Single and Dating. . . Again!
In the immortal words of Neil Sedaka, “breaking up is hard to do.” But it isn’t the hardest thing to do. Finding yourself newly single after an extended romantic relationship and facing that awful question of what to do on Saturday night is much harder. How do you get over your old relationship while, at the same time, opening yourself to new possibilities? How can you cope with feelings of insecurity and uncertainty as you once more step cautiously into the dating scene? Who will you meet, and where will your next relationship take you?
First Things First: Working Through the Loss
The feelings of loss that accompany the ending of a dating relationship are common and need not be feared. It’s your mind’s way of letting you know how close that person was to you and reminding you that life is challenging and often unpredictable. Losing a significant relationship in your life is not much different from losing a person to death.
There are five stages of grief that many people go through as they learn to accept the loss. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross has categorized and described these stages through decades of research. The stages include denial, anger or resentment, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Many people will recognize these stages in themselves, and in other situations that involve a loss. It is generally considered healthy for a person to go through these stages to arrive at a place, emotionally, where they can begin to carry on with life.
It is, in some ways, more difficult to recover from the loss of a close relationship when that person is not only alive, but dating others. The intensity of the loss can be multiplied when our imaginations are allowed to run wild with thoughts of the other person in a new relationship while we feel stuck in a stage of doubt and self-pity.
The loss of a relationship must be fully appreciated and the mix of feelings that loss evokes must be experienced before you can move on. Until you are able to let go of a relationship that has ended, it will be difficult to open up your life to another individual. Allow yourself the time and emotional energy it takes to work through your feelings of loss before moving on.
Making Better Choices in the Future
We can learn a lot from old relationships if we only take the time to sit down and try to figure out what went wrong. Too often, people are in such a hurry to put the old relationship behind them that they spend no time in trying to examine what was good and what was lacking in that relationship. Examining and learning from a relationship is not the same as analyzing it to the point of obsession; spending some quiet, reflective time, writing in a journal, talking with a friend, or talking with a professional can help you put a relationship that has ended into perspective and assist you in moving on.