Most couples break up between the third and fifth month of their relationships (right when things start to get serious) and 40% of men are nervous about going on a first date with a potential partner due to past experiences (Lang, 2013).
Are you currently going through a painful breakup or did you recently experience heartbreak? If the answer is “yes” to either question, you may find it extremely hard, if not impossible, to think about moving on. While this is a normal reaction, given the loss is so fresh, you will not always feel as if you will never love or find happiness again. In time you will heal and fall in love again. When that times comes, it is important that you watch out for relationship roadblocks like your old relationship, and more specifically, the effects of it. Truth-be-told, some relationships are so momentous that once they are over, you are left residual effects from them.
These effects can prevent you from seeking happiness with someone better suited for you. In other words, the emotional baggage collected from your old relationship(s) can hinder you from getting what you really want – a healthy, happy long-lasting relationship with someone else. Although this can, and often, is a daunting task, in order to fully embrace a new relationship, you will need to make a serious effort to let your old relationship go. I know it is easier said than done, however, with determination and a strong desire to find love once again, you can go forward with your life without allowing your old relationship to affect your future happiness.
So, how can you successfully move past an old relationship so you can embrace a new one? Well, today is your lucky day because I have some awesome suggestions that will help you do just that!
Let Your Ex Go!
I know, I know letting go is not easy, especially when you were madly in love with your ex and thought you’d spend the resto your life together. In fact, I’d be surprised if you hadn’t already picked out your wedding destination and/or honeymoon and/or named your future children. Breaking up is hard…and painful. Who am I kidding? In some cases, letting go of an ex is brutal. This is true even if your previous relationship was more “thorny” than “rosy.”
Let’s face it – for some of you, the life-shattering “break up” is probably the best thing that could have ever happened to you, but, you can’t see that right now, and who can blame you. So, regardless of whether your ex was an “awesomely” good partner or a “devil in sheep clothing,” the time you spent together – planning your future (even if it was just planning for next week or month) is bound to leave a lasting effect on you – mentally, emotionally, and possibly even physically (i.e. nausea, diarrhea, headaches, high blood pressure, depression…you get my drift).
However, once the impossibility of being happy again starts to dissipate, you will be ready to jump (with one foot at a time I hope) back into the land of dating. Once that times arrives and you meet a possible love match, it is important, no, crucial that you refrain from discussing the nuances of your past relationship(s) with your new partner. Why? Well, because you just might scare him or her away. Let’s face it, your new love doesn’t want to hear about the time you spent with your old love.
More specifically, he or she doesn’t want to hear what your ex did that you loved or what he or she did that you absolutely hated. Why? Well, because it makes you look like you are still hung up on your ex – something you don’t want, if you are trying to move on with someone else. In other words, do not, I repeat do not “share” too much with the person you are trying to get to know or the person you are trying to develop a relationship with. That is a “no-no” especially when you first start dating.
What if I need to talk to someone about my old relationship? Well, if you really need to talk to someone about what happened to you when you were with your ex – which is not necessarily a bad thing if it helps you process what happened and refrain from repeating past mistakes – reach out to close friends or family members. Do not obsess or frequently mention your ex to your new partner. If you do – your relationship will fail and you will end up back at square one. So, let your ex go!
Use Your Old Relationship as a Learning Tool
It’s probably really hard to look at your old relationship as a learning experience, especially if you are in the “My life is over!” stage or the “I hate him or her!” stage. You may feel as if you have no control over your life or even your emotions, but thankfully you do, you just can’t see it right now. You have the power to use your old relationship as a learning tool. You don’t have to let what happened in your previous relationship(s) color your new one. In other words, you can use your experience as a growth opportunity. More specifically, the best way to ready yourself for a new, healthy relationship is to learn more about yourself.
For instance, “What did you learn about yourself from that experience?” “How would you rate your communication and problem-solving skills?” “How did you contribute to the breakdown of your relationship and how do you plan to avoid those roadblocks in the future?” “What do you want from a partner and in a relationship?” And, “What do you bring to the table as a partner?” Note: If you recently go out of an abusive or emotionally damaging relationship, you probably will need to take some time out for yourself – to get reacquainted with who you used to be and learn what you need now to be happy.
Do not jump into another relationship before you have had a chance to fully heal. When will I know that I’m healed? When you feel whole again (i.e. self-sufficient, independent, stronger, and more like your “old self”), you will most likely be healed and ready to “test the waters” in the dating arena. However, do not rush yourself – take your time.
Learn How to Trust Again
This suggestion is harder than it sounds, especially if you have been deeply hurt by your ex. However, do not fret because it is possible and you will eventually get there. Truthfully, for most people, trust is a hard thing to regain once it is lost. But, it is important to remember that your new partner is not your ex. And, as a result, he or she deserves a fair shot with your trust. Don’t compare your new partner to your ex, because it is bound to backfire on you. Don’t get me wrong it is healthy to identify potential warning signs – you don’t want to get into an unhealthy relationship because you are too eager to find love again, however, you also don’t want to imagine warning signs that simply aren’t there because you are terrified of getting hurt again.
Rather than looking for things to be “wrong” in your new relationship, why don’t you start out by giving your new partner 100 points of trust and every time he or she “messes” up deduct 5 points. When your new partner reaches less than 50 points, reevaluate whether you can trust him or her. Make sure that the “mess ups” are real and can be proven. In other words, trust your new partner until he or she gives you multiple reasons why you can’t.
Be Open & Honest
You may not believe this, but your old relationship(s) can influence how you handle new partners and relationships. Although, you may be able to move past some issues immediately, others may take longer to reconcile. Even in the midst of healing from a breakup and especially when starting a new relationship, it is imperative to remain open and honest – with yourself and your new partner. “Are you ready for a new relationship?” “What is holding you back (i.e. fear of failure, fear of moving too fast, not being completely over your ex, etc.)?”
When you are open and honest with yourself and your new partner, you are able to better gauge how you and your partner feel, and where your relationship is going. For instance, if your ex constantly belittled you, it is okay to let your new partner know that it hurts your feelings when he or she unjustly criticizes you or “talks down to you.” Sharing your feelings with your new partner can bring you closer together and help you better understand each other.
If you simply cannot get past your old relationship(s) and you have been unable to fully embrace a new one, it may be time for you to seek counseling. I know that counseling can be kind of scary, especially if you do not know how it all works. But, rest assure, counseling can turn your life around so that you can find both happiness and love again. More specifically, counseling can help you regain your life. How can a counselor help me deal with my ex and move on with my life? Well, a counselor will teach how to cope with your conflicting feelings in a healthier way.
In other words, a counselor will not only help you process your feelings and accurately reflect on what happened with your old relationship(s), he or she will also provide you with helpful tips on how to jump start your life again. It is important to note that if you have experienced domestic abuse it can damage your healthy romantic relationship. A counselor will help you deal with past relationship traumas so you can embrace a healthier relationship when it arises. Once you understand that you can alter your path in life, you will be able to enjoy a healthy, happy relationship with someone new.
Dr. Phil. (2016). Life strategies: Personal relationship values. Retrieved from http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/81
eHarmony. (2016). The “ex” files: Get over your baggage. Retrieved from http://www.eharmony.com/dating-advice/relationships/the-ex-files-get-over-your-baggage/#.VuCnuZwrKM8
Lang, N. (2013). 29 eye-opening facts about dating that will change the way you view relationships. Thought Catalog. Retrieved from http://thoughtcatalog.com/nico-lang/2013/08/29-eye-opening-dating-facts-that-will-change-the-way-you-view-relationships/