By: Sally Connolly
Questions to Ask Yourself After Ending One Relationship and Before Beginning Another
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the best way to heal from a broken heart is to get right back into a new relationship. Rarely is that the best way to heal. It is like trying to cover up a wound without cleaning it out first.
Lost relationships deserve to be grieved. Even if the choice was yours to end it, there is still the loss of the hopes and the dreams that must be faced.
Go slowly into a new relationship. Take time, significant time. While there is no “magic number” for how long to wait before beginning a new relationship, think in terms of months rather than weeks. Some experts suggest that you should wait a month for every year that you were in the relationship before jumping back into another one.
Thinking, journaling, talking out loud with a trusted friend or therapist will help you walk this walk in a way that will allow you to come out stronger, smarter and with more emotional intelligence.
Here are some suggestions for questions to journal, think and talk out loud about. Be sure to go through them several times. With distance, there can be new understanding.
Questions about the relationship that just ended
Look to the relationship that has just ended for learning about yourself in a relationship. Understand, as well as you can, what you did well and what might help you choose and/or be a better partner in a new relationship.
These questions are good ones to ask yourself as a relationship is ending, several weeks after it is over and again several months later. Distance often brings new perspective.
- Why do I think that my last relationship ended?
- What would my partner say was the reason that the relationship did not work?
- Is there any pattern between the ending of this relationship and the ending of other relationships?
- Is this relationship truly over or is there unfinished business with that partner?
- How intense are my feelings for my former partner, both positive and negative?
- Have I accepted completely the end of the relationship and the hope that it will pick up again some day?
- Have I fully grieved the loss of that relationship?
Questions about my choice in a partner
Some people seem to make the same mistakes over and over again. Choices are often made that are familiar and feel comfortable. When the choices are healthy ones, then the possibility of a good relationship is high. When choices in partners are negative ones, it is only a matter of time before the relationship develops problems.
Ask yourself these questions about how you make choices in a partner.
- What have I learned about the choices that I make in partners?
- Do I seem to be picking the same kind of person or making the same mistakes over and over again when making a choice? (Do I often pick partners that are disrespectful? Distant? Have difficulty with affection? Abusive? Have addictive personalities?, etc.)
- Have I clearly identified what characteristics, qualities and values are important to me in a partner?
- Am I looking to find something in someone else that I don’t have in myself?
- Am I more concerned about whether or not the other person is right for me than if I am right for them?
- Do I know that I cannot change another person?
Questions about my part in the relationship, both the positive and the parts needing change
No relationship ends completely because of one person. Even if the choice was a bad one, part of the reason it got bad has to do with the dance between you and your partner. Carefully look at how you handled situations and ways that you treated your partner.
- What have I learned that I have done well in relationships?
- What have I learned that I need to do differently?
- Do I sabotage myself in relationships?
- Have I received any advice from a trusted source that might give me information about how to be a better partner in a relationship?
Questions about my readiness for a new relationship
Being part of a healthy relationship requires being a whole and healthy person. While it is very nice to have a companion and a witness to your life, it is important to feel comfortable with yourself and with your life when you are on your own and before entering a new relationship. Here are some questions to help you asses your readiness for a new relations.
- Do I feel strongly about myself and about my own identity?
- Do I get my sense of self from people that I date?
- Do I know the components of an emotionally intelligent relationship?
- Do I know how to be a healthy and emotionally intelligent partner?
- Do I have other things going on in my life that are fulfilling and rewarding or do I spend my life around my dating partner?
- Do I have other intimate (non-sexual) relationships?
- Is there anything that I am afraid of or avoiding?
- Do I have any behaviors that are out of control (drinking, shopping, work, etc.)?
- Do I know what I want to get out of dating … a committed relationship? Fun?
- Do I know how to be open and direct about my needs with my partner?
No one ever figures everything out about themselves and others in relationships; however, the better that you define what you want and need in a relationship, the more likely it is that you will find someone who can be whole, healthy and a good fit for you. The more you understand yourself and ways to observe, act and assess yourself and your partner, the more likely you are to be half of an emotionally intelligent relationship.
Comment: I chose this article, because it gives us questions to ponder to better help ourselves during a relationship ending and beginning. In particular it starts to teach a skill of being self critical by asking questions such as: “Do I have any behaviors that are out of control?” These sort of thoughts are fundamental to improving oneself after a relationship has ended, or even in an effort to support an ongoing relationship. I think teaching students to think from a critical perspective in terms of themselves in a relationship is extremely important for good personal growth.