How do you know you’re ready to date again after abuse? Richard Grannon and I share our thoughts in this video.
Some of mine:
First, you need to feel healed enough to not compare the people you’re dating to the narcissist – at least not to the “good parts” of the narcissist. It’s so easy to focus on what you loved about the narcissist after spending time apart. So often, when survivors meet a “normal” person, they feel like the relationship isn’t quite as exciting or interesting as it was with the narcissist. That’s because a “normal” person doesn’t always do the extreme highs and lows that a narcissist does, and because our dopamine receptors are sort of broken when we’ve been abused.
So you need to feel strong enough to recognize that and make up for it with intentional thought management.
You need to have taken the time to grieve the relationship appropriately – and in most cases, that will take 3 months to a year, depending on the person.
You also need to love yourself enough to recognize and set boundaries that are comfortable – and well-enforced. For me, that involves a few deal-breakers. As in, things that I absolutely don’t tolerate and will leave the relationship for. In my case, that means cheating, verbal/physical abuse and anything that would hurt my kids. If those things happen, I’m out – no questions asked. Outside of that, we can talk about it and try to work through it.
Next, you need to feel ready to meet someone new, but not “desperate” to do so. This way, you can (and you absolutely should) take any new relationship slowly enough to get to know the person and discover any potential red flags – and you won’t end up enmeshed before you know it. Be aware that “love” at first sight is nearly impossible.
Be sure you’re not feeling overly pessimistic, cynical, insecure, defeated, anxious, angry, martyred or exploited still – that’s going to cause you a lot of issues and problems with your future relationship.
You definitely want to be healed enough that you don’t inavertently try to make your next relationship sort of make up for all the pain you experienced from the last one.
If you try to date too soon, you might find yourself being hyper-vigilant, ready to catch any hint that the discard is coming, and seeking constant reassurance from a new partner who isn’t responsible for what happened to you. This will sabotage any potentially successful couple from the start.