My work as a psychotherapist has primarily concentrated on all levels of adult relationships. Much of my earlier career included teaching pre-marriage workshops along with providing counseling sessions with couples whose relationships were at deaths door. Learning how couples did, or didn’t prepare themselves for the proverbial walk down the aisle opened my eyes to the fact that much of what caused their break-ups could be traced to what process they went through to establish that relationship in the first place, how well tuned their communication and conflict resolution skills were and what baggage or unexpressed expectations they brought with them into that relationship. This is one of the reasons why participants in my divorce recovery course, Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends, spend time looking at why the relationship began in the first place along with why it ended.
The Dating Dementia course was drawn out of the lessons I learned from those earlier years and subsequently was designed to be a divorce prevention program. It was developed to help individuals make dating and relationship building a more informed and deliberate decision so individuals could avoid being unconsciously pulled along into something that could potentially have such dramatic affects on their lives. Therefore, the clear message spoken in both the Rebuilding class and the Dating Dementia class is to take time to heal from a broken relationship –slow things down, don’t run headlong into a new relationship. Take time to rest and to reflect on past relationships before jumping in again. It is the sabbatical, the resting place between relationships that can be full of powerful insights and lessons that can prepare you for a future relationship with someone new.
Those of us who have experienced a broken relationship know how painful it can be. Strong feelings of hurt, anger, resentment, fear, sadness, loneliness and mistrust can permeate our daily lives for months or even years after a breakup. And, it can be tempting to run from that into the arms of someone else as a way of avoiding that much pain. It is tempting to use someone as a shield to distract us from this pain and the vulnerability that comes with this process. But, as attractive as that is, there is much work that needs to be done and should be done before starting again.
Whether you are fresh out of a broken relationship or even a series of them it is important to be honest; to be accountable to yourself. It is important to study the whole process from that first flirtatious look to the last cold stare to determine what part you played in the drama called the ending of a relationship. If you don’t, you could miss some very important information as to how things need to change before you move into a new relationship.
It is easy to blame months or years of struggle on one person. But, one person isn’t responsible for ruining your life. A life is full of choices and those choices come with positive and negative consequences from which you can experience some emotional, social and financial setbacks. But, they are setbacks not dead ends. Take time while you are now single to recover from the setbacks and to stop blaming the other person for this critical transition in your life. Blame is a denial technique that can blind you to what you need to do the next time around. Blaming your X for everything that what went wrong in the relationship places all fault on that person and can cloud your ability to be accountable for your own contributions as well. And without accountability you are more likely to make the same choices again only to re-experience the same setbacks… one more time. Just where does the change need to take place? There are many opportunities: How you approach dating and moving into a committed relationship, how well you communicate and solve problems, how good are you at teasing out those red flags and addressing them and what you brought into the relationship that should have been dealt with before doing so. These are just a few important things to consider before moving forward.
On the more practical side I found the following blog written by Debbie Burgin, Dating After Divorce: The Joy of Ex’s 10 Commandments that you might find of interest. It is written for women but I think it has much to say for men as well. I especially like what she has to say at the end of the article.