The Dating Journey: From the Break Up to the Pre-Dating Checklist

The Dating Journey: From the Break Up to the Pre-Dating Checklist

You Are Just No Longer Part of My Story

Leaving relationships is hard. Losing a best friend, a companion, a cheerleader, is one of the most challenging moments in our lives. Learning how to do it well, and with compassion, is part of the process of growth. If we get mortally wounded every time a relationship goes south, we’re going to die soon. Or, at least, we’re going to be sitting on the sidelines, outside the arena of relationships, and trying to heal ourselves, figure out what went wrong, and get ourselves ready for another run at relationship building.

Let’s Breakup with Compassion

The first order of business, barring an egregious violation of the relationship, is to accept that the relationship is over. Take our share of the blame. (So we can learn from it.) And give the same love to our former partners, as we would if they were merely taking an extended vacation to Siberia. We can say goodbye without shame, blame, or drama. We simply state, “I can no longer hold my place in this relationship. I need to move on.” And then we must move on.

Loving-kindness is the order of the day. You don’t suddenly stop loving someone. You may be angry with them, for the wrongs you feel caused the failure of the relationship, BUT, you are probably not seeing the whole picture. And certainly, we can agree, you are only seeing your side of the picture. Okay, let’s agree to break up. Let’s try “conscious uncoupling” as Chris Martin and Ms. Paltrow so proudly claimed about their very public divorce

Let’s Breakup with Dispassion

We also need to begin removing the passionate part of the exchange with our former partners as soon as possible. We don’t have to completely cut them off (although that might be a necessary strategy, depending on your frame of mind) but we need to begin closing out the chambers of our heart that are still harboring romantic fantasies and desires about them. As of this moment, they are no longer a potential relationship, they have become former partners.

Our task is to lessen the drama during and after the breakup. If you can move your things out of their house (if you were living together) while they are not around, you will avoid a lot of unnecessary drama. Here is the good news, if you take this approach: the drama is over. You no longer have to engage with them in heated negotiations. The negotiations have ended, the truce and rebuilding outside this relationship has begun. It’s time to let go. It’s time to de-escalate the emotional connection. It’s time to begin to write a new story that no longer contains this person.

Searching for Closure That Will Never Come

As much as you’d like to believe in “closure,” there is no final conversation or revelation that’s going to make you feel better. Your former partner may offer an apology as a way to close their wound, but it won’t feel like a real apology. It will feel more like a sympathy card from Hallmark. While we’d love to get some loving understanding of what went wrong, that understand will never come from our former partners. Once we’ve said “I’m out” there is no going back. Ever. Here’s why.

Once the “divorce” or “breaking up” gun has been loaded and placed on the kitchen table between you, it can never be unloaded. If one partner has reached the “I’ve gone to see an attorney” moment, there is never going to be a safe moment in the future of your relationship. They can hide the gun. Apologize for the gun. Try to unload the gun. But, as we know from movies, if a gun shows up in the movie, it’s only a matter of time before it is fired.

By seeking or hoping for closure from your former spouse, lover, girlfriend, you are leaving a small emotional opening for them to get back into your heart. This is NOT what you want. Your job, after the gun has been placed on the table, and after the relationship is over, is to close those open connections. You cannot hope for closure from a person who is holding the smoking gun. And, even if you are the one holding the smoking gun, you cannot offer “closure” to comfort the dying. The relationship is dying, and you may both be trying to resuscitate the corpse for emotional reasons, but it’s best to call the coroner and move on with the next chapter of your life.

Let’s Move On with Our Next Relationship Experience

Depending on your state of mind, after the breakup of a significant relationship, you should pause before jumping back into the dating pool. Give your body the chance to really miss the former partner, the way they smell, their smile in the morning when you bring them coffee, the feel of their hand in your hand while binge-watching a show. Those feelings will fade in time. You will hurt most acutely in the days immediately following your breakup. But, as time passes, you will find that watching Netflix alone is better than watching it with a loaded gun in the house.

When you are ready to consider the next relationship, please make sure you are ready. Here’s a short checklist, I sometimes use with clients to give them an understanding of their own health and wellbeing.

The Pre-Dating Checklist

  • Are you okay being alone? (Have you learned to date yourself, give yourself gifts, put a good bit of time into self-care routines)
  • How is your heart? (If you are still sad, lonely, tired, hopeless, cynical, angry, or jealous the next relationship will probably reflect those characteristics too, as people attract others with similar issues.)
  • Are you aware of your part in your last few breakups? (If you don’t know what caused the breakup, you might want to make a list and try and work through it with a coach or a friend.)
  • Are you clear on what great qualities you bring into any new relationship? (You are the catch! You are awesome. You have special qualities that make you unique. By knowing them you can stand tall in your exploration phase of dating again.)
  • Are you clear on what you want in a relationship?
  • Are you clear on what you MUST-HAVE in a relationship?
  • Are you good at asking for what you want?

When you are able to go through this pre-dating checklist with gold stars next to each item, you are ready to date again. Don’t force it. Don’t rush into the dating game if you are still struggling with any of your own issues. Give yourself the time you need to feel lonely, and the time you then need to be able to take care of that loneliness while you’re still alone.

From the position of strength and clarity, you can set out on our next relationship adventure with all of your confidence and energy pointing towards your goal. You do know your goal, right?

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find fulfilling relationships. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your post-divorce challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.

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