When a relationship ends, the raw emotion is unrelenting, and you question so much about yourself and the relationship. The heart is broken beyond repair, and the mind is awash with memories and reflections as you try desperately to process all that has happened and all that you feel.
In the coming days, weeks, and months, when you feel like a broken version of yourself, emotionally drained and vulnerable, it is natural to question, “how will I put myself out there again, for the sake of love?” I asked my counselor this very question in the early stages of navigating the end of a four-year relationship, which had left me utterly crushed.
I genuinely feared how and why I would want to put myself back in a position of emotional vulnerability when all I had experienced in relationships was disappointment and hurt. The questions kept coming: How will I trust again?
When will I know I am ready?
Can I allow myself to be vulnerable again?
Will I repeat the same mistakes as before?
Can I trust my own judgment?
From this place of emotional exhaustion, the prospect of opening myself up to love again in the future felt overwhelming.
What I later realized, and what I say to you, is in those early weeks and months, do not burden yourself further and expend energy on something that can wait. When you are emotionally wounded, any thought that you would want, or be able, to put yourself into a relationship ever again and risk your heart will automatically feel scary and impossible. So do not go there in your head. Instead, focus on the present, be kind to yourself and take the time you need to heal. There is no rush. There is no defined timeline.
The end of a relationship is an opportunity for introspection and growth. When you do the inner work and forge a deeper relationship with yourself, the rewards can be rich. You will cultivate compassion and love for yourself and emerge certain in who you are. When you know your worth and show up confidently as your authentic self, these things will radiate outwards and attract the right kind of person.
Investing in yourself builds a strong foundation for all other relationships in your life.
You have taken the lessons that heartbreak taught you and are stronger and wiser now. There will still be moments of self-doubt, fuelled by a fear of slipping back into old patterns, of falling for potential, or the guy turning out to be a flake.
Almost two and a half years on from my own heartbreak, I often wonder if I can trust my judgment, despite the inner work. There have been times when I wanted to put up the walls and say no more, I am done, or I have told myself maybe I am just not meant to find lasting love.
It is perfectly normal to want to protect yourself. The truth is, if you give up on love and close your heart and feelings to others, you may avoid pain, but you also exclude yourself from the possibility of finding a love that gives you more than crumbs.
Rather than close yourself off, accept that love will always be risky and be reassured that history does not have to repeat itself. You have learned from your mistakes. You know what you deserve. Keep your standards high. Let go of the past. Let go of expectations and be open to the magic of possibilities. You are no longer broken, and you are not defined by past experiences.
Equally, the next person who enters your life will not be the same as those who have gone before. Refrain from comparison and judgment and allow their actions to prove worthy of you.
Experience has shown me that when we strengthen our relationship with the self, we become brave enough to let someone in again. It sounds cliché, but you will know when the time and the person is right for you to try again. It will likely take you by surprise. You begin to look at men through a lens of possibility and allow yourself to feel a hint of excitement when a guy shows a genuine interest in getting to know you.
When this moment of possibility arises, please take your time. As you get to know each other, stay in the present moment rather than project ahead about what may or may not happen. Be your authentic self, yet do not give too much of yourself too quickly. It is okay to let yourself feel again and flow organically in response to your heart while also listening quietly to your head.
Trust that the time invested in yourself will you guide to make better decisions. Experience and growth have brought you to a place of clarity about your green flags, those positive attributes that you are looking for in a guy, and the red flags that will no longer be overlooked.
Be sure to protect your heart but also keep it open.
Do not be afraid to let go of your fears or let a new person into your life. Courage and patience will eventually lead you to someone who will invest as willingly as you and who will love as deeply as you.
It may feel like a long wait, with disappointment along the way, but keep faith that what is meant for you will arrive in your life at exactly the right time. Give yourself the chance to accept the love you deserve and allow someone to love the incredible person you are.
Fall in love again in your own time, and until then, be your own anchor.