Before you go looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, there are some important questions to consider. Without thoughtful preparation, you’ll find yourself having the same old relationship with a different person.
At some point during or after your divorce, you’ll probably become interested in the possibility of finding a new partner. Statistics show that 75% of divorced people get married again within five years. Even if you think you’re ready for a new committed relationship, there are some important areas that you should consciously examine before you begin your search for Mr. or Ms. Right.
Start by carefully considering this question: “Am I really ready for a relationship?” Being “ready” involves some very important factors. First of all, you need to be sure that you truly love yourself. Second, you must have dealt properly with past issues and emotional baggage. Third, you should have a clear sense of why you want to be in a relationship. Fourth, you must ask yourself whether or not you are prepared (both able and willing) to put in the work and effort required for a loving, committed relationship.
You must be totally honest with yourself when considering these four factors. If there is any sign of hesitation or uncertainty in any of these areas, you’ll need to go back to lay the groundwork before you can build a healthy relationship.
Before even considering a loving relationship with another, you have to love yourself. You have to remember your priorities. It all starts with you. In order to be capable of giving love to another person, you need to give love to yourself, first. In order to recognize when you are receiving genuine love from another person, you must first honor your worthiness to receive love. You have to know who you truly are: you must be aware of your own abilities, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses. You have to like yourself as a person, inside and out. You need to have self-respect and self-confidence. And above all, you have to be honest with yourself. The ability to make good choices — in a partner or in life — flows from having a genuine love and respect for yourself.
The second step to prepare yourself for a healthy, committed relationship is to deal with your unresolved childhood issues and/or emotional baggage from past relationships. Often, unresolved issues — whether from childhood, past relationships, or some emotional trauma — hold us back in our current lives.
If your ex-spouse betrayed you, emotionally or physically, you may now feel you can’t trust or commit to a new partner. If you had a parent who was physically or emotionally abusive, you have probably attracted partners who continue this pattern of abuse. Perhaps there is nothing in particular you can point to, except for the fact that you never seem to be able to find a relationship that lasts.
Whatever the issue or concern may be, if you have not been able to resolve it on your own — and it’s still affecting your view of yourself or your view of relationships — you may wish to seek help from a therapist, counselor, or other qualified professional to help you sort through these issues.
The third step requires you to consider another very important question: “Why do I want a relationship?” There are good reasons and there are bad reasons; one of the worst is to try to complete a part of yourself that you feel is missing. How many times have I heard someone say that they will finally be totally happy when they meet their soulmate? One individual will not make you feel whole if you feel incomplete.
If you’re actively pursuing a relationship, you might be saying to yourself, “I’m not happy unless I’m in a relationship” or “There’s something wrong with me if I’m not in a relationship.” This isn’t true: there are a lot of happy single people in the world today. Completion and happiness can’t come solely from a loving relationship with another person. Loving relationships succeed only when both partners already are happy and complete within themselves. A partner should complement an already fulfilled life, not complete an unfulfilled one. When two complete individuals unite together in their life’s journey, they have the capacity to create the loving, passionate, committed relationship they desire.
Finally, there is one other question you should consider: “Am I willing and able to put in the effort required for a committed, loving relationship?” All relationships take work. The idea promoted in fairy tales — that you will meet your Prince (or Princess) Charming and live Happily Ever After without any moments of stress or discord — is false. Even if you find your soulmate, you’ll be faced with challenges and disagreements at times. So before you commit to a relationship, you need to examine whether or not you’re prepared to do the work it takes to make a relationship successful.
Suppose you meet all four of these criteria:
1. You love yourself.
2. You have dealt with any issues that may impede your ability to bond with another person in a healthy way.
3. You know why you want a relationship, and the reasons seem to be good ones.
4. You are committed to putting forth the effort it takes to create a solid relationship.
What next? Well, it sounds like you’re ready to go in search of a new partner. As a happy, self-fulfilled person, you’ll be able to recognize the right person to share a committed, loving relationship.
Copyright ©2000 by Paul Mauchline, a writer, lecturer, and expert on love and relationships. The founder of The Art of Loving Institute, he leads workshops and seminars in “beautiful by nature” Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands, located in the Caribbean. The Art of Lovingª Workshop provides you with the skills you need to create a successful, loving relationship. For more information, visit his website at www.artofloving.com