After 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
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