The other day, one of my friends commented that based on the surge in my essays on dating he thought I was having a lot of fun these days. I burst out laughing as I admitted to him that only by taking a break from the whole scene could I finally gain some perspective.

After any long-term relationship has ended, I always believe it is best to take some time off to think about what went wrong, what worked well, what could be done differently the next time around with a new person. I also find it helpful to allow some time for grieving before jumping into anything new.

We all have different pressures in our lives, but for most people work and family tend to be their primary focus, so it is completely normal to take a break from dating whenever these two focal points in our lives require our attention.

During these breaks, I like to look at patterns. It is quite telling when you can pick up on common traits your past partners shared. Tying back these qualities to those exhibited by your parents is also a worthwhile exercise. Our parents were our first role models during our early years, then our friends and teachers. We build up a tolerance for certain traits based on past experiences– and that is not always healthy or wise.

I have also found it useful to be aware of some of my occupational hazards. For example, as a divorce lawyer, I have a high threshold for tolerating drama. While that might be great in my professional life, it is not something I want in my personal life. Also, as my brother aptly pointed out, I tend to have a “savior complex” that comes in quite handy at work, but really should not be called into action by my partner.

Ultimately, if used constructively, breaks from dating can be a wonderful time to figure out what is working for you, and what’s not. Taking a time out to develop a new plan for future dates or to implement a change in yourself is healthy. Determining the right amount of time can be tricky, but I will venture to say 3 months as a general rule of thumb is long enough. If your friends are telling you it is time to get back out there, that is always a good sign, however, in the end only you will know when you really have your game back.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.