By: Jenna Birch
When it comes to breakups, anything goes…at first.
You went through your boxes of tissues, took that “personal time” at work, Netflixed House of Cards until your mind went numb, and ordered way too much takeout Thai. No apologies.
But now that you’ve absorbed that your relationship is really over, you might be wondering which next step to take. The answer: It’s time to turn your attention inward with some key questions that relationship pros say will help you bounce back even stronger.
Dig in and demand answers from deep within—you’ll be glad you did.
1. What was my role in the demise of this relationship?
Your now-ex might have been a hothead, cheated on you, put his career first (every time), and/or never saw the amazing woman right in front of him—but relationships are always two-way streets, says counselor and psychologist Karla Ivankovich, PhD, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois, Springfield.
“Blaming our partner allows us to relieve ourselves of potential guilt and remorse,” she explains. “But more often than not, we assign blame in order to protect ourselves from admitting that we may have played a role. It takes two people to create happiness and it takes two people to erode that happiness.”
So take some inventory and accountability. You might have had a tendency to marginalize him, choose job over intimacy and ultimately self-sabotage. Sometimes it just takes distance to see our flaws, which may be helpful for the future.
An important disclaimer: Recognizing these hiccups does not mean you should run to your ex saying you now see the error in your ways. This is about personal growth, not getting back together.
2. What can I do differently in my next relationship?
Once you’ve taken some accountability, it’s time to glean the lessons.
“We should always seek to make improvements to ourselves and to our relationships,” says Ivankovich. “The individual who is unable to account for their own shortcomings will surely fall into the same cycle in future relationships.”
Think about any feedback your ex gave you, or what your relationship was clearly lacking.
“Did you struggle to communicate openly and honestly with your partner?” Ivankovich asks. “Do you bottle up your feelings, and then explode? Complain a lot? Did you ignore the needs of your relationship?” If the answer is “yes,” then you’ll have some time to soul-search before your next love.
3. Have I been realistic in my expectations?
Did you want to be engaged within a year? Married within 18 months? Did you want him to be in touch more frequently? Ivankovich says to assess what your expectations were exactly, and how you directly expressed them.
“Many times, relationships end because we have a set of expectations that are not realistic, are moving targets, or are not clearly defined in the first place,” says Ivankovich. “Contrary to wishful thinking, our partner can not read minds.”
4. Would I date me?
Here’s where we get personal, says dating expert Laurel House, author of Screwing the Rules. “Knowing who you are, and what are your issues, insecurities, sabotaging behaviors, ask yourself privately, ‘Would you date you?'”
Be brutally honest with yourself. If you’ve got sky-high expectations, but stubborn walls that you refuse to drop, those are barriers you must acknowledge before you look for love again.
“Pinpoint the areas of weakness so that you would want to date you,” House says.
5. Who was he really?
Now that you’ve mulled over your former relationship, take an assessment of your ex and forget giving him excuses. Sure, you had your faults—but so did he, and it’s important to recognize why you’re better off separately.
“Why was he an asshole?” House says to ask. “Strip away the romance, the fantasy, the hopes, the dreams, and the what-ifs and think about who he really was.” Think about your ex’s true colors: dismissive, wishy-washy, controlling, etc. “They’re not so pretty,” House assures.
Red flag the characteristics that caused the most problems for you and try to steer clear of them in future relationships.
6. What is my limiting belief?
House says that, more often than not, we have a core belief that holds us back from having the most fulfilling relationship.
“What is your limiting belief?” she asks. “What in your past brought you to that belief, and what compels you to date toxic guys who don’t make you feel good about yourself?”
Once you recognize what’s holding you back from rewarding love—perhaps it’s that you don’t think you’re good enough, that you need to prioritize other things, that you can’t fully trust people—House says you can address it, internally, and stop compromising yourself.
7. What are my plans for me?
Okay, so you’ve been through the traum-o-rama that is breaking up. Sure, it’s tempting to jump back into the Tinder game, but Ivankovich says it’s wise to pause and ask yourself what you want out of life.
“I am not talking about taking that trip to China or changing careers, but rather what are your plans for yourself?” she says.
Ivankovich says to ask yourself what kind of woman you really want to be, before deciding what you want in a plus-one. Maybe that woman has a softer approach to communication with her loved ones, or spends more time away from the office to read, reflect and work on personal growth.
“There is so much truth to the age-old adage, ‘You must love yourself before you can love anyone else,'” she says.
The goal of the post-breakup phase is to process the relationship, understand what went wrong, accept that your ex wasn’t right for you, and work towards a better tomorrow. Ask the tough questions and don’t rush it. Make the changes. Reflect. Give yourself time to heal.
This is the time to do you.
Source: Divorce - YourTango.com