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4 Essential Steps to Take Before Your Next Relationship

3. Eliminate toxic relationships.

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
Source: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

People frequently self-sabotage their romantic relationships without any intention or awareness of doing so.

Here are four ways to be better prepared to accept love when it strikes:

1. Grieve.

People frequently self-sabotage new relationships because they have not let themselves fully grieve and let go of past ones. Keep at the top of your mind that a new relationship will not be healthy if you are using it to escape the emotional misery of a divorce or breakup. Allow yourself to fully mourn not only a recent disappointment, but also one that may be far in the past, but that still stings. And, too, it can be helpful to process other types of emotional losses before you enter new relationships. Consider what hurt you, or what you didn’t get in childhood, but deserved and needed. Acknowledge these experiences so as to become more self-aware of what you need going forward. Letting go will clear the path to finding the right match for yourself for the long term, not someone to temporarily build you back up or take you away from heartache.

2. Build self-esteem.

Recognize if you have spent your dating and coupling life outsourcing your self-esteem to relationships. If you have not worked on knowing yourself and feeling good about yourself, then you may be vulnerable to choosing your partners as a way to feel some sense of self-worth. This means you are entering your relationships from a disempowered position. This makes you vulnerable to being mistreated and hurt, which will only further fuel a self-esteem deficit. Take some time to work on strengthening yourself without the crutch of a romantic partner.

3. Eliminate toxic attachments.

Another way that people unintentionally sabotage their romantic happiness is by continuing to choose the same type of toxic partners, over and over again. Recognize your attachment history: What kinds of people are you drawn to, and what themes seem to present themselves in your romantic relationships? Are you drawn to people who bring out your best self, or your worst? When you date, consciously attach to healthy, kind, and emotionally attentive individuals, as opposed to withdrawn and inconsistently loving personalities.

4. Build intimacy skills.

Research suggests that we are drawn to people who have communication and intimacy skills matching our own. This means that if your skills are lacking in this arena, you likely will end up with a partner who is also at a deficit. Take time to build your communication and intimacy skills. Teach yourself to not only know your preferences and dislikes, but to directly communicate them to the people in your life. Learn how to be comfortable with being yourself. Know how to establish boundaries with people.

In my book, Getting Close to Others , I offer specific strategies around growing your intimacy skills for dating and partnering.