“Sometimes when our hearts are broken, we want to find someone new to love us as soon as possible. This is natural – but unwise…”- Relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist, Leandie Buys.
In the excerpt from Seasons of Sex below, Leandie Buys discusses how to start your life over again after divorce, and what important questions you need to ask yourself before you’re ready to move on.
Don’t look for love immediately – heal yourself first
Sometimes when our hearts are broken, we want to find someone new to love us as soon as possible. This is natural – but unwise.
Rather embrace your single life wholeheartedly for six months or so. Discover who YOU are again. Learn about yourself as a single person. You’ll know you’re starting to heal from your heartache when you can get through a whole day without thinking about your ex.
Tips for grieving after a breakup or divorce:
1. Don’t fight your feelings
It’s normal to have lots of ups and downs, and feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion. It’s important to identify and acknowledge these feelings. While these emotions will often be painful, trying to suppress or ignore them will only prolong the grieving process.
2. Talk about how you’re feeling
Even if it is difficult for you to talk about your feelings with other people, it is very important to find a way to do so when you are grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your feelings will make you feel less alone with your pain and will help you heal. Journaling can also be a helpful outlet for your feelings.
3. Remember that moving on is the end goal
Expressing your feelings will liberate you in a way, but it is important not to dwell on the negative feelings or to over-analyse the situation. Getting stuck in hurtful feelings like blame, anger and resentment will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from healing and moving forward.
4. Remind yourself that you still have a future
When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams. It’s hard to let these dreams go. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones.
5. Spend time with people who support, value, and energise you
As you consider who to reach out to, choose wisely. Surround yourself with people who are positive and who truly listen to you. It’s important that you feel free to be honest about what you’re going through, without worrying about being judged, criticized, or told what to do.
6. Get outside help if you need it
If reaching out to others doesn’t come naturally, consider seeing a counsellor or joining a support group. The most important thing is that you have at least one place where you feel comfortable opening up.
7. Cultivate new friendships
If you feel like you have lost your social network along with the divorce or breakup, make an effort to meet new people. Join a networking group or special interest club, take a class, get involved in community activities, or volunteer at your school, synagogue, or church.
Important lessons to learn from a divorce or breakup – acknowledge the part you played
In times of emotional crisis, there is an opportunity to grow and learn. Just because you are feeling emptiness in your life right now, doesn’t mean that nothing is happening or that things will never change.
Consider this period a time-out, a time for sowing the seeds for new growth. You can emerge from this experience knowing yourself better and feeling stronger.
In order to fully accept a breakup and move on, you need to understand what happened and acknowledging the part you played. It’s important to understand how the choices you made affected the relationship. Learning from your mistakes is the key to not repeating them.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Step back and look at the big picture. How did you contribute to the issues in the relationship?
- Do you tend to repeat the same mistakes or choose the wrong person in relationship after relationship?
- Think about how you react stress and deal with conflict and insecurities. Could you act in a more constructive way?
- Consider whether or not you accept other people the way they are, not the way they could or “should” be.
- Examine your negative feelings as a starting point for change. Are you in control of your feelings, or are they in control of you?