Breakup Survival

Week 4: Looking for Love ... Again

While the progression isn't exactly neat and tidy, once you've survived ground zero and worked your way through most of the rebuilding of yourself and your community, you'll be ready to begin settling into your new life. This is when you can start reaping the benefits of all of your hard work, all of the grieving and reassessment and restructuring.

While you can't change your past decisions, now is the time to change your expectations for your future relationships.

It's time to get a move on -- with your life, that is. Suddenly you find that, if you've really processed and accepted the past, you're raring to jump headlong into your new life -- with a vigor and enthusiasm you never could have imagined before. This is the time to really assess your possibilities and focus your attention on the present and the future. There'll likely be some stumbling blocks, but all in all it'll be full speed ahead.

How Can I Get Closure?
How do you know when the post-breakup process has come to an end? It's called closure, and it's different for everyone. It's a personal experience, based on your own self-reflection. No one can control how or when it will happen. It's a feeling that develops when you've taken the time to examine our past experiences and your feelings about them.

If you haven't experienced closure, there are several things you can do to work toward it. You could:

  • Take a few days to go alone to a place that is significant to you and allow yourself to experience a sort of ''cleansing'' of the old and initiation of the new
  • Make a scrapbook, cataloging your past relationship, revisiting old memories and fully grieve your loss
  • Pack up photos and mementos and bury them in a place that was significant to you and your partner
  • Strengthen old friendships and forge new ones
  • Enter therapy
  • Set firm boundaries with your ex-lover to be sure that you can fully move on in your new life, regardless of your partner's presence

Next page: Back in the dating game

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Closure is about the resolution of your feelings. It's up to you to decide how to achieve it -- whether you enter therapy to receive guidance, write unsent letters that express how you feel, talk with your former partner about your feelings or simply spend time alone and with friends processing and resolving your emotions.

The Dating Game
The idea of venturing out on that first date with someone, checking him or her out, and getting checked out, can make you feel anything from shyness to stark terror. The extremity of your emotional reaction may indicate how emotionally ready you are to get back into the dating pool. If you can't contemplate going out on a date without feeling queasy, you may not be ready. But don't underestimate the normal feelings of nervousness tied in to the dreaded first date. If you find your knees knocking in terror, try to remember that you're in good company, and that it does get easier with practice.Interestingly, many of the women we spoke to talked of dating before they were ready or having flings while they were still trying to get over their ended relationships. While this complicated matters for the majority of these women, there were no huge disasters to speak of. Perhaps this is an indication of how difficult it is to distinguish between normal dating jitters and dating too soon. There are rarely clear distinctions in matters of the heart. When the time is right, take a deep breath and just be your fabulous self.

Of course, you have one significant advantage at this point. After a relationship has ended, you have the opportunity to look back and examine it with the clarity of hindsight. While you can't change your past decisions, now is the time to change your expectations for your future relationships. Take some time to think about what kind of partner you're looking for this time around. Will he be similar to your last, or strikingly different? In what ways? Better yet, examine what kind of partner you will be to the next man in your life.

Next page: When your ex starts dating again

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When Your Ex Dates Again
Speaking of your ex, it's usually difficult to hear that that he has moved on to the next relationship -- no matter how far you've come in the healing process. It can feel like a further rejection or another dose of humiliation.

If your ex leaves you specifically for another person, you may be so shocked that you respond in ways you'd have never thought you would. Whether you have no feelings at all or are overwhelmed with grief, anger and humiliation, you can learn a lot about your beliefs by examining your responses. From there, you can decide what you'd like to change.

Another twist on this situation is when your ex starts dating someone who seems, at least superficially, to be a lot like you. Especially when your ex is the one who decided to end your relationship, it can be disconcerting to feel like he or she has gone out looking for your virtual twin. It can cause you to wonder: Why didn't my ex just stick with me? Don't be surprised if your work toward closure takes a slide back at this point. It's normal. Just trust your feelings, take good care of yourself and your hard work will pay off.

As you finish settling in to your post-breakup life, you have the opportunity to look back over how far you've come. Just as you once focused on the demolition and chaos the breakup brought, hopefully you can now sit back and relax into a remodeled life of your own making. While your life may look vastly different from the one you'd once envisioned for yourself, you may have found that it's your new circumstances that now feel like home to you. And by holding onto the courage it has taken to make this life transition, you'll have the tools to do any renovating or repairs that come up in your future. You've done it once. Ain't no stopping you now.

With so much hard work behind you, have you started thinking about what you will be looking for in your next relationship? Talk about it here!

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