t, there’s no set plan that is universal for everyone. You’re probably going to be hurt, bitter and confused, among other emotions, and it’ll take time to heal those wounds. Once you do, though, get back out there and have some fun before rushing right back into a new relationship, you deserve to shop around for the right person.