There’s no easy way to get closure after a split. The time it takes to heal varies for everyone and while some of us may feel ready to date almost immediately, others need considerably more time. (Some experts have said it takes a good two years to move on from something as traumatic as a breakup or the loss of a job.)
How do you know you’ve made progress in your search for closure? Below, therapists and other experts share eight questions that could determine if you’re over your ex.
1. Do you know what you would do differently if you were given a second chance?
No one walks away from a breakup completely blameless. If you’re still cataloguing the mistakes your ex made and haven’t begun to consider your own missteps, you’ve still got some work to do, said Marcia Naomi Berger, a psychotherapist and author of Marriage Meetings For Lasting Love.
“Everyone has issues. The key is to be aware of your own, including whether you ignored the signs of trouble by committing to such a person,” Berger said. “When we pay attention, we see signs of what’s to come.”
2. Do you have satisfying bonds outside the ones tied to your former relationship?
If your answer to this isn’t a resounding ‘yes,’ then you probably relied too heavily on your relationship as a source of happiness, said Jennifer Barrows, a wellness coach and author of Still Together: A Single Mom’s Guide to Healing After Divorce.
“Sometimes taking the time to reconnect with people you have lost touch with can help you move on after your breakup,” she said. “Of course, the most important person with whom to reconnect is yourself.”
3. Have you worked through leftover anger toward your ex?
Your Tinder date definitely doesn’t want to hear you rant about your ex ― and at some point, your friends might grow tired of it, too. If you still feel resentful toward your ex, you haven’t fully moved on, said Margaret Paul, psychotherapist and co-author of Do I Have to Give Up Me To Be Loved by You?
“If you’re angry, it means you likely haven’t worked through why the relationship didn’t work. It means that you feel like a victim,” she said.
4. Can you watch “The Notebook” without bawling your eyes out?
You’ve made immense progress on the moving-on front when you can watch a romantic movie and not fall apart, said Alicia H. Clark, a psychologist in Washington, D.C.
“The key here is to be able to enjoy the story and feel the emotions of it without exclusively associating the storyline with your ex or stirring up old feelings in a way that leaves you pining for them,” Clark said. “It’s a great litmus test for how much you have moved on.”
5. Do you recognize that you need a whole lot more than love to make a relationship work?
At this point, you should know that love really isn’t all two adults need to have a functional, healthy relationship, Berger said.
“People who believe the-love-is-all-you-need myth are likely to experience another breakup because instead of responding constructively to challenges as they arise, they sweep issues under the carpet until things eventually blow up,” she explained.
6. Have you accepted that you and your ex are done for good?
If you’re still convinced that your ex is your soulmate and that you’re bound to reconcile at some point, you’re not even close to achieving closure, Paul said.
“Maybe your ex is one of your soulmates ― but you need to understand that soulmates don’t always make good partners,” she said. “Sometimes, we just need to just move on.”
7. Are you over the Facebook-stalking phase?
If the first thing you do when you log onto Facebook or Instagram is head to your ex’s page, you’re still devoting too much mental energy to them, Clark said.
“Being curious about someone you were close to is completely normal but too much curiosity can set you back from moving forward with your life,” she said. “The ability to browse Facebook without searching for your ex is a good sign you’re moving forward with your life.”
8. Besides work and maintaining a relationship, do you have outside interests that bring you joy?
Be honest: Being in your relationship monopolized most of your free time. Now that you’re single again, it’s time to pursue activities that bring you joy, Barrows said.
“When you are grieving the end of a relationship, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “Finding something outside of yourself that brings true joy can help you heal. Look for what really moves you, practice it regularly, and joy will become a natural extension of your lifestyle without your ex.”