If you’ve recently ended a marriage and you’re ready to start dating again, there’s one key concern to be on the lookout for: projecting your feelings toward your old partner onto your current dating relationship,
Most people, long after the marriage is over, have unfinished feelings toward their ex-partner. And this unfinished business can play out in your dating life.
If you’re not careful, you can get stuck in a dangerous cycle.
You’ll meet someone new, get excited, but eventually get scared when your new partner begins to act in ways that remind you of your old partner. Then you’ll retreat from the relationship, get lonely, and start the dating cycle all over again.
To help, if you’re beginning to date again following the end of a marriage or a long-term relationship, I’d like to give you two recommendations.
First, if the new relationship is becoming difficult in the ways that remind you of your old relationship, and you begin to feel that you’re repeating the same patterns with a new partner, don’t retreat. Instead, lean into the relationship by inviting a dialog in which you share your feelings and your needs in a thoughtful, empathetic way.
Ask your new partner to join you in resolving the issues, together. That’s how new relationships are built.
Second, be aware of the unresolved feelings that might have carried over from your marriage. Take the time to do your own work to resolve those feelings.
Try buying a workbook, or go to a men’s or women’s group where you can talk through your feelings, or seek out help from a therapist such as myself. You can also find help online in an ethical chat room that’s designed for recently divorced people.
In short, find outlets where you feel safe expressing all of what you feel about your marriage.
That way, you won’t bring your feelings about your old marriage into your new relationship.