There’s something tempting about using another person to get over that one ex that you were so sure was an endgame for you. It’s easy to throw caution to the wind, shimmy into that sexy red dress that always gets the job done, and find a human band-aid for the gash in your heart. The truth is that life might put you in the same situation until you learn a lesson. Based on these questions from licensed therapist Sally Connolly, here are five ways to tell if you’re ready to get back into the dating scene.

Do You Get Your Sense Of Self From People That You Date?: 

Is your sense of self-worth, beauty and intelligence, and more based on the people you date? Do you measure yourself based on the attention you get in the dating scene? You absolutely must take time apart to evaluate your view on relationships and the role they play in your life; the key is to choose and want someone, not to necessarily need someone as a yardstick for your worth. Your validation and sense of self-worth must be internal. 

Do You Know What You Want?: 

Can you define your wants and needs in a concise and emotionally intelligent sentence? Sally Connolly says that “being a part of a healthy and happy relationship requires you to be a healthy and happy individual.” So, to build a dream relationship, you must contribute to that health. This means understanding your love languages before you go into a relationship, seeing value in yourself, and being good with or without a relationship. Companionship is a lovely thing, and love is a beautiful part of life, but never allow your relationship to be the only exciting thing about you. 

Will You Search For the Old In The New?: 

Being in love can be a euphoric feeling, but if the reason for your interest in a new person is solely to blot out memories of your last relationship and demean a person to the status of a rebound, then it might not be the best idea to get into a relationship. Make sure that you heal completely and totally; the only thing you ever really want to take out of an old relationship and bring into a new one is lessons. Not the things that traumatized you, but the things you learned from a relationship, whether good or bad, added to your arsenal of wisdom.

Is There Anything That I Am Afraid Of Or Avoiding?: 

Are you trying your best to avoid getting into a serious relationship to cancel out the possibility of falling in love again? Are you avoiding your healing process by using another person as a quick fix? Or maybe you’re avoiding being seen as pathetic, so you don the hat of a casanova for the time being. Either way, Connolly advises that the first step to building a good relationship is by finding someone who is whole and healthy for you by being whole and healthy yourself. Take as much time as you need because it all begins with you at the end of the day. The good things that are bound to grow in your life can only materialize when you make yourself open and accepting.

Does My Life Revolve Around My Partner?: 

Do you find yourself losing sight of all the other people in your life once you get into a relationship? Do you spend all your time with them while ignoring the people that picked you up when you were at your lowest? One thing that you must identify before you get into a new relationship is that if one relationship is the only source of joy and happiness in your life, you might not be ready for it. Yes, it is certainly easier to hide behind the fact that you love hard when you decide to love, but that love will go a long way when you pour it into different relationships, nurturing them with the amounts of love that they all need. Plants need water to grow, but too much of that in one flowerpot can make it thrive for a while before it eventually dies. 

Sarah Connolly stresses the importance of emotional intelligence for you and then others literally in that order. This licensed therapist stands behind the experience and her profession to tell anyone looking to have a successful and healthy relationship that you must build a solid mental foundation before anything else. Connolly stresses that the validation must be internal, and you deserve love from others, but you must love yourself first. It is proof that you are worth more than the bare minimum, and not only are you healing your mind, but you are laying a concrete foundation for a beautiful relationship. You deserve the world but make sure the one within you is lovely first.