When Not To Start a RelationshipBy Dr. Margaret Paul
January 29, 2008
I have often been asked by my clients, "Am I ready for a new relationship?" Discover whether or not you are ready in this article.
Many times, putting yourself back into the dating scene is a good idea. But how can you know when it is time to start a new relationship?
Here are some questions to ponder:
1. Are you fully over your last relationship, or do you still have hope of reconciliation?
If you still fantasize about getting back with your partner, then you are not truly available for another relationship. Is there really a possibility of reconciliation, or are you making up the possibility? If there really is a possibility, then it is certainly not time to date. If the relationship is really over, then you need to fully accept this before moving on to another relationship. As long as you are in denial about the relationship being over, you are not fully available for another relationship.
2. If your partner has died, do you feel ready for a new relationship?
If you had a loving relationship with your deceased partner, then any time you feel ready is fine. You already know how to have a good relationship, so there is a good chance of having another good relationship when you feel ready for it.
3. Have you fully explored your part of why your relationship ended?
When a relationship goes on the rocks, it is because each partner is contributing to the problems. It is always fairly easy to see what the other person did that caused problems, but much harder to see what you did.
It may be necessary for you to have therapeutic help in understanding your end of the relationship issues. I have been working with individuals and couples for 40 years and I have seen that people tend to repeat the same patterns in relationships over and over unless they do some healing work. Even if, at the beginning, a new relationship looks different from your other relationships, there is a good possibility that it will end up the same.
Most relationships create a system with one person being a caretaker and the other being a taker. These roles can switch in different relationships and around different issues. Unless you heal your tendencies to be a caretaker or a taker, you will continue to create relationship systems that don't work.
Underneath all relationship dysfunction are control issues. Whether you control with anger, righteousness, blame, judgment, compliance, resistance, or withdrawal of love, until you heal the fear underlying all controlling behavior, you will continue to create relationship problems.
This does not mean that these issues need to be healed before starting a new relationship, but it does mean is that you need to be in the process of healing to have a chance at a good relationship.
4. Do you feel available for a new relationship?
Most people have two bottom-line fears when it comes to relationships: the fear of rejection and the fear of engulfment, which means the fear of losing the other or the fear of losing yourself. These are deep fears that start in childhood and may continue throughout your life, making it difficult for you to be fully emotionally available in a relationship.
These fears do not just go away. Until you practice Inner Bonding and develop a powerful loving adult self, you may take rejection personally and not know how to handle loss. Without a strong loving inner adult, you may allow others to control you, giving yourself up to prevent rejection.
Again, these fears do not need to be healed before starting a relationship, but unless you are in the process of healing them and continue to do Inner Bonding work within a relationship, there is a good chance that you will recreate another unsuccessful relationship.
A relationship is a wonderful arena for healing and growth when both people are devoted to learning to be a strong loving adult. If you are on a devoted healing and learning Inner Bonding path, make sure that your new partner is too!
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Today, notice what you do when pain comes up - especially the pain of loneliness and heartache when someone is being unloving with you. Do you get irritated, angry or judgmental? Do you resist or withdraw? Do you people-please and give yourself up? Do you numb out with food or other substances, or with activities such as TV? Notice the ways you might be avoiding your feelings rather than compassionately attending to them.
By Dr. Margaret Paul