Dating again after you’ve been in an abusive relationship is often a daunting experience. It might feel impossible to heal and find happiness after you’ve been harmed by someone who was supposed to love you, but you really can do it. Getting back into the dating world requires you to be kind to yourself, trust your instincts, and go at your own pace. Keep reading to find out what else to factor in if you’re dating again after an abusive relationship.
Build up your self-worth.
An abusive relationship changes you and often, the effects are long-lasting. One of the most common consequences of being in an abusive relationship is losing your self-worth. Your abuser might have convinced you that you’re not worth much or you’re not lovable, so spend some time building it up again. Practice self-love and be kind to yourself. Prove to yourself that you’re worth loving before you start dating. That way, you’ll be less likely to put up with less than you deserve on the dating scene.
Talk to a licensed therapist.
Before you start dating again, it might be worth talking to a licensed therapist or counselor. If you’ve got severe PTSD or other mental health issues as a result of the abuse, a therapist can help you to overcome your struggles. They’ll give you techniques to cope with the pain and anxiety, and also help you to find closure. You don’t have to talk to a therapist, but if you feel that you need help before dating again, there’s no shame in asking for it.
Know that everyone is different.
As you step back onto the dating scene, remind yourself that everyone is different. It’s common to expect the same behavior from someone new that your ex showed, but that’s just your anxiety trying to protect you. Trust that the new person you date will be refreshingly different from the last, and you won’t have to protect yourself in the same ways. It’s also important to use your best judgment. If you notice signs that your new date is similar to your abusive ex, don’t be afraid to walk away.
Go at your own pace.
Dating can be really scary at the best of times. When you’re recovering from an abusive relationship, it can be absolutely terrifying. That’s okay. You don’t have to rush into anything before you’re ready; always go at your own pace. No matter what your friends and family say, wait until you’re ready before you start dating someone new. And when you find someone you want to date, they’ll have to accept your pace. Getting closer to someone before you’re ready will only increase your anxiety.
Always trust your gut.
Your intuition knows best. Pay attention to the signs your body gives you. If someone you’re dating makes you uncomfortable, listen to that gut reaction. Use your best judgment and the lessons you’ve learned in the past to pick up on potentially dangerous situations. If you think you might be a little paranoid given your past, you can always talk your concerns through with a friend you trust and get their take on the situation.
Never feel bad about being picky! Rather than just dating for the sake of it, only date the people that you’re actually interested in. That will reduce your chances of ending up with someone who’s not good for you. It’s okay to have an open mind and give people a chance. But if you’re really not feeling it, don’t feel guilty about saying no.
Remember you don’t owe anyone anything.
You have a right to say no because you don’t owe anyone anything. Sometimes, feeling like you have to impress your dates can bring about major anxiety. But you don’t owe them anything, so don’t prioritize their wellbeing ahead of your own. Date the way you want to and don’t force yourself out of your comfort zone for them. Your only job is to take care of yourself.
Take safety precautions.
Taking safety precautions while dating is always a good idea. When you’ve suffered abuse in the past, it can help you to feel more confident as you open yourself up to someone new. For example, in the beginning, you might only want to go on daytime dates or meet in public places. Always tell someone you trust where you’re going before you leave for your date. Also, don’t give out unnecessary personal information.
Share what you feel comfortable with.
If the topic of your past comes up while you’re dating, you only have to share what you feel comfortable with. You can open up if you feel ready to, but don’t feel like you have to disclose every detail just because you’re dating someone. The full truth will come out naturally in time if that person really is a good fit for you.
Don’t expect your new date to heal you.
It’s absolutely possible to heal after an abusive relationship. Other people can help you reach that point, but ultimately, you have to be the one to heal yourself. A therapist will give you techniques, but you have to implement them. A date can be there for you, but you have to do the work to heal yourself. Expecting them to cure you puts unrealistic pressure on them and might even scare them away. It’s okay to date while you’re still broken, but know that you’re the one in control of your healing.
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