This week’s question comes from Kaitlin in Oregon:
“Just over a year ago the love of my life ended our four year relationship. I felt like part of me died, I still feel that way sometimes. I haven’t even tried dating since the break-up, as I feel it wouldn’t be fair to any men they may be interested in me. I’m not sure that I could give 100%, because I am not fully over my ex. I may never be.”
“Do you think that if I get out there and start dating it will help me get over him? … or do you think I need to stay out of the dating scene until I feel that I’m over him? Do you have any advice as to how I can move forward and get over the heartbreak?”
I actually went through this with my first wife. I believed that she was the love of my life, and when we broke up the pain lasted for a very long time. I didn’t think I was over her for years and years, and truthfully, it was very difficult to date and really get fully committed.
In hindsight, if I had to do it all over again, I would still go back out there and date …but not the way that I dated. I basically started dating for physical contact rather than for any sort of emotional contact. Now that I know that I wouldn’t be over her for several years or longer (in my case it was 6 or 7 years), perhaps I shouldn’t have taken dating as seriously as I did after the break-up.
Knowing that healing could be a long process makes going out on dates a lot easier. Knowing that you’re going out and that it’s probably not going to work out with this person, allows you to put it things in perspective and just enjoy the time that you have with them.
I suggest that you get back out in the dating scene, learn about yourself a little more, and try not to look for the exact same thing when seeking the new love of your life …because let’s face it, it didn’t work out the first time.
Rather than trying to recreate the relationship that you had, which is only going to make things worse, focus on what didn’t work in the relationship and the parts that didn’t agree with you. Reflecting on these things will ultimately help you recognize what you don’t want in your next relationship.
Essentially, I’m a big believer in getting back out on the dating scene. No one needs to be sitting at home, hoarding cats, becoming that old maid that never gets married. You should always be out there looking and trying to build better relationships …with different people if you can.
You need to be looking to new people, rather than recreating old relationships, and accept that while you may not be 100% ready, building new relationships is a great step towards getting over him.
Also weighing in on this question is Jen Gargotto, author of MsMorphosis.com, a self-improvement blog for modern women and author of the e-book, Navigating Dating: A Single Woman’s Guide to Dating Without Losing Herself.
First of all, everything you’re feeling is real, and, like Trigg said, it’s something many people can relate to. I wrote a post once on my site MsMorphosis titled “Why Do Breakups Break Us?” (It is now a part of the book Navigating Dating) and I was astounded at the response I received. Tons of emails poured in, and the conclusion across the board was that none of the feelings I had experienced were unique.
It is like a part of you has died, because that’s what happens when we start sharing our lives with someone. Not only do they become a part of our routines, they become our comfort, our rock, the person with whom we share friends, a home, dreams, and plans. It’s no wonder that when the relationship breaks it’s not just the death of a relationship, but rather the death of many parts of us.
That said, I hate to say this, but it has to be said: he wasn’t the love of your life, because the love of your life wouldn’t leave. Yes, it’s true, no one has to love us, but I have to believe that the love of your life would have given you many explicit changes to change whatever was wrong and work with you so that you two could preserve your relationship. Obviously, with how much he means to you and how long you were together, it was a very deliberate choice of his to end it.
So #1 – Recognize that your feelings are real, rational, and you aren’t the first to feel them, you’re okay.
#2 – Accept that he was not the love of your life, or he would still be here – since you are, in fact, alive.
#3 – Like Trigg said, get back out there. Sister, it’s been a year. No you might not be able to give some new guy you meet 100% of you, but, take my word for it, very few men are looking for 100% on a first date (you know what men are looking for on a first date, and it certainly isn’t to be the next love of your life).
Get back out there and start enjoying people and relationships again. Make some bad decisions. Have some fun. You don’t want to be that girl that her girlfriends can’t stand anymore because every time they talk, for years, it’s about “him.” You need to go back out there so that you can grow, and forget, and, if nothing else, get a little distracted.
There will be good days and there will be bad days. Heartbreak, I’m convinced, is one of the most terrifying things on earth – it’s why people put up boundaries in relationships, and thousands of country songs are written. But, my friend, you can’t stop living. The love of your life is still out there, I promise.
One of MMA’s most recognized personalities, Frank Trigg dishes on love and the male psyche in “Ask Trigg – A Dating and Relationship Blog for Women” featured exclusively on ProMMANow.com. Each week the mixed martial arts fighter, color commentator and MMA spokesman gives advice to female readers based on questions they have submitted. Ladies can send their dating and relationship questions to AskTrigg@gmail.com.