Chris helps a reader who is thinking about dipping her toe back in the dating waters after a painful divorce.
Send your questions to email@example.com, and remember to include a nickname if you don't want to be identified.
I need some relationship advice...for a relationship I don't have yet.
My husband and I separated two years ago after eight years of marriage. The split was acrimonious, to say the least - there was infidelity on his part and a lot of hurt feelings and angry words from both of us.
Recovering from the breakup has been a huge struggle for me, but I'm finally ready to accept that he will never be part of my life again.
Until now, I haven't felt even close to ready for a new relationship (and it still scares the heck out of me). But part of me thinks I'll never be completely over my ex-husband until I find someone new.
I know I'm supposed to be a modern, independent woman who doesn't need a man to make me happy, but deep down I really want to be in love again.
Then again, it seems completely unfair to take all the baggage from my failed marriage into a new relationship, and to give that new man the task of "fixing" me.
How do I know if I'm ready to start dating again? Should I wait until I'm well and truly over my breakup? What if that never happens?
Thanks for your email. When another person's actions have shattered your ability to trust, it can be very difficult to learn to trust again. Some people never move past a broken heart.
However, you can learn to trust again, even after being deeply wounded in a past relationship. You do not have to let a person's lack of trustworthiness taint all future relationships.
It sounds like you have given yourself some time and space to begin to recover from the hurt you received in your marriage.
It's very understandable to be anxious about entering into another relationship, and naturally you do not want to be hurt again.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be "in love" again. We human beings are social creatures who need connections. You are recognising the need for trust again, as without trust we cannot enjoy close relationships.
Some of your questions will only be answered when you dip your toe into the water. It's only then that you will discover how over your ex you are and/or how much baggage there still is. It sounds like you may be getting close to starting to date again.
My advice is to be patient with yourself and ease into a new relationship slowly. Start by sharing small confidences and see what happens.
It's also important to acknowledge where you are exhibiting trust, such as with close friends and family.
Remember that one person does not have to meet all your needs. You can accomplish this by trusting different people with different needs.
It does take courage to open our hearts again and I wish you well as you take your next steps. Do consider seeking counselling support should issues arise that you can't overcome.
Feel free to visit Relationships Aotearoa online, as we have many resources that may assist you.
We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.
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