Treading the waters of the “single” world and learning to move on from a past relationship can be tough. I never imagined that I would be in my mid-30s, divorced and single. Let us throw in dating as a single mama of three. It seemed like such a daunting, impossible task. Until one day it wasn’t.
I’ve spent the majority of the past few years focusing on my health, mental healing, and doing some deep soul work in order to grow. I realized that it’s hard to break away from a relationship because humans, by nature, are not meant to be alone. The pain we feel coming out of a relationship is often the result of looking to someone else to feel complete.
I’ve noticed that these three behaviors keep us trapped in our past relationships:
We Become Too Dependent
The hardest part about past relationships is that even if they aren’t great, we become dependent on the other person in some form. That person fills a void in ourselves that we don’t want to work on. When that relationship ends, we must find a healthy way to fill and heal that void, all while letting go of that other person at the same time. It is all about balance.
No longer feeling needed is a painful part of leaving a relationship. This is honestly why we are so willing to stay with someone when we aren’t happy. It is easier to stay than deal with the thought of being lonely.
Dealing with co-dependency and truly healing from that is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I still struggle to not fall back into old patterns of it, and I know it may be something I always work through. This stems from different things for different people. For me, it is from a sense of abandonment from a loved one since childhood. I’ve found that practices like self-reflection, personal development, self-care, and therapy help me to gain a better perspective. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
We Equate Being in a Relationship With Being Happy
The idea of having someone else gives us a sense of comfort and validation. The idea of only being happy when you are with someone becomes your constant thought. It gives us the false hope that they will always be there; in turn, we will be happy and fulfilled. This is a toxic mindset and is just as bad as staying in an unhealthy relationship. It slowly tears us down.
Getting over this mindset can take years, but unlearning these patterns and ideas is exactly what you must do. I am not telling anyone to end their relationship. If you are with a partner that is willing to work through things and heal together, then that is what I always recommend. But this isn’t an option for everyone. If you are brought to a place where working through the relationship is no longer an option, then this is what I suggest.
1. Evaluate your need for the relationship.
Try not to focus on the past relationship as ending because the other person didn’t want you. Instead, ask yourself why you need a relationship to give you the validation you are seeking. Learning why you do what you do will help you work through this one. Therapy has helped me so much here.
2. Practice loving yourself first.
The issue for most of us isn’t being single at all—it’s being happy with ourselves. A huge breakthrough for me was realizing that nobody else can fully love me if I don’t love myself. How could we ever expect someone to care for us when we struggle to love who we are in the first place?
I challenge you to do things alone. Go to dinner and a movie alone. Take walks alone to self-reflect and take in everything around you. Date yourself, if you will. Love yourself again. Dig into your prayer life and discover your self-worth. When others see the way you love yourself, then the right person will appear at the right time and not a second sooner.
I am still walking my single journey of life, and I am quite content doing so. Learning these lessons over the past few years has allowed me to move on. It has shown me when not to settle, how to heal those broken pieces, and how to love myself enough to be just fine being single. I still practice and utilize all the things I mentioned. We all deserve true love, but truly loving ourselves is what we deserve more than anything.
One of the best ways to start loving yourself better is transforming your self-talk. Our relationship expert, Dr. Zoe, has some great advice for this…