So you’re contemplating the start of a new relationship? Before you jump in head (or should I say heart) first, take a mental inventory to see whether or not relationship haunts of past are looming over your shoulder.
I’ve heard people say, “With this relationship, I’ll be different! I won’t make the same mistakes of my past”. So I’ll ask, “What kind of mistakes did you make?” to only be met with wide eyes, silence, and a face that looks like the pondering emoticon.
Definition is clarity.
If you’re at that place of uncertainty, here are the top 7 indicators that you need to put the brakes on starting your next relationship:
1. You have not waited a sufficient amount of time before ending your last relationship and starting your next.
I can’t quantify an exact number, but you know deep down if you’re ready or not. Ending a year-long relationship and then starting one within a week after the break up is not a sufficient amount of time.
In order to move forward, you must heal from the past. Relational splits can be difficult. Our brains need time to let go and form a new relationship with ourselves. Taking the time to get to know your new single self and stand alone is one of the healthiest things you can do.
“One of the best times for figuring out who you are & what you really want out of life? Right after a break-up.” ― Mandy Hale
2. You’re not over your ex.
Look, I wouldn’t have written this one if I haven’t heard it time and time again. Becoming involved with a new person is not going to cause you to get over your ex faster! Using your new love interest as a distraction technique is a disservice to them and a lazy, superficial way for you to attempt to move on.
Beginning something new does not erase your past. It can help alleviate some pain, but it’s a band-aid that will quickly fall off if bumped too hard.
3. You use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.
Whether you’re drinking your pain away with alcohol, smoking 5 J’s [joints] a day, or shooting up heroin, substances are all the same in what they ultimately do—NUMB. I’ve heard a myriad of responses about why people abuse substances ranging from “I’m bored” to “I hate my job” to the deeper clinical issues of “I was sexually abused” but essentially the common denominator is that the use of substances provides an escape from facing something in your life.
When you use substances, your thinking becomes cloudy. Everything is cast in a different light than when you are sober. Why do you think that alcohol is called a social lubricant? It makes it easier for people to connect albeit it being a superficial connection.
Think about it: if you are struggling with substance abuse before becoming involved with someone, this is a tell-tale sign that you’re not ready for the ups and downs of a relationship. Substances become a crutch for when the going gets tough and if you can’t handle stress while sober, then there’s a good chance that you will not be able to clear-headedly and transparently handle relationship stress that arises.
4. You go into the relationship with the expectation (or hidden agenda) that your partner will finance your life.
Please don’t get me wrong, I know that when you get married, or begin a partnership with someone, the finances will be evaluated. There should be discussion (from the beginning) about how much each person will contribute and what the budget is.
I’m referring to the mindset of marrying for money. You become involved with someone for financial security, quit your job, and swear that you are now a ‘kept’ man or woman. Unless that is the understanding in your relationship, then this is completely unfair to your partner.
We are all adults. We should be taking care of ourselves and when we do meet someone, we should be confident in our ability to care for ourselves. What happens if your partner decides to leave you and you don’t have a penny to your name or decided to drop out of college because your lover was there and you “just didn’t need to work so hard anymore”?
Life happens. People leave one another. It is a sad and hard truth but it is a truth. If you’re unable to support yourself and go into the situation where you’re expecting to be cared for completely in the financial department—then take a step back. You’re not ready to be in a relationship.
You must learn how to take care of yourself independent of anyone, first. Financial independence is freeing and your level of self-efficacy/belief in yourself raises exponentially when you’re able to provide for yourself.
5. You’re insecure to the point it affects your daily living.
We all struggle with moments of insecurity but usually the clinical rule of thumb on whether or not something is a diagnosable issue is whether or not it’s impacting your life and your ability to carry out your daily functioning.
Do you depend on other people for validation of how wonderful you are, unable to realize your value on your own [read self-worth]?
Do you struggle with liking who you are as a person and does this affect your ability to interact with others?
Do you focus more on your outward appearance than you do on cultivating your soul’s appearance?
If you answered yes to those questions then insecurity may be an inhibiting visitor in your life that is taking up the space that a healthy, potential lover could be. Hold off on starting the new relationship and focus on the development of self-esteem and knowing your worth in the world.
“As long as you look for someone else to validate who you are by seeking their approval, you are setting yourself up for disaster. You have to be whole and complete in yourself. No one can give you that. You have to know who you are – what others say is irrelevant.” ― Nic Sheff
6. You don’t know what you will and will not accept in a relationship.
There are the main non-negotiables that I mentioned in my previous post (#Relationshipgoals we should all strive for, 6 non-negotiables traits), but how about the day-to-day interactions that occur that essentially teach another person how to treat you?
Bringing it to life: you’re home on a Saturday night, when your new suitor or suitress texts you. It’s 11:30 and you’ve got your jammies on and are about to call it a night…they ask what you’re doing and do you want to hang out? Would you respond or would you ignore it? I’ve seen men and women respond in various ways but more often than not, the people who allowed the person to come over never had a lasting relationship with the other person.
Figure out what your boundaries are. You teach another person how you want to be treated by allowing them to behave in certain ways with you. When someone is truly interested in you, they will meet you where you’re at and treat you the way you expect to be treated.
Before reacting on a situation, always think about what message you’re sending by allowing it to happen or conversely, not happen.
You are in charge of what you will and will not accept in a relationship.
7. You’ve never owned a pet.
Aright, you can laugh. This one is a bit optional but the validity is there. You will learn so much about yourself when you own a pet. Gone are the days of going out after work, instead it’s “I’ll meet you guys there in 30, I have to go let my dog out!” No more staying the night out unexpectedly, because you now have a little furry buddy that is dependent on you to be fed, let out, and taken care of.
Owning a pet equates to having an added voluntary level of responsibility.
Taking on a new relationship is also usually an added voluntary level of responsibility. Relationships with both your pet and your human have to be nurtured. And owning a pet can be a great precursor to knowing how to show up when you say you will and just step outside of yourself and care for another being.
Tying it all together…
The start of a new, healthy relationship has the potential to be one of the most beautiful experiences in your life! However, in order for a new relationship to be successful, you must deal with inner demons, making sure that you are healed from your past and are currently living a healthy existence. One that is free from inhibiting insecurity, substance abuse, and turning a blind eye to unacceptable treatment from others.
You are worthy of finding your other half. But when you meet them, I encourage you to take responsibility and action in being the best version of yourself that you can be.
New day, new opportunities for growth!
Wishing you a healthy relationship with yourself and others today and every day,