When most of us get out of a long term relationship, we’re not always ready to leap back into something so quickly.
In fact, I advise anyone who will listen to me to not jump from one relationship to the next without spending some real, quality time alone.
Because there’s a period of time we all need to “mourn” the loss of the last relationship and a period of time that we need to take a good look at ourselves so we can own what went wrong and what our part in it might have been.
And as much as we’d like to believe (if we were the one who ended the last relationship) that we aren’t bringing any issues into the next one, the reality is, this simply isn’t true.
We weren’t happy. And since happiness is an inside job, we need to figure out what does make us happy.
For the two years I have been single, I’ve dated a lot but have definitely not been remotely close to opening my heart to anyone again. The sheer terror of getting hurt and being heartbroken again was so overwhelming, the minute I felt any real emotion with anyone, I put up a wall and then ran in the opposite direction like a bat outta hell.
By the way, that’s a clear sign that you are not ready to be in a relationship—in case there were any questions about that.
But somewhere in this past six months of truly being alone…and doing some major work on my heart, I realized with no small amount of trepidation that I actually might really be ready to love someone again if the right person came along. I admitted this as I sat in a Yoga/Manifestation retreat over New Year’s because I realized for the first time, I actually wasn’t scared anymore.
I was actually open…
How do you get there and how do you know you might actually be ready? Everybody’s process is different but these were some of the questions I asked myself and were able to answer with a resounding yes:
1) Have you spent some real time alone?
If you’ve hopped from partner to partner with no more than a month or two in between, you haven’t been alone. Being alone means you have spent a good amount of time on your own without feeling that there was something “missing.”
People who are genuinely okay on their own feel content being by themselves. They fill their time with friends, their work, hobbies they love, activities that bring them pleasure, or just being with themselves. If you can be alone and actually enjoy your own company, you’re in a healthy place to welcome somebody else in who doesn’t need to fill some “hole.”
2) Do you know what you truly want?
When any relationship ends, especially if it was a long-term one, or a marriage, we don’t come out of it the same. There is a lot of falling apart and putting pieces back together that happens and typically those pieces have re-engineered themselves differently so that we look different and actually are different than when we first started.
Who you were has probably changed a lot and what you want most likely has as well. It’s really important to spend some time getting to know yourself again, figuring out what you want, what you don’t, and what makes the person you are now, happy. If you can answer those questions, the next relationship you attract probably has a much better chance of success.
3) Are you emotionally available?
When we’ve been hurt or disappointed, it’s perfectly normal to put our guard up and tread lightly in any future relationship. But there’s a big difference between treading lightly and being completely closed off. Take it from me, I know what being completely closed off feels like and it ain’t pretty.
Being emotionally available means that you are willing to be vulnerable and honest with your feelings for another person. It means that you are willing to allow someone else to get close to you and know the real you, warts and all. You’re willing and able to put yourself out there and not play games.
It also means you’re open to having real heart to heart conversations and going deep, not just texting and keeping things on the surface and safe.
4) Have you let go of any anger and resentment from your last relationship?
If you’re still holding onto anger and resentment because of the way you were treated or the way things ended in your last relationship, it’s a guarantee that you will carry this into a new one. Anything unresolved is a sure-fire trigger when the heart is involved.
One of the worst things we can do is to make a future partner pay for the mistakes of somebody else. It’s typical for people to over-react in their next relationship to some minor miscommunication or slight all because it reminds them of the way they were treated or something that happened in their last one that they haven’t yet fully gotten over yet.
If you’re still holding onto anger, work through it first before allowing yourself to get into another serious relationship. The person you’re going to be with doesn’t deserve to be punished for something they have no idea is a trigger for you. And you don’t want to sabotage a really good thing because you’re holding onto something from the past.
5) Are you able to trust again?
This isn’t just about trusting another person, but also trusting yourself.
Some relationships end because of lying and cheating. Some end because of addictions or abusive behavior. And some end because we just grew apart.
Whatever the reasons, unless we’ve gotten to a place where we can be cautious without being paranoid that the next person we date is going to do or be the exact same way as our last partner, we’re going to ruin a good thing before it even gets started.
Of course we should be discerning and look for red flags, but we also need to come from a place where most people are trustworthy, decent and good-hearted until they show us otherwise. If someone is investing time in you, it’s because they are looking for the same thing you are: a loving, sincere connection and someone to spend time with and possibly their life with. Don’t judge them based on what somebody from your past might have done.
Equally important is having gotten to the place where you trust yourself. This is sometimes difficult to do if you are still blaming yourself for not seeing the red flags in your last relationship. Live, learn and let it go. When you know better, you do better next time around.
6) Are you willing to be 100 percent yourself?
I knew I wasn’t ready to be in a real relationship again when I noticed myself hiding my true authentic self half the time. That is the part of me who isn’t 100 percent confident, 100 percent together, 100 percent accepting of all my perceived flaws and wants to cover up and pretend anytime I’m not feeling 100 percent happy.
Real love and real relationships worth keeping are the ones where you can be yourself all the time. That means not hiding your past, your mistakes, your insecurities and your fears. The relationship will never work if you’re pretending to be someone you’re not. At some point, the jig will be up and your mask will be untethered, revealing who you truly are anyway.
I knew I was truly ready to be loved again when I started having conversations with men that didn’t involve me trying to project my “I’ve got my shit together all the time” face. I’ve reached the point where I love myself and how far I’ve come and I don’t feel I need to hide where I’ve been to get there anymore.
7) Do you truly love yourself?
Let’s face it: most of us have a really hard time loving ourselves for who we are. We’re constantly in “fix-it” mode, especially after a break-up.
If we were the ones who were left behind, it’s easy to go into “what’s wrong with me” mode, believing that if we were so great, the person wouldn’t have wanted out of the relationship to begin with so they could go be with somebody else. Or worse yet—alone so they didn’t have to be with us.
If we haven’t reached the place of knowing that every person ends a relationship for reasons that are about them, and not us, then we aren’t ready to love again. We can’t expect somebody else to love us when we don’t love ourselves.
Spend the time really appreciating all of your wonderful qualities—the ones that would make you want to be in a relationship with yourself. And work on those that you don’t love, if you feel you have to. But get yourself to a place first where you love the person you are, separate from anybody else.
At the end of the day, only you truly know if you’re ready. You’ll feel it in the very core of your being. It will be completely lacking of any fear and completely excited about the possibility of what could be.
And you will actually feel like you deserve it. The belief that you absolutely deserve to be loved again is the number one way you know that you are truly ready to put yourself out there again and receive the love we all deserve.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Catherine Monkman