Losing Hope for Love: What It Means to Work on Yourself

contemplative womanAfter experiencing relationship disappointments such as breakup or divorce, it can be hard to move forward and have hope that you will find love again. In today’s online dating world, it is easy to meet many potential mates, but that makes it just as easy to experience letdowns and heartbreak when a relationship doesn’t work out. It can also feel like our dating culture is increasingly superficial, squashing our dreams of finding meaningful and committed connections.

It’s hard to pick yourself back up after heartbreak, and the more rejection you experience, the harder it may be to believe that you will be able to find the right person and relationship for you. We’ve all heard the cliché sayings—“date yourself,” “take time for you,” and “find yourself” among them—thrown out as advice, but what does that really mean, and what do we do when we feel as though we’ve lost all hope of finding a life partner?

Taking time for yourself is more about working on yourself than it is “finding” yourself. The person we are inside changes over time. We grow, learn, change, react, and respond to our environment and the people around us, so who we are isn’t necessarily something that is concrete.

Working on ourselves consists of taking an honest look at the ways in which we have responded to hurt, anger, and loss following a breakup. It’s normal to develop walls and barriers in order to protect ourselves, and it’s also normal to feel anger. We are allowed to feel and express our feelings, and doing so speeds our recovery. However, we don’t want to bring these feelings into our next relationship or dating experience.

Hanging onto these emotions and keeping walls up gets in the way of us opening up to the possibility of allowing someone to get to know us, thus greatly reducing the chance we will find the relationship we are looking for. So, working on ourselves means identifying our feelings, expressing our feelings in healthy ways, and then releasing those feelings so that we can move on.

Breakup and divorce can be devastating, and it’s important to know it’s normal to grieve the loss of the relationship. It takes time to move through the stages of grief, and the more we can feel and release our emotions while we are moving through the stages, the quicker we can let go of the old relationship and be ready to move forward with a new one.

Relationships are built on foundations, and those foundations are made up of the things each person in the relationship brings to the table. We all have our baggage from past experiences, but in order to create the best possibility for a healthy, happy relationship, we want to bring our best selves to the table and show up for ourselves and for our potential mate.

Bringing our best selves to a relationship means forgiving ourselves for the mistakes we may have made in previous relationships. If we are harboring blame, regret, or feelings of shame, we sabotage our confidence and our chance of bringing our best selves to a new relationship.

Another way we can regain hope that we will find the relationship we are looking for is to focus on self-care. Although the term “self-care” is overused by life coaches, psychologists, and yoga teachers, the premise is possibly the most important component of healing after a breakup and regaining hope for the future.

Self-care starts with taking the time to know who you are and what you like. This may sound easy, but your preferences typically change when you are in a relationship and then change again after a breakup. There is no magic formula to getting to know yourself again, but taking time out to focus on what is important to you and the activities that make you feel good is the first step to knowing how you can nurture your true self.

When we’ve experienced hurt and heartbreak, it can seem overwhelming. We can’t always deal with it on our own, nor should we have to. Building a strong community of support helps us heal. Seeking the guidance of a compassionate therapist can help you get back on track, regain hope of finding love in the future, and empower you to bring your best self to future relationships.

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Kara Holmes, therapist in Newport Beach, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • aubrey

    aubrey

    January 26th, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    I will not give up on finding that love that will last forever. I have been through two divorces but I still have hope that one day I will find my Mr Right!

  • Marianna

    Marianna

    January 26th, 2015 at 11:26 AM

    As difficult as it may be there can come a time when you have to take a good long look at yourself and determine what it is that you could be doing to contribute to the situation. None of us ever really likes to think that this is all our fault, and it never is the fault of only one person, but it does take two to tango, and to not repeat the past, you sort of have to learn to fix what it is that you could be doing wrong on your end

  • dell

    dell

    January 27th, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    So here’s a novel thought… stop thinking about things that we can do to find a mate and find ways instead to be content with just being alone. I think that there are times when you find that contentment in yourself then that is when you are then ready to attract someone good into your life.

  • Mario n

    Mario n

    January 27th, 2015 at 2:39 PM

    Can’t you even imagine what a sad world this would be if we all made the conscious choice to give up on love??

  • Cady

    Cady

    January 28th, 2015 at 3:47 AM

    After a particularly bad break up a few years ago I vowed that I would never let myself be treated that way again nor would I ever let someone else make me feel so worthless again.
    That was the time when I started working on me in earnest, and doing more of the things that were good for me ad that I actually liked to do.
    So much happier now than I have ever been. I like myself, I like my friends, and it doesn’t feel like I am lonely even though I am not currently seeing anyone. It just feels like I am freer to do things for me!

  • Tony

    Tony

    January 28th, 2015 at 11:05 AM

    But surely you can see how it can be easy to give up on yourself when you feel like someone has given up on you so many times in the past??

  • Myranda

    Myranda

    January 29th, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    sometimes i think that all of my friends must get tired of hearing all of my sob stories because there have been so many of them! i know that they are friends and that they won’t give up on me because of the hurt that i have gone through and that they will always be there but i don’t want to wear them out all of the time with my hopes and dreams that never quite come true.
    i want to be a better friend, one that they know that they can come to and depend on instead of always leaning on them but i am never sure how to turn it all around and get to that point.

  • Myra

    Myra

    January 31st, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    There will be no one who can love you if you don’t first and most importantly love yourself

  • Anne

    Anne

    June 24th, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    After I discovered that the man I literally worshiped for 20 years had been cheating on me since the first month of our relationship and that he offered to marry me because I would make a good mother, despite the fact that he didn’t love me, after I fell in love with a sweet man who after I gave out my heart to support his fight against cancer, broke up with me per sms and threw me out of his life before he died, stealing from me the chance to say goodbye… Well, I decided that this illusion called love would not affect me again. Never again. We are indeed alone in this life. Let’s face it.

  • Kalvinder

    Kalvinder

    October 24th, 2015 at 2:09 PM

    I was so so happy when I thought I had found someone to share my life with but he truly only married me for what he could gain as all he did was fed me lies but I still fell in love and was given an ultimatum by my father to chose between him or the family. I was so afraid to be abandoned I chose to leave him. It truly was a choice of a rock and a hard place and was totally uncalled for my father to put me in this position.
    However, the worst is that I was psychologically traumatised and stuck for over two decades and my life has passed me by while my ex has remarried and had kids and built a good career after i supported him to finish his accounting exams. I think my father did more damage then being married to a total narcassist who would lash out when he felt he was losing control over me. But my life my dreams and my hopes have been destroyed and although I have tried every type of self help book and hours and hours of counselling and therapy I have destroyed my life by listening to my father and fearing the worst. Yes, my ex might have killed me but he is remarried and has two small children so he has not killed them. I wish families would support and not play power games and they certainly should not meddle in their family members marriages. I have had over 22 years of regret and sadness and grief and it was all so unnecessary. Stupid stupid paranoid family who did not even ask me what I wanted. I was not dead but alive but seriously vulnerable as could not understand why this man who professed to love me would regularly lash out at me without warning and often on some minor incident that he thought was enormous. It was always his way or the highway. And my father did exactly the same to me and both professed to care about me.
    I don’t believe anyone cares about anyone but themselves and the workd feels such a sad and lonely place as once I felt so loved and safe and that I had a place in this world. Now I feel like nobody would even care if I was dead or alive.

  • Shar

    Shar

    January 23rd, 2016 at 12:23 PM

    Unfortunately it sounds like both are sociopaths. Join a group on facebook for sociopath or narcissist survivors! You are loving the wrong kind if people. You need to love yourself and stop letting people control you! Join a group we can help!

  • odudu

    odudu

    October 13th, 2016 at 3:49 PM

    No one cares..love yourself

  • The Very Truth Of All

    The Very Truth Of All

    December 9th, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    Well since the women of today have really Changed since Most of them now are very Extremely Picky which they will only want the Best and will Never settle for Less. Most women are to really Blame why so many men are still Single today.

  • Why Love Is Very Difficult To Find

    Why Love Is Very Difficult To Find

    December 28th, 2017 at 3:38 AM

    Well unfortunately this is a very difficult time for many of us good men trying to find love since the women today Aren’t like the good old days when love was very easy to find back then. Most women without a doubt have changed since the past since most women now are just so very greedy, selfish, spoiled, and very money hungry these days unfortunately. With most women today being very independent which they really don’t need a man to survive anymore, especially since many women now are making a six figure income. But i will certainly say that this has a lot to do with it as to why many of us good single men can’t find love anymore since we really have no reason at all too blame ourselves in the first place. And most women really do want men with a lot of money nowadays which certainly really adds to the problem for many of us other men that really don’t make a lot of money like the other men do. And speaking of the old days as you can really see that most women were the very complete opposite than today since both men and women back then didn’t have that much money at all to begin with either. So for many of us men now really looking to meet a good woman to just Accept us for who we really are is very impossible now for us unfortunately.

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