I once had a client who came to me after three “serious” relationships had ended in disaster. She came armed with a long list of complaints about her former partners. How they cheated on her, disrespected her, ignored her, etc. etc. I asked her a question that completely stumped her–“How did you contribute to all that happened in these relationships?” “What? Me? No, it was them!” Wasn’t I listening to the horrible things they did that proved her point?
After each break-up, this person immediately jumped into another relationship. No reflection. No thinking about what happened. No clue as to her part in creating what was. She was the victim; they were the perpetrators. End of story. Unfortunately, she is not alone in this kind of thinking. Many of us are so desperate after a break-up that we think the only solution is to find someone else pronto. Someone who, on the surface, is different from the one we just left. But instead of someone different, after a short while, we discover that this new relationship is eerily similar to the old one. Different name, different face, but essentially the same person we just got rid of.
Hopping from one relationship to another without taking the time to explore will inevitably lead to more heartache. Without reflection about what happened and our part in creating what was, we are still flying blind. We’ve learned nothing from our previous experience because we haven’t put in the time and energy to gain insights, to learn and grow so that next time we can choose better. If we’re the same, we’re going to choose the same. It can’t be any other way.
Relationships give us the best opportunity to learn about ourselves. They point up our growing edges–the places within that need our attention. We need to find out why we do what we do. What’s underneath the surface of our behaviors. Why do we continually choose people who treat us badly, for example. Or don’t listen to us. Or love us and leave us. With insight into our self, we are much better equipped to find a better partner. One who matches our new more conscious level of being.
The best single advice I can give after a break-up is this: TAKE SOME TIME TO REFLECT. Don’t just blindly jump into another relationship because you are lonely. Live without a partner for a while. Notice yourself. Ask questions (Big Breakup Mistake #3) Do your previous relationships have patterns? What are they? Do these patterns bring you satisfaction or hurt?
If you need help, get it. Insight into yourself gives you power. Without self awareness, you have no power to change the hurtful cycle you have created. Yes, I said YOU have created. Not what was done to you. With awareness, you are not a victim!
It’s easy to blame and play the victim. Then quickly move on. Harder to take the time to learn about yourself–to admit your part in creating what happened. Yes, it’s not easy. But it’s exactly what it takes to finally have the loving, supportive relationship you crave and most certainly deserve. I know you’ll find it’s well worth your effort.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about relationships. You can buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (Kindle).