After having been in a long-term relationship, getting back into the dating world can prove to be tricky, if not, a difficult task.
You’ve become so used to one person’s habits, temper and way of life among other things, going back out there to start right from the beginning is not an easy dynamic to navigate.
Counselling Psychologist, Banetsi Mphunga, outlines some of the challenges that someone who finds themselves in this predicament faces.
“Depending on one’s reason for exiting that relationship, the person is more likely to enter a new relationship on guard, so that whatever happened in the person’s previous relationship doesn’t happen again,” Mphunga says.
“Also, often times the person will have a lot of trust issues, and a deep-set sense of insecurity to such an extent that everything that the person will do will be for the approval of the other party in the relationship, in an effort to prove to the partner that he/she is enough for the them.”
Mphunga also says that one could also be emotionally unavailable in the new relationship because he/she entered into it not because he/she wanted to, but because the situation one found him/herself called for it.
“Maybe one came out of a relationship that had financial security and is looking for that financial security in another relationship, this can lead to being absent in the new relationship,” he explains.
OVERCOMING THESE CHALLENGES
Overcoming these challenges, in big part, has a lot to do with a changing of one’s mindset and a letting go of expectations Mphunga says.
“I often tell my clients that they should take a new relationship as a new leaf; a turning of a new page. Don’t come with high expectations because you’re starting something that you are not sure about. A new relationship is always unpredictable,” he says.
He goes on further to say that when you come into a new relationship with a blank page, then you and your newly acquired partner will be able to go through the relationship without the baggage both of you might carry from your old relationships.
MISTAKES TO AVOID
Mphunga again reiterates that the biggest mistake one should avoid when entering a new relationship is the high expectations, which include looking for traits in your new partner that you’re old partner had.
“One might’ve come out a relationship where one’s partner was either quite controlling or submissive, the mistake made here is that one might expect that his/her new partner will conform to these roles and this might not be the case,” he says.
Also, Mphunga explains that often when one comes out of a financially benefitting relationship, it’s highly likely that when one comes out of that relationship, they will feel exposed and left with nothing. This will often lead the person to look for someone that will provide the same things that the person has been used to for years.
“This will end up with the person not only compromising his/her values, but also compromising him/herself and won’t foster a happy and healthy relationship,” he explains.
Essentially, it all goes back to an individual managing their expectations as they jump back into the dating pool.
HOW TO KNOW THAT YOU’RE READY
Now, before one even gets into another relationship after having spent a bulk of his/her adult life with one person, the biggest thing to ponder is: “Am I ready?”
It’s not uncommon for one to go through immense emotional turmoil following this type of break-up, and this is what Mphunga refers to as Post Break-Up Stress/ Post Divorce Stress.
Following or even during this stage, is when one needs to find themselves again as an individual body. Mphunga says that this is also the time when one should look back at his/her past relationship introspectively and figure out how one can do things better the next time.
“One needs to ponder on him/herself, and his/her ideals. And through this process, one can figure out what it is he/she wants, and what it is he/she are unwilling to compromise on,” Mphunga explains.
“Also one should immerse him/herself into a lot of recreational activities, socialising with people before jumping into the next relationship,” he says.