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Dating Again? Symbolic Images for Success

Readiness for dating can be more successful with mindful reflection.

Key points

  • Breakups can be painful and can also serve as a source of more learning.
  • Intrapersonal as well as interpersonal exploration is needed for relational growth.
  • Balance, alignment, and mindful awareness of patterns assist in positive partner choice.

A breakup or uncoupling is hard. There are many feelings that can unfold during this time, including anger, sadness, regret, confusion, and relief. Honoring a transitional or grieving period is generally quite valuable, especially as this will assist in avoiding the rebound effect of jumping in too quickly to a new relationship. The amount of time that individuals need between the ending of one relationship and the start of another is quite variable, though most individuals seem to underestimate the in-between healing time needed.

But once someone is ready to re-engage in the dating scene, there are some intrapersonal and interpersonal reflections that can be helpful. Using several mindful metaphors, five areas for consideration are offered. These items won’t be obvious by only looking at someone’s photo or fully outlined on someone’s dating profile alone; meeting, talking, reflecting, and spending time together will be necessary. This isn’t always simple, but there can be happiness even after.

Source: Pexels/Pixabay
Source: Pexels/Pixabay

A Tree With Solid Roots

Rather than concentrating only on meeting the right person, there is also wisdom in being the right person. If we aren’t being truthful to ourselves and our needs, it can be difficult to truly align values and interests with someone else. Rather than being more like a leaf being blown this way or that by the wind of the moment, standing more solidly and confidently allows us to be our fuller, more fun, and truly authentic self. Trees with roots still have the flexibility to sway and move with the wind as needed but aren’t so pliable that they are floating all over the place on others’ whims rather than their own internal directional focus. If someone was in a past relationship where they had let go of some of the important parts of themselves, this phase of recentering and reorienting is likely a critical first step before dating again.

Icarus Yang/Unsplash
Source: Icarus Yang/Unsplash

Climbing a Staircase

By processing more of the details of what worked and didn’t work in the last relationship, we are providing ourselves with an inoculation of sorts against potentially repeating negative patterns. Whether the separation was due to mutual agreement, a lack of fit, or a distressing breach of trust, there is almost always something to learn for future application. Engaging in some consideration of strengths and weaknesses can be useful, aiming for productive processing (learning and looking forward) vs. unproductive processing (ruminating and staying stuck). With each new relationship, we are ideally climbing a step or two up in terms of the type of partner, the style of relating, methods of communicating, or the strength of the link. Some relationships might be more of a horizontal move on the same step, but sometimes aiming to make more of a vertical move up in some aspect can lead to more satisfying connections in the long term.

Sandra Wartski
Source: Sandra Wartski

A Pie Chart

Every individual has interests, motivations, and priorities that make up their style, personality, and quality-of-life focus. Knowing more about our own and a potential future partner’s pie chart can be essential in figuring out more about whether or not a relationship is sustainable. Opposites can sometimes attract, but significant differences in some of the significant pie chart domains can lead to complications. A homebody individual matched with a spontaneous traveler might find there are some major disparities in how they want to spend their time. Conversations around interests, hobbies, intimacy preferences, spending habits, communication styles, and family connection all matter. We don’t need to be completely aligned on all items, but being aware of what may or may not be in sync is essential.

Tyana Janoch/Pixabay
Source: Tyana Janoch/Pixabay

The Tennis Match

For a relationship to be healthy and satisfying, there needs to be some level of equality in the process of sharing, listening, boundaries, support, accountability, respect, and responsibility. Like watching a tennis game where the ball travels back and forth between the players, a relationship should similarly have an overall sense of balance and shared commitment. There is hopefully a level of comfort in a relationship where there can be safety in the exchange of ideas, and there is also ideally a solid level of trust that allows for the interchange of honest requests. There are naturally exceptions at times (“I’m sorry that I am so tired tonight that I can’t concentrate on the story you are telling me”) and also value in some divide-and-conquer sharing of tasks (“I will make dinner if you wash the dishes”), but the overall average of balance is fundamental. If one partner is doing significantly more or less in a primary area of the relationship on a consistent basis, this is a potential red flag of an unequal or lopsided relationship. Addressing this directly can sometimes lead to repair, but avoiding or ignoring inequities will likely lead to resentment, distance, and disgruntlement.

Source: Tejasp/Pixabay

Love Is Like Wi-Fi

There are various opinions about whether humans can truly have love at first sight or know immediately if they have met the partner of their dreams, but generally there is agreement that the knowledge about a partnership being right for you (at least for right now) does build over time. Like being in a location with good Wi-Fi, the radio signals may be invisible but logging on with your phone or computer lets you know if you are connected to the internet. Love, deep caring, and authentic relational bonding may also be invisible but there are signals letting you know when it’s there or not. Tuning in mindfully to the patterns, perceptions, and inner wisdom is key.

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