A good relationship is, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful things to have in your life. It can contribute more to your happiness than nearly anything else, with only following your dreams possibly bringing more.
Unfortunately, not all relationships are good relationships, and even good relationships can end when something traumatic causes one of the people to change beyond what the relationship can handle. And, sad to say, some good relationships end when one person dies.
When that happens, when you come out of a long-term relationship into which you have invested a lot of your time and energy, your very self, there is often an aching emptiness, a hole inside of you that used to be filled. The pain from that emptiness, from the severed connections, can cause your mental clarity to falter, drawing in close, in the same way that physical wounds, if severe enough, can cause you to be unaware of your surroundings.
Sometimes, when that ache is strong enough, we reach out for anything to try to fill the hole.
That desperation to fill the hole inside can cause us to try to take whoever is available and project what we want them to be onto them, trying to force them to fit into a place in the puzzle of our lives that isn't made for them. That's a recipe for heartache for both people… honesty and intimacy are necessary for a good relationship, and with one person (or both) pretending the other is someone they are not, honesty and intimacy are impossible to find.
Many people know this, mentally, and will tell you, if your relationship ends, that you need to wait a certain amount of time… 3 months, 6 months, or a year. The ironic thing is that many times these same people will be the ones trying to hook you up with someone they know before that time has passed.
So, how long should you wait before starting a new relationship?
Anyone who tells you a specific amount of time is making it up… the length of time you should wait can't be defined with numbers. It can only be described by how it relates to something else… your level of internal peace.
That's right… there is no magic number, no set length of time after which it is safe to start dating again. Friends and family will likely be more than willing to offer you such numbers, and even psychologists and counselors will often do so, but the truth is that no one knows when it is time to start a new relationship except you.
There isn't a little mental timer that counts down and then pops up and alerts you that you're ready… it's a gradual process of healing the open wounds left when the relationship ended. This healing slows (and eventually stops) the drain on your mental and emotional resources caused by those wounds, giving you the ability to look beyond with much clearer vision.
How long it takes for those wounds to heal depends on several factors which are unique to your exact circumstances. Some of the factors include how attached you were to the person to begin with, how much support you have from friends and family, your mental state other than related to the relationship, and your ability to deal with mental pain and find peace.
That's the best way to know when it's time… when you feel more peace in your life, when you don't hurt every time you think of your old relationship. Hurt, in this case, doesn't necessarily mean sadness or that you want to cry, either… unthinking anger is a certain sign of mental pain, as is denial (it doesn't matter whether other people tell you that "You're in denial"… if you stop for a second, you know if you are), and even jealousy (if you are jealous of them, or someone new they might be with, etc.).
When all of that fades, and you can let go… when a feeling of that simply being in your past comes, then you're ready to look for a significant new relationship.
Strangely enough, that often happens when you meet someone new who is simply a good friend, that you aren't looking at as a potential relationship… the friendship fills enough of that void inside of you for you to move (and see) past it, and heal. Then, because you already have a connection with this new (or rediscovered) friend, it is easier for it to move beyond friendship, and the person that you were not looking at for a relationship becomes the one that you start a new relationship with.
When you're no longer looking for a relationship desperately, then you're ready to find a real one.