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Dissecting the advice that was gifted to me when my relationship status changed.
Like moths to a flame, single people (new and old) attract relationship and life experts.
This advice is, of course, free of charge and covers the following: what went wrong, how I could have changed the outcome, what I should be doing right now, what I should do next, and what I need to change.
Sigh…I’m lucky, right?
I’m sure we have all, at some point in our lives, received and or given some sort of dating or relationship advice.
Don’t get me wrong—I don’t think this is a bad thing. I understand that, most of the time, it comes from a good place, and people have honestly wanted me to feel better and to stop hurting. I wished the same for the people I had given advice to. But, the question is, does this advice yield the desired outcome?
Before I begin, I would like to mention that I’m not giving any relationship or dating advice in this post—far from it. I’m just examining the advice I was given and letting you know if it had actually helped me when my marriage broke down.
Advice #1: Don’t Worry, Everything Will be Okay
Who of us hasn’t said or heard this line? All of us, obviously. This line is thrown at anyone who has gone through even the simplest setback in life. So it’s not a surprise to receive or give this advice when someone has just come out of a relationship.
They tell us to not worry because everything will be okay.
From my own experience, the ending of a marriage (or a relationship) is one of the most stressful events in life. The life we knew once is over, and we need to make new changes, whether we like it or not. We will question things and worry about how this or that could affect our kids and family. Consequently, new fears we haven’t experienced before will grow in our heads.
I feel that by saying everything will be okay, we are trying to rush through the grief, and that we should not feel the pain, sadness, fear, anger, grief, and disappointment.
Dealing with the dissolution of a long-term relationship or marriage has serious consequences. Of course, it varies for a person to another, but when dealing with a breakup, we need to deal with other things, like finding a new place to live, splitting finances, custody of kids (and the dog), hiring lawyers, and so on. And the deadliest of them all is the voice in our heads and the voices of other people.
So why do we lie to ourselves and say that everything will be okay? If I ever say these words to anyone, I give you the permission to slap me awake.
This advice didn’t help me in my journey; however, I’m going to share with you another piece of advice that did help me get through all the changes that were happening in my life:
“Focus on what is happening now.”
This is vital, as I know that most of our fears originate from what has not happened yet but think may happen in the future. The only way we can stay on top and stop being overwhelmed is by focusing on the present.
Advice #2: You Are Strong and Amazing, and You Are Going to be Okay
Aha. Powerful words, right?
This is exactly what we need to be reminded of. When we go through a divorce or a breakdown after a relationship, it is critical to remember that we will get through this painful event the same way we had gotten through many other hurdles in our lives.
In these situations, we tend to doubt and blame ourselves, and rethink everything we know about life and love. I found it vital that I was reminded that I was enough and that I shouldn’t have associated myself with what happened to me.
So I feel it’s important for someone to tell us these words—yes, things are going to be difficult and tough, but we are tougher. However, know that there is no magic wand that is going to make us get through this. We need time to heal and learn. At the end of all of this, we will grow, change, flourish, become stronger, smarter, and more confident as a person.
Although this was one of the many pieces of advice that had helped me a lot, I feel we need to be careful when we say to someone, “I know you are strong.” We can’t expect that person to be strong in every situation, which may lead them to suffering silently from a broken heart.
So it is important to let them know that we are there for them, even though we know they are strong and amazing.
Advice #3: I Am Here for You, but Seeing a Therapist Will be Good for You
To be honest, I was not sure if seeing a therapist could help me or if it was worth my money—I felt that it was beneath me to seek professional help.
But I can safely say that taking the decision to see a professional was an important milestone in my journey to healing. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my therapist.
Like I mentioned before, I completely understand that people around me wanted the best for me, wanted me to stop hurting, and move on with my life. Unfortunately, sometimes, the advice given with the above intention may be mixed with their own opinions and experiences.
My therapist provided me an opportunity to share my story in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. She also let me understand my feelings and reassured me what I felt was totally normal and valid.
If you think you need and are ready to talk about your emotions, why not seek professional help? There is nothing to lose. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and it is definitely not a sign of weakness. I strongly feel we need to destigmatize therapy, so we are all comfortable to reach out to them whenever we feel the need.
As Kerry Washington—one of my favourite actresses—said to Glamour in 2015, “My brain and my heart are really important to me…I go to the dentist. So why wouldn’t I go to a shrink?”
Advice #4: Don’t Jump into Another Relationship
This is another common advice I was given (not just from my therapist) when my relationship status changed. I think it is an important one, as when we come out of a relationship or a marriage, we seek validation, affection, and the need to feel the excitement again. We shouldn’t be ashamed of it because the need for connection is as strong as the need for food.
I feel, and I am sure, that most of you will agree that the priority should be to work on ourselves and accept what had happened to us instead of finding a replacement.
Don’t get me wrong—I am not saying we shouldn’t find happiness with someone new, but first, we need to accept, forgive, and find out who we truly are as a person. This will definitely lead to lead to a better outcome.
Advice #5: List the Qualities of Your Ideal Partner
This is an exercise I did right after I saw my therapist, which was three months into my separation and three years after. I can safely say that the list has had a few changes. The core values have not changed, but the list has certainly evolved with time.
This is not a surprise, as I have evolved myself over these past years. During this exercise, I was asked to let go of “my type” (which I found to be a bit challenging), but it definitely helped me to get a bit of clarity.
Now I understand why my therapist asked me to prepare this list. The exercise was not only about understanding the qualities that I needed to look out for in the other person, but to also help me to get to know myself and my goals better.
Advice #6: It is Time—You Need to Meet New People
We tend to take this advice negatively, and I think we have the movies to blame.
Personally, I feel that a nudge or help from friends and family to meet someone new is not entirely a bad thing, and we have to be grateful for the people who want us to be happy.
It is sometimes easier when we are introduced by someone we know, or to have a wingwoman or a wingman. But, of course, we need to have an honest and open conversation with them to check if we are ready to see new people and what we are looking for in our next relationship.
Don’t forget that Prince Harry was introduced to Meghan Markle by a mutual friend. So you never know; maybe your friends know who your future prince is?
In conclusion, I would like to say that I truly appreciate all the advice I had been given throughout my past—the ones that didn’t help me, and the ones that shaped the advice I would be giving in the future.
Thank you to all the lovely souls who bothered to be there for me and wanted me to feel better. I am grateful for all of you.
So, my fellow readers, listen to your friends or family when their heart is broken, understand them, and give them space to heal, but remind them that you are there for them if it gets too much.
Also, don’t feel obliged to give them advice as no two relationships are the same—simply putting them in the right direction is good enough.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please leave a comment below.
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