Are You Relationship Bound, Or Just on the Rebound?
If you are like most people, your thoughts on your past relationships are probably bittersweet – feeling fondness toward the positive memories and sadness or anger toward the situations or circumstances that led to the relationship’s end. In the same way, many people who are entering the dating pool after a breakup enter that pool with mixed emotions – longing for companionship but wary of more disappointment. Here are some things to consider when you are giving love another try:
How long is the waiting period?
There are many different opinions on how long one should wait after a breakup before entering into a new relationship. In reality, the waiting period is different for everyone. It is dependent on how long your previous relationship lasted, how much the breakup affected you emotionally and how well you have processed that situation. It is natural to want to have companionship back in your life, but the desire to have a new relationship can sometimes overtake the need to process your previous relationship and redefine yourself as an individual. Here are some things to consider when deciding if you are ready to date again:
- Are you blinded by the desire to find a new partner? After a breakup, you should focus your energy on empowering and rediscovering yourself. Focus on your goals and how you can be a better individual. Finding a new partner shouldn’t trump the process of finding yourself. Too often, people find themselves months or years into an unhealthy relationship because they were so focused on finding love, that they refused to acknowledge the actual dynamics of their relationship. It’s alright to want love, but if you are just jumping into any relationship to meet that need, then you may want to reconsider your motives and spend some time working on your personal situation and finding satisfaction in your single status.
- You can take baby steps. The best way to reenter the dating scene is to do so slowly. Instead of rushing into a relationship, take smaller steps by making new friends or dating casually. Slowing down the dating process can help ensure that you are making decisions based on what you need for the future and not just trying to find a quick-fix for a void in your life.
- Listen to your gut. We know ourselves pretty well, if your instinct is telling you that you’re not ready to start dating again, then you probably aren’t. Instead, focus your energies on creating a life that makes you happy and, eventually, you will be ready to bring someone into that life.
What if you can’t get out of the waiting period?
While some people jump back into love too quick, other individuals, especially those recovering from the end of a very long relationship or marriage, find themselves either doubting that they’ll date again or questioning whether they even want to give love another shot. Here are some things to consider if you feel your waiting period is permanent:
- Change the Scenery: Over the course of a serious relationship, you may have begun to define your world in the context of your partner. It may seem impossible to imagine another significant other existing in that world. If you focus on improving yourself, defining yourself as an individual and moving forward with your life, then eventually you will find you have created a different world. You may find yourself in a world that is far away from the one you created in your previous relationship, and this change of scenery may be more conducive to nurturing new relationships.
- Reflect and Learn: It isn’t unusual to feel like a failure when a long-term relationship ends. It isn’t unusual to question your own ability to be able to maintain a relationship or retain a significant other. One way to break through these negative thoughts is to take a closer look at your previous relationship. Get a journal and write down the things you liked and didn’t like about the relationship. Record your thoughts on what you and your former partner did well in that situation and what you could have done better. This will help you better understand your strengths and weaknesses in the situation and learn how you can build a stronger relationship in the future.
- It’s Your Choice: Remember, another relationship isn’t a requirement for your happiness. Maybe you aren’t relationship bound at this point in your journey. Remember, the important thing is to focus on your healing and growing as an individual. Don’t feel you have to explain or justify remaining single. Don’t feel you have to exhaust every resource trying to find someone new. Embrace your friends and family, embark on your dreams for the future and focus on making yourself and your loved ones happy. And, like they say, sometimes love finds you when you aren’t even looking.
So whether you are concerned that you are jumping into another relationship too soon, or you think you might never be able to find love again, just remember that the options are yours. You have the power to control your recovery process and the life you want to create for yourself. You have the power to learn lessons from your past relationships that can make future ones stronger. You have the power to embrace a new relationship or to enjoy a full, rewarding life without one.
Always listen to your instinct, be honest with yourself and value the power you have to create that next chapter in your life.