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Too soon, too long, too right, too wrong

How long is too long?

How long is too long?

Getting back in the saddle is something every new single has to do, at some point. But how do you know when that point is? Is there such a thing as ‘too soon?’ Conversely, is there such a thing as ‘too long’ – might one really go stale on the shelf?

And, while we’re talking about good timing, let’s also consider the subjoining head-scratcher that may follow: When is it appropriate to begin a new relationship?

‘Relationship’ being the key word here, not the sexy itch you need to scratch shortly after a long-term bust-up. I’m talking about the kind of connection that comes decked out in other so-called big-word baubles like “us” and “we” and could possibly lead to the largest remark of them all (you know, the one that begins with a little L, maybe involves a ring and could see you swearing you’ll part only when death becomes you).

So, re: relationships. What’s “right” when it comes to round two?

Before we get into social expectations – great ones being yours and those harboured by your nearest, dearest and every other nosy-parker you know – let us first dissect the data.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, couples who have divorced and later remarry usually notch up about three years as a single person before the second knot-tie. But that tends to follow three years spent separated from their spouse – they may not be officially ‘single’, but that does not mean they’re not dating anyone either.

So, in a sense, it takes about six years on average for Australians to get back in the saddle in the most serious sense of the metaphor (of course this completely discounts the growing number of people who aren’t getting married at all, and people who aren’t allowed to either).

Still, in the interests of this discussion, let’s suggest six is the magic, off-and-racing number. Would it be unwise to get married again before at least six years have passed? Of course, working back from the wedding day, in mind of the fact engagements average around 15 months and people tend to be together a while before proposals of marriage are made, the six is probably more like four.

Is four years after a serious relationship break-down too soon, or about right?

I’m happy to report the official advice from Relationships Australia is you’re ready when you damn well say you are. In their section on remarriage, RA suggests you do it when you have “fully come to terms with the end of your previous relationship”. But how long does that take? How do you know?

It’s easy to say ‘you just know’. Though there are some studies that suggest the adjustment process post long term relationship can take up to two years. Of course, things like age, children, length of relationship, style of relationship and hopes for relationships future are mitigating factors. The salient point here remains there is no ‘normal’.

But there is ‘sensible’.

(Back to the notion of great expectations)

Generally, when it comes to decision making about relationships, expectations are the killer issue. Quite often, we are too guided by big ideas that may not actually be ‘ours’. Society has a lovely way of encouraging us to think and do certain things, even if those things are not really in our best interests. Like, ‘you must wait x long before doing y’ or ‘never do z before you’ve achieved w’. It’s all good and well to be mindful of these ‘rules’, but it’s dangerous to become stifled by them. At the end of the day, you’re the one most informed about the issues involved, and you’re the one most likely to make the right decision. (And when I say ‘right’, I assume there’s an element of compassion involved in the decision making – there’s nothing civilised about dating someone instantly after a heart-break for reasons most vindictive for example).

Well, that’s what I think anyway.

How about you?

How long should you wait before getting back in the saddle? How long have you waited? And have you been hurt because you didn’t wait long enough (or you waited too long?)


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  • Kat,
    Clearly you need to wait until someone witty, charming, interested and sexy comes along! If he is also big, burly, intelligent and thoughtful - have coffee with him straight away.

    Date and time
    November 09, 2012, 7:21AM
    • I love it, Brett... that's the best response yet. I think you're talking about a fictitious character, but I love it anyway :)

      Date and time
      November 09, 2012, 11:26AM
    • Smooth work Brett. Now you must just do happy laps around her cubicle until she makes the connection.

      Date and time
      November 09, 2012, 3:13PM
    • Brett if a woman waits to long after 50 she is classed a born again virgin.

      Pickled Herring
      Date and time
      November 11, 2012, 5:33PM
    • Oh blush.

      Date and time
      November 12, 2012, 9:53AM
  • depends when you start measuring, if it's from when i knew the relationship would brake down or when it officially terminated socially and/or legally, the 2 measurements are extremely different.
    the first measurement has been 8 and 1 years for each of the relationships, the second measurement has been shorter obviously.

    Victorious Painter
    Date and time
    November 09, 2012, 7:28AM
    • I've known men SO time-challenged that they've totally dispensed with the waiting ... They've started getting back in the saddle months, sometimes YEARS before their current relationship is over ...
      How prescient and practical is THAT?!

      Date and time
      November 09, 2012, 4:43PM
    • @manystring, i've known women that have done the same thing, it's not gender specific.
      but what was your point specifically?
      strange random comment much?

      Victorious Painter
      Date and time
      November 09, 2012, 6:15PM
  • How long you should wait is ‘as long as it takes’. Being ready again depends on the individual and their circumstances. I waited around 6 and a half years before getting back in the relationship saddle. I tried dating during the early parts of those years but managed to find fault with most of the people I met – there was probably actually nothing wrong with them – I thought I was ready for a relationship but I was not. Then I just became ready - it was almost as if I woke up one day knowing I was ready. I wanted a relationship. This allowed a positive attitude shift - I was more open minded and accepting of the people I met. Luckily for me I did meet a great person almost straight away. Sometimes I think ‘oh I wish I’d met them years ago’, but I know if I had, I wouldn’t have been ready for a relationship with them.
    I do think you can rush in before you are ready (being ready includes getting over past hurts and moving on), which does no good for yourself or the person you are in a relationship with. I don’t think you can wait too long. Sure, you can become set in your ways and enjoy very much your singleness. Be aware that starting a relationship after a long time will require adjustment and a patient and understanding partner. But if you are ready, really ready, then it’s never too late.

    Date and time
    November 09, 2012, 8:02AM
    • Perfectly put. Sounded like I was reading about my own past :-).

      Date and time
      November 10, 2012, 7:54AM

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