"I've been dating for a year now and I can't seem to connect; nothing sticks. What's wrong with me?" An attractive, accomplished, loving woman, it seemed there was nothing wrong with Celeste. But was there more to it I wondered?

And so I asked "Where are you meeting these men?"

Sitting closer to me, she explained "I had some introductions from friends, but no dice. I'm not a bar-type so I went on line. Actually I joined three sites. You'd think I'd find someone I want to be with."

"When you say ‘be with', what do you mean?" I asked.

Sure enough Celeste was not searching for the impossible as she told me. "I want a long-term relationship, a soul mate, a life-partner. You see, I don't want to be alone."

Smiling I commented, "Most of us don't want to be alone."

"Yeah, but as soon as they get close to me, I freeze. It doesn't make sense. I want so much to start over." Wincing, Celeste moved ever so slightly to the far end of the couch.

I then inquired "What goes through your mind when a man gets close to you?"

Sighing deeply with a dreamy look, she moved closer to me again. "I recall the heady feeling I had when I first fell in love with Chad. These other men pale next to the feelings I had with Chad."

"So you want the same magic with a new man." I interpreted.

And she agreed "Yes I suppose I do."

I continued to confront the issue as I explained "The feeling with a new man, however, can't be the same as with Chad. After all they're different people."

"Yes, of course, I know that. But I still think of Chad when I'm with another man or when I'm alone and feeling lonely." Folding her hands on her lap, a little girl look crossed her face.

I continued to interpret with, "The problem is that you have not separated psychically from Chad. The first secret to starting over is to separate emotionally from Chad."

And so it is with all of us starting over. Before you can embark on a new trajectory ─ of finding a fresh love ─ you must fist clear the way. In my experience, clearing the way means removing one of the largest stumbling blocks ─ that of your old love.

Physical separation whether due to death, divorce, or calling it quits in a relationship is not the same as the tough task of emotional separation. Difficult as emotional separation is, we are constantly making heart rending separations from womb to tomb. And that is because there is something about the indomitable human spirit that keeps us going. No matter the pain of loss, born to bond, we have in innate need to love again.

Here's how.

• Think of the separation ─ even if your partner is still alive ─as a death. Take time to mourn the death of the relationship as you would mourn the loss of any loved person.
• Most religions commemorate the death with a prescribed time of grieving. But as we are all unique, each of us must mourn according to their own time table. Some people are able to mourn a loved one for six months whereas others mourn for six years or more.
• Let the feelings bubble up and stay with them. Whether sadness, rage, disappointment, loneliness each of us experiences loss in our own way.
• Get back into life. If most of your old friends are in a close relationship with a partner, find new single friends. Online the site www.meetup.com features singles groups with whom you can share activities, events, experiences.
• Engage in satisfying pursuits, whether it is work related or friendships, book clubs, the arts, or volunteer work to fill your life with meaningful fun experiences.
• When you feel ready ─that you enjoy your own company as well as those of others ─ you can begin to date. Online dating is a good bet and there are several sites with many single people that could interest you.
• Open your mind to new experiences. If your partner was an intellectual professor type, a casual earthy person may be just the ticket. Or if your partner liked motor cycle riding, open your mind to someone who likes concerts in the park. How about a tattoo covered sexy person with a broad smile that is so different from your traditional corporate partner? All of this is surface stuff.
• At a deeper level, chemistry, shared values, shared goals, and emotional availability are some of what soul mates are made of.
Each of us experience letting go and moving on to a new love in our unique way. Some of us hate dating, some of us love the excitement, and others accept the inevitability of endings and new beginnings. In whatever way you go about starting over, I wish you rainbows.

Email: drpraver@cs.com

Web : www.drfranpraver.com

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About the Author

Frances Cohen Praver, Ph.D.

Frances Cohen Praver, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and relational psychoanalyst and author.

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