Have you just ended a long-term relationship with someone? Whether it was an exclusive dating relationship or a marriage, they can be ugly and painful--even for the one who initiated the breakup. Or, perhaps it was mutual, and both of you felt it was for the best.
However it happened, it can be emotionally taxing to end a relationship with someone after being together for a long time together. Before moving on, spend time understanding your past relationship and preparing yourself for the best that’s yet to come. Ideally, you will finish this process before you get involved with someone new. Only after grieving and learning about who you are now, will you have a successful and healthy end to your relationship, making yourself ready for a better future.
Remember, it takes two to tango, so it’s never all one person’s fault when a relationship doesn’t work. By acknowledging your part, you can choose to change your attitudes, beliefs, or behavior that contributed to the problems. After all, you are the common denominator in all of your relationships, and you are the only person you can change. So learn everything you can from the relationship. What worked that you want to have more of the next time? What didn’t work? Learn it now, so you don’t repeat the bad stuff.
Ending a long-term relationship is emotionally exhausting, and can easily leave anyone in a puddle on the floor. Rushing into a new relationship too quickly can be a recipe for disaster because you probably have not gotten your emotional bearings yet. But you feel that emotional void--what do you do? Where do you go?
All of us need support as we move through change. Strong people reach out for the support they need whether it is to a life coach, a relationship coach, a pastor, or a therapist. Rebuild yourself into a stronger, more confident person than you were before with the help of others. This is how you take care of yourself and refill your emotional bank account, so you can be ready to love again.
Forgiveness is really about giving up the belief that you can change the past. Forgiving is not for the other person -- it is for you.
There is a story about two monks who had been imprisoned and brutally tortured. Several years after their release they were reunited. One monk asked the other if he had forgiven their captors. “NEVER!” … he exclaimed. The first monk said, “I see they still have you in prison.”
Forgiveness is letting yourself out of the prison of what was. Regardless of your contribution to the situations that ended the relationship, forgive yourself and learn from it. It may be forgiving yourself for letting it happen or for whatever you did to contribute to it.
Even if ending the relationship was your request, you will likely go through a time when you mourn the loss of the dream you once had with your partner. Grieving is a process. It’s kind of like the waves on the beach. It comes over you … recedes … and comes back again.
Grieving often goes through stages: shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger, depression and loneliness. Then you begin to move forward, there’s acceptance, and finally hope. Grieving fully frees you to be open to the wonderful possibilities ahead.
It will be tempting to remember the mistakes you made and that your partner made. You will likely also remember the wonderful times you had together. While it’s good to remember the good and the bad, you must let it go. The relationship is over and it’s time to look forward, and move on to a new future. C.S. Lewis, novelist and poet said, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”
When you feel like a victim you see the world as being against you. You feel powerless and often don’t take positive action to move beyond your pain. But, the truth is that you have complete power over the most important part of the whole situation – you and the way you choose to think. It may not be as easy as flicking a switch, but you will be a whole lot happier if you make the effort to change your perspective.
Elephants are said to have big memories for lots of little details. If you hash and rehash all of the things he or she did wrong, you will stay stuck in the mud, so to speak. Not only will you keep yourself in a place filled with negative thoughts and feelings but your potential new partner certainly does not want to hear a constant parade of “horribles.” Letting go frees you from focusing on the negatives.
Yes, you probably need time to lick your wounds and regain your strength. But cutting yourself off from the world only increases your feeling of loneliness. Spending time with your friends helps you to focus on things other than your pain. Besides, having some fun will lighten your mood and improve your attitude.
If you want to date, this would be a very good time for “Recreational Dating.” That means dating just to have fun and not to look for a new partner. If you decide to do that, you should be very clear to both yourself and the other person that you are not ready for a new relationship. You just want to have some fun.
It may be very tempting to quickly replace your lost lover with a new warm body. But the odds are that you are not ready to be a good partner yet. It takes time to process the grief and take stock of what you really need to have in a happy, healthy relationship. You may even need to work on a few things yourself.
The biggest risk in moving into a new relationship too quickly is that you may find yourself in another relationship that does not work. When you want to have a relationship so badly, it is easy to overlook all of the red flags. Only after you have become a “successful single” will you be ready to jump in with both feet.
When you have been hurt, it is very tempting to hold on to the anger. You might be mad at the other person for all he or she did, or at yourself for letting it happen.
However, anger does have benefits. It releases negative emotions so they don’t just get stuffed down your hollow leg only to be explored at another time. But the key here is to release those feelings. Releasing anger is like throwing off the old, tattered, winter coat and embracing the spring sunshine. Holding on to them and keeping the caldron churning blocks you from seeing a bright new future.
It’s possible to have a successful and healthy end to a long-term relationship. Emotionally letting go through the grieving process, and with help and support from a relationship expert is a very important step in moving toward the bright new possibilities that lay ahead for you.
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