Breakups can be tough. So much of our identity is wrapped up in our relationships, so it’s a huge loss when a relationship ends- especially when it wasn’t our choice. That’s why it is vital that we own our feelings and not let anyone else get caught up in our baggage.
Not over your Ex?
Although it’s human nature to want to avoid intense negative feelings, searching for comfort in the arms of someone new, without being completely up front about your status is plain wrong- and a recipe for disaster.
There’s a number of reasons why it’s a bad idea:
- It’s fraud! If you date someone new and don’t tell them that you’re still stuck on your ex, it’s the same thing as fraud. You’re misrepresenting yourself as available, when you’re really not. That’s dishonest and unethical. It requires a fair bit of pretence- pretending that you care when you don’t.
- It’s selfish,short-sighted, and disrespectful. You’re using someone else to feel better until you reunite with your ex, or get over them. You’re only thinking about yourself and how you feel and have no intention of developing a serious relationship. This is known as a hidden agenda.
- It’s cruel– you’re trifling with someone else’s emotions, and may be breaking someone else’s heart and seriously damaging their sense of trust. People aren’t cars to be test driven. If you have any feeling at all, you’ll end up feeling guilty afterwards, and you don’t need that complication in your life.
- If you don’t get it, just imagine someone else doing this to you!
The good news is that the period of acute pain ends in a matter of months according to David Sbarra, a psychologist at the University of Arizona. Remember that this too shall pass.
Rather than damaging your self-respect by using someone else as a bandaid, here are some helpful steps you can take after a breakup:
- Know thyself. Take the time to get to know yourself again. Our identities are so wrapped up in our relationships and after a breakup, we need to take the time to get to know ourselves again. Ask yourself some questions: Who am I? What do I want? What do I like? Who are my friends? How do I like to spend my time? Developing the ability to be on your own and enjoy your own company is richly rewarding.
- Grieve. Take the time to really feel your feelings and get them out. A breakup can be a huge loss, and there’s lots of feelings to process. If you don’t allow yourself to feel your feelings, you’ll end up carrying them with you. Remember, when you bury one feeling, you bury them all. In other words, if you bury feelings of sadness, you also diminish your ability to connect to joy
Talk to friends, journal, see a coach or counsellor.
- Learn from the breakup. Do an assessment of your relationship and some personal soul searching. See if you can discover where things went wrong and areas you might want to work on. Educate yourself about relationships
- Practice self-love. It’s essential that you be your best friend and biggest cheerleader, especially during a crisis. Forgive yourself for anything you did to contribute to the breakup. Be kind and gentle towards yourself.
- Connect. If you don’t want to be alone, get back in touch with friends and family. As humans, we are wired for connection, and getting back into the fray goes a long way to reducing painful feelings
Dating people who aren’t over their ex?
If you’ve had enough of dates who aren’t over their exes, here’s a few tips for you:
- Make an assessment of your dating behaviour. Are you making yourself too available? Are you a helper and a fixer? You could be putting yourself into the ‘good enough for now’ zone.
- Be the chooser. Have a general idea of the kind of person you are looking for. Be choosy about who you connect with and quickly eliminate those who aren’t a fit. Don’t get into a relationship just because someone chooses you.
- Chat with potential dates and ask questions to help you decide if it’s worthwhile to meet up. Be upfront about what you’re looking for-for starters, someone who is available. Resist the temptation to date someone who’s admitted to not being over their ex.
- If the person is available, go out on a date, and take the time to get to know them before you get emotionally involved. I love philosopher Vernon Howard’s wise words: Take the time to let people show you who they are.’ Don’t just go by their words; take the time to see how they behave. Pay attention and trust your intuition.
READERS: Have you ever entered too quickly into a relationship after the end of a relationship? Have you been out with someone you still held a flame for their ex? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Marian Meade is a relationship and emotional fitness coach and is dedicated to helping her single (and not so single) clients feel good and enjoy lasting, loving relationships. For more information, check out www.marriagemindedcoaching.com, follow her on Twitter @mariageminded and like her on Facebook.