How do these myths impact your everyday life?

Still not convinced that they do?

Keep reading—you might just change your mind.

Let’s dig down and explore the scientific facts behind each of these eight relationship myths, one by one, so you can change your beliefs and become one step closer to finding love and a healthy relationship.

Myth #1: After a marriage or relationship ends, you need to wait before you start dating again.

Truth: There are no set time lines to follow, and only you will know when you’re ready to get into the dating world again.

I’m sure you’ve heard similar advice from well-meaning friends and family: “Don’t jump into a relationship now, you’re on the rebound!” or “You were in a relationship for ten years. Are you crazy? You’ll need at least a year to get over your ex.” Or perhaps your experience is similar
to that of Sean and Beth, one of the couples from my EYM study: Sean and Beth’s Story: Sean and Beth met in their last year of college, dated for eight months, and were married in a beautiful
church wedding soon after graduation. Sean jumped straight into med school, while Beth took a lucrative job that had her commuting into the city’s financial district each morning at five and returning at eight or nine at night. Over the next few years, Sean and Beth acquired two cats, one house—and two thriving careers. As their work hours grew, their lifestyles and goals diverged,
and Sean and Beth spent less and less time with each other.

They were living in two different worlds, and Sean felt like he didn’t even know Beth anymore. When Beth told him she was moving to her own apartment in the city and wanted a divorce,
Sean was heartbroken. His friends tried to hook him up with women and blind dates, telling him to shop around and have some fun with no strings attached. But his sister and confidante warned him that rebound girlfriends are always about self-sabotage or revenge; he really should wait at least six months to give his heart a chance to heal. Was his sister right? Contrary to what your friends or family may tell you, studies show there is no predetermined period of time after a divorce or breakup before you are ready to start dating again. Friends will warn you about “rebound relationships,” as if there were some hard-and-fast truth that your first dating experience after a breakup is bound to fail. You may hear that you should wait one month for every year you and your ex were together. Or maybe you’ve heard that it all depends on whether you’re a man or a woman: women need to wait, take time to heal, and talk things out with their girlfriends—and men need to get out there and
start dating immediately.

The truth? These are all myths. There are no facts or evidence to support any of these statements. In fact, scientific research paints a very different picture.

What research and studies do show is that whether you are ready to date after a breakup depends on your prior relationship and your emotional attachment to that relationship.

Studies find that some people, most often women, emotionally separate from their partner or spouse while they are still in the relationship. When the relationship finally ends, they’re ready to find love again right away because they’ve already worked through their feelings. Men, on the other hand, typically avoid dealing with their emotions until they’ve physically separated from their partner. For most men, it takes a physical separation before they are able to internalize their feelings, work
through their emotions, and come to terms with what’s happened. I speak with many people who go to counseling, try to work things out with their partner, and do everything they can to fix the relationship. But when things don’t change, they separate emotionally and grieve the loss of the relationship. This may take days, weeks, or even years—and it can happen during or after the relationship. You may even be in the middle of this process yourself! Once the grieving process is
over and you’ve separated emotionally, you’ll be ready to move on and into a new relationship where you can trust and deeply care for someone again. But if you only separate physically, without working through your emotion, grief, and loss, it could take longer before you are really ready to love again.

I recently asked one couple, Tonya and Christopher, to tell me about their divorce. Their stories, as told in their own words, clearly illustrate how one partner (in this case, Tonya) can be emotionally ready to “rebound” right into the dating scene, while the other partner (Christopher) might be grieving and unable to trust someone new: Tonya’s Story: I was married to Christopher for four years. After about two years together, I realized I was unhappy and ready to leave. I had a heart-to-heart with Christopher, and we agreed to go to counseling together to work on our issues. We
learned to be attentive to each other’s needs, and, for a little while anyhow, it looked like our relationship had really come around.

But wouldn’t you know, Christopher’s old habits snuck back in. Over the next two years, I repeatedly told Christopher that I was unhappy and needed his support. I desperately tried to get him back into counseling, bought him self-help books, and I even spoke with our priest! But Christopher didn’t listen and shrugged me off. I became emotionally distant and numb. So I decided to call it quits for good. I was ready for a new life, and ready to see other men.

Christopher’s Story: Tonya and I were married for four years. After two years, things started to get a little rocky, so we went to counseling together to work out some issues. I thought the counseling
helped—it really changed how we communicated with each other. I worked hard to fix up our apartment and to maintain a nice lifestyle for the two of us, and I made sure I helped Tonya around the house. Sure, our relationship wasn’t perfect, but I felt reasonably happy.

After four years of being together, Tonya woke up one morning and suddenly announced she wanted to split! Honestly, I couldn’t believe what I heard—I was shocked and surprised, to say the least. I was angry with her, too, because I had tried so hard to work things out! I felt totally burned and blindsided, and had no interest in dating anyone else for months after our divorce.

After all, I needed time before I could figure out what the heck happened. I had to wait and put the pieces of my life together again.

Everyone is different. You might be ready to date again right after your relationship ends, just like Tonya. Or you might need to heal before you reenter the dating world, like Christopher. Despite what people may tell you, love can happen anytime, so never listen blindly to someone else’s rules about when you’ll be ready to find someone new.

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