Should You Avoid the ‘Hoe Phase’ After a Breakup? What Science Tells Us

You’ve heard of people going through a hoe phase after a breakup. But is this casual rebound dating helpful or harmful?


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Hoe Phase After a Breakup – Pexels Congerdesign

It can take some time after a breakup to truly feel like yourself again. For some people, jumping right back into the dating pool is an important part of the healing process and moving on from their ex. The internet often describes this as going through a “hoe phase” after a breakup.

Of course, there are better ways to discuss the trend of dating shortly after a relationship ends (sometimes with multiple partners in quick succession). The better question, though, is whether the hoe phase is really as bad as it seems? Surprisingly, research suggests that dating shortly after a breakup can actually help you recover faster and feel happier… with a few disclaimers.

What is the ‘Hoe Phase’ After a Breakup?

Coined by college students and social media users, the hoe phase refers to a period of time when someone experiments with several casual relationships in the wake of a breakup. It’s often characterized by the person’s desire to pursue new relationships, explore their newfound freedom, experiment sexually, and seek validation or distraction from their breakup.

Some claim this phase is harmful and morally wrong. Others see it as a time of liberation and self-discovery. Unsurprisingly, the truth is found somewhere in between.

Casual dating after a breakup can certainly be harmful, especially if you aren’t taking precautions to avoid STIs or if your mental health is reliant on a connection with someone else. However, this type of rebound dating can also help you find peace after a breakup and move on from the heartbreak.

The Science of Rebound Dating

Several psychological studies have explored the phenomenon of rebound dating. One group of researchers discovered that people who started a new relationship closely following their breakup had better mental health than those who didn’t. They also found that those same individuals had greater resolution over their old relationship ending and were able to move on faster.

Moreover, psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Claudia Brumbaugh said in an interview with the BBC that people who date quickly after a breakup can experience higher self-esteem than those who don’t.

She says, “They feel more confident, desirable, loveable… they had more feelings of personal growth and independence.”

“They feel more confident, desirable, loveable… they had more feelings of personal growth and independence.”

-Dr. Claudia Brumbaugh

Of course, rebound dating isn’t all roses and good vibes. Another psychologist, Dr. Annie Tanasugarn, warns that dating too soon after a breakup can lead to attachment insecurities and narcissism.

With this in mind, it’s important to approach post-breakup relationships intentionally. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of rebound dating can help you choose a path of healing rather than one of self-destruction.

Potential Benefits of the Hoe Phase

1. Confidence Boost: We all want to feel loved. So when you have one (or more) people telling you how much they like you and want to spend time with you, it can be a great boost to your confidence. After a breakup, this can help you avoid feeling lonely or rejected.

2. Self-Discovery: If you’ve been in a relationship for a while, you might need some time to figure out who you are as an individual. This is perfectly normal. Learning about your wants and needs is an important step after any breakup, and exploring casual connections can teach you a lot about what you want in a future partner without the pressure of long-term commitment.

3. Emotional Support: When you go through a breakup, you lose an important part of your support system. Though a casual date isn’t going to replace the partner you loved, they can be a source of emotional support. Your connection might not be as deep, but the person you’re talking to can be a source of comfort and companionship during a vulnerable time.  

Potential Drawbacks of the Hoe Phase

1. Avoiding Self-Reflection: Wait, didn’t we just say dating after a breakup can help you discover your true self? It turns out this can be a double-edged sword. Using casual dating as a distraction can also block you from processing your breakup. Keep in mind that rebound dating doesn’t replace the benefits of working through your emotions and reflecting on what makes you happy as an individual.  

2. Emotional Turmoil: Pursuing multiple casual relationships in a short period of time can leave you stranded on an emotional roller coaster. You might be left feeling confused, conflicted, and even sadder than you were after your breakup. To avoid this, try setting clear intentions about what you want in a new relationship and limiting yourself to exploring one potential connection at a time.

3. Insecurity Issues: If you rely too heavily on someone else to feel worthy or loved, you may find yourself facing insecurity when you don’t have a partner. Casual rebound dating can be a great distraction, but it can also leave you constantly seeking validation from someone else. You can be single and still be happy and empowered, but you first need to find room to love yourself.

Should You Avoid Rebound Dating?

Recovery after a breakup looks different for everyone. What you need to heal may look completely different from what your friends need or what you read online. This is why self-reflection is so important.

Rebound dating can be a great way to ease the pain of a breakup, but it can never replace true emotional healing. Ultimately, going through a “hoe phase” after a breakup is your decision, and no one can tell you whether it’s right or wrong. But only by approaching casual dating with self-awareness and intentionality can you use it as a powerful source of recovery while you continue to work on building confidence and self-love.

If you’re looking for tools to help make healing easier, Breakup Buddy is an excellent companion. With 70+ guided exercises, space for thoughtful journaling, and 24/7 progress tracking, the Breakup Buddy app helps you heal faster while you learn to love yourself. Start your journey today with a free trial!

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