Q: I have been in an emotionally violent relationship for 15 years. My ex-partner put me down regularly, blamed me for everything, and was extremely controlling.
I finally left the relationship about 4 months ago.
My friends and family are encouraging me to start dating again. The idea of taking this step seems terrifying.
Although I am starting to find myself, my confidence has been really damaged by this relationship.
I can’t imagine trusting anyone at this point and even trusting myself to make good decisions.
Not to mention that it seems like online dating is the norm these days, which seems very vulnerable and foreign to me.
Is this a sign that I’m not ready to date myself yet, or am I supposed to overcome my fears?
A: Healing from an abusive relationship is a process.
Of course, you want to be able to move forward in life to seek out the healthy relationships you deserve, but putting yourself there to find that fit can be a tough step.
You have identified three current barriers, including confidence, confidence, and new approaches to dating.
Let’s discuss each of these elements separately.
Control is at the heart of relationship violence.
One tactic that abusers use to gain and maintain control is to slowly destroy your self-confidence and self-esteem.
It will take time, support, and self-esteem to build that backup.
I personally think this is the most important wound to heal before entering the dating world again, as it will be your shield to protect you in the future.
If you have self-confidence and high self-esteem, you will be better equipped to set healthy expectations and boundaries in future relationships.
Trusting others to treat you well in the future is a difficult decision when someone you love deeply has broken that commitment time and time again.
Unfortunately, you cannot control other people, and there is no sure-fire way to avoid getting hurt again in the future.
What you are controlling is learning to trust yourself.
You can learn to trust that even if someone hurts you again, you will be okay.
It will hurt, but you’ll have the support, the resources, and the ability to take care of yourself and you’ll be fine eventually.
Taking the time to reflect on what you’ve learned from your previous relationships can also help build the confidence in yourself that you’ll be wiser this time around when selecting a new partner.
A new world of dating
Entering the dating world after 15 years is quite different.
While there are many other ways you can still meet people, dating sites have become extremely popular.
Online dating can seem overwhelming because it is different from your previous dating experience and there are so many platforms to choose from.
Different is not always bad though. Whichever way you decide to try to meet people, I would recommend that you go through this process with the goal of meeting new faces and experiencing what it feels like with different personalities. .
This will give you some time to explore what you are looking for in a relationship in this new phase of life.
Release the pressure and make it too serious with someone you just met.
If you choose to explore online dating sites, try to find someone you know who has experience with online dating to help you navigate the process early on.
Also, be sure to take the time and learn security measures when communicating with new people online.
In summary, there is no specific rule about when you should consider going out again.
Take the time to heal, but don’t hold back from going out just out of fear.
No matter what stage you decide to take this step at, it will likely be uncomfortable at first.
Take your time and go slow, but commit to finding the relationship you desire.
If you have a question relating to emotional well-being that you would like to submit for consideration for posting and addressing in this column, you can email your requests to [email protected]
Kristin Woodling is a Certified Mental Health Consultant and CEO of Pamper Your Mind LLC in Satellite Beach. Details about the practice and the services provided can be found on pamperyourmind.