After my divorce was final, I thought I was ready to date again. I was looking forward to starting the next phase of my life--the "happily ever after" phase. I was looking forward to falling in love again.
My first few post-divorce dates were awful. I didn't know what to say, and I didn't know how to be a good listener. I thought dating would be like riding a bike, something that would instantly come back to me as soon as tried again. Except I kept falling down, and I really sucked at dating.
Then it dawned on me. I really sucked at dating because I just wasn't ready yet. So I slowed things down, and I tried to be patient. I talked to my friends (both women and men), and I asked them to give me their collective wisdom on the subject of dating and relationships.
They told me to take my time. Get to know yourself. Learn how to enjoy time with yourself. Know that love will arrive in your life at the perfect time.
When the time was right for me, I started going on dates again. This time around, I enjoyed the process. I was relaxed, and I was ready. And, yes, when the time was right, I fell in love again.
So here's what I learned about falling in love again after a breakup. Based upon both personal experience and the wisdom of others, here are the 5 signs that will let you know when you're ready to fall in love again.
1. Your heart is healed. That dull ache inside you is gone, and you don't feel like there's a gaping hole in your chest. You no longer wake up in the morning dreading the start of a new day. In fact, sometimes you even wake up with a sense of optimism and hope. The word "brokenhearted" no longer applies to you, and you know that the worst is behind you.
2. You don't hate your ex anymore. You are past the "I hope the jerk dies" phase. You're also past the "I hope the new partner dumps him/her and breaks his/her heart" phase. You remember that you used to be in love your ex. Some days you actually want the best for them. Not every day--but some days.
3. You feel comfortable about your life right now. Things aren't so bad anymore. In fact, you have a lot to be thankful for. You feel comfortable in your own skin. When you look yourself in the mirror, you like the person staring back at you. Sometimes you have really good hair days, and that makes you smile. And your sense of humor is back.
4. You believe that you deserve to be happy. Moping around the house is no longer an option. You've gotten past feeling unworthy and unlovable. Now you know how to pull yourself out of the occasional funk and get your mojo working. Everyone deserves to be happy, and every day you find moments of joy.
5. You want to fall in love again. You don't need a lover to complete you, but you want someone to share your joys and dreams. You have a lot of love to give, and you know that there is someone who will love you back. You trust in love again, and you trust love to find you.
When you feel all five of these things, you're ready for a new relationship. You've walked through the wilderness of heartbreak. You've survived the pit of despair. You have arrived in the promised land of new love.
Be open to the possibility of finding someone to love. When you find your special someone and this wonderful person loves you for who you are, embrace the new relationship. You've earned it, you are worthy of it, and you can now allow yourself to love again.
Chad Stone is the author of The Love Magnet Rules: 101 Tips for Meeting, Dating and Keeping a New Love. He blogs at www.ChadStone.us.