Your last relationship may have ended like a train wreck, leaving you shaken and convinced that you would never love again. Or it may have resembled the ashy and forgotten remnants of a campfire, after being slowly put out by a drizzling rain.
It may have only be a few weeks since your last break-up. Or it could have been months or even years. And now you find yourself thinking about embarking on a new quest for love, while contemplating, am I really ready for a new relationship?
When we haven’t addressed the issues that caused us to get into a bad relationship in the past, we tend to repeat the same mistakes. We end up dating the same people in different bodies.
Here are three questions to ponder if you think you’re ready for a new relationship.
Am I Healed?
This question isn’t asking if you are only healed from your past relationship. It’s asking if you are healed from your entire past.
Maladaptive relationship patterns are rooted in prior wounding that can go as far back as childhood. If we do not work on healing all of those wounds, we will to repeat those patterns. And we will continue to attract partners with their own maladaptive relationship patterns. This is the recipe for a toxic relationship.
Therefore, we have to heal not only from the hurts of the last relationship, but from all of our prior hurts.
As healing is never fully complete, we don’t need to reach a point of perfection. But we do need to reach a point where we can manage the emotions that come up when we are triggered so that we do not continue to act out in dysfunctional ways.
When someone jumps from one relationship into another without healing, they carry all of that unresolved emotional baggage into the new relationship. At some point, those suitcases full of past hurts are going to bust open and explode all over their new partner.
We unconsciously attract partners who trigger our wounds. Addressing and healing those wounds is one of the ways we can grow within a healthy relationship. However, we need to have developed the self-awareness and emotional capacity to be able to take responsibility for our emotions when we are triggered in a relationship.
Take the time to reflect on your past. What are your patterns? What are your triggers? What are your wounds? What are your limiting beliefs that caused you to choose partners who weren’t good for you?
Is My Life/Love Bucket Full?
The people we attract are only capable of loving us to the same extent that we love ourselves. If our self-love is low or non-existent, that’s the love we will receive back from our partners. It may not seem like that in the beginning when being around our partner fills us with feel good butterflies. But over time, as those butterflies drift away, we will feel the lack of our own self-love reflected back at us.
One of the reasons we seek out the butterflies is because our self-love bucket is empty. We have too much empty space and we are looking for something or someone to fill it. It’s enticing and exciting when someone wants to pour a bunch of butterflies into our empty bucket. We temporarily feel full and intoxicated by everything that our partner is pouring into us.
But we don’t want to have buckets full of space for our partners to pour into. We want to be going into a relationship with a bucket that is already filled with love for ourselves, along with a full life that we have created that we love.
When we pour too much of ourselves into someone else, or when we allow someone else to pour too much of themselves into us, we become unhealthily enmeshed with them. A toxic person will want to become enmeshed with another person. A healthy person will not.
A healthy person will have a bucket that is mostly full with some space for a relationship. If a toxic person tries to pour too much into the healthy person’s bucket, the healthy person’s bucket will overflow. The healthy person will realize that other person needs too much of them and is not a good match.
Take the time to reflect on the way you feel about yourself and your life. Do you truly love yourself? Do you love your life? Are you looking for someone to make your already full life better and add to your already existing happiness? Or are you looking for someone to fill your empty bucket and make you happy?
Do I Know What I Want in a Partner?
When we’re young and dating, we’re often seeking someone who we are attracted to and who we have fun with. We’re not thinking about true compatibility and alignment of life goals and values. We also may not be clear on the way we want to be treated in a relationship, and therefore we tolerate unacceptable behavior that we should have walked away from.
We believe that love can conquer anything, and therefore we overlook glaring signals that we are with the wrong person.
Although physical attraction and shared interests are important in a relationship, having those components will not ensure a successful relationship. It’s much more likely that a relationship will be successful if your partner treats you well and has good character, in addition to an alignment of goals and values.
It’s important to be clear on these things before getting into a relationship with someone. If you don’t know what you are really looking for, you run the risk of developing feelings for someone who is not a good match for you, at which point it becomes harder to break off the relationship. It’s much better to make that determination early on before you become emotionally invested in someone.
Take the time to reflect on your past relationships and then on what you want going forward. How did you feel in your prior relationships? How do you want to feel with a future partner? What are behaviors you accepted in prior relationships that didn’t feel good? What are your deal breakers in a future relationship? What are your goals and values? What non-physical qualities do you want in a future partner?
There are no guarantees in life. You can focus on all of the above things and still have a relationship that doesn’t work out. However, if you focus on the above items before getting into a new relationship, it is much more likely your relationship will be happy and healthy.
To recap, focus on the following:
- Heal yourself of prior wounds, enough that you can manage your emotions when triggered.
- Ensure that you are fully in love with yourself and your life so that you are not relying on your partner for your own self-love and happiness.
- Get very clear on what didn’t work for you in the past, and what you do and do not want in a future partner, as well as what you want out of life.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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