by Teresa Yanaros, January 4, 2021
Getting back into the dating scene after leaving an abuser can feel kind of like attempting to tread water during a storm.
Luckily, you are not alone. I've gone through this as well, and have learned a ton along the way.
These 11 things will help stabilize you during this new season of your life.
1 - Getting informed about abuse prevents you from repeating unhealthy cycles.
Research the type of abuse you experienced and learn the red flags. Learn the lexicon and vocabulary that the experts use in conjunction with the particular type of abuse you experienced.
Reflect upon what you've been through. When you seek information from seasoned professionals to learn about what happened from a third-party perspective, it helps you understand the nuances of your circumstances. This is empowering because you start to better understand the past.
Gaining clarity over your past relationship will help you recognize red flags, and you can then exit toxic situations accordingly.
2 - Unlearning toxic thought loops and learning healthy patterns of thinking sets you on the right path toward building healthy relationships.
Seek professional counseling or take a life coaching course. Getting back on track can take time, and many times this is because you've acquired all kinds of unhealthy habits you'll need to get rid of and process through before being ready to date again.
The first thing is learning about what unhealthy or limiting thoughts you've learned to tell yourself over and over because a toxic person put you down consistently. Over time, this begins to form a new personality inside you that is not you! You'll need to become aware of those false thought patterns and stop them in their tracks.
Then you need to look deep within and ask yourself who you truly are. Letting go of the lies and breaking those chains this person had over your mind encourages you to start feeling like you again. Professional counselors and courses can help you identify limiting thoughts and then help you rewrite your story in a way that is healthy for you. This is the first step toward repairing your heart so you can start to see others clearly again. It starts with being able to clearly see yourself.
3 - Forgiving yourself and the person who abused you initiates the healing process.
Forgiveness is a bridge from pain to healing. Once you start to understand the past, you can move into a space of letting go of what transpired.
Forgiving yourself and others will help you see that there's a future for you. You don't have to be trapped inside horrible feelings of pain, fear, and anger. All of that had a time and a season, but that season was temporary. There is a new season ahead of you. Forgiveness is the bridge that gets you there.
4 - Understanding what triggers you will help you figure out how to deal with it.
After you've been in an abusive situation, you've grown accustomed to certain toxic patterns, and your body will have spontaneous reactions to certain words and environments. This can cause you to have complex post-traumatic responses.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional psychologist and nothing I am saying here is professional medical advice. Please seek professional services for diagnosis and support.
It's super important to become aware of what triggers you, so you can govern yourself accordingly.
Once you realize you have a certain trigger, set a procedure in place so that when it happens, you are aware of it, and you're able to pull yourself out of the emotional state into the logical processing state. it will help you handle these moments. Become verbal about when you are having PTSD responses or going into dissociative states. Saying out loud what is happening helps you gain control over the situation and clue the other person into what's happening.
5 - Becoming independent and seeking an independent person decreases codependency risk.
Both parties need to be 100 percent independent to decrease the risk of co-dependency issues.
People need to stand on their own two feet independently before they can commit to a serious relationship.
The truth is, lines get blurred and boundaries sacrificed when someone depends on you for basic human needs. This leads to unhealthy co-dependent environments. You need to be able to easily exit a relationship. In the beginning, you're still learning who this person is. If you move in together or mix finances, these situations can create messes if the person suddenly demonstrates toxic behavior. Entangling your life with a person early on in the relationship will make it more difficult for you to disentangle yourself from this person in the event that you realize you need to get out.
6 - Releasing your expectations of what you think something is supposed to be will bring you peace within the moment.
Don't get caught up in what you want this relationship to be. Just let it be what it is. Time your time. Breathe. And just try to have fun and trust the process.
When you release your expectations, you decrease the possibility of bad feelings surging up, reigniting trauma from the past. If you are struggling with abandonment issues, having strong expectations of what you think something is can cause plaguing feelings of fear and create unhealthy thought loops. Just be. Enjoy. Detach from the need to know the outcome.
7 - Just because you were abused in the past doesn't mean that you're projecting about abuse in the present.
Because you have become used to toxic patterns of behavior, it might take you some time to stop placing yourself in toxic environments. In the event that you find yourself dating another abusive person, you are going to go through a process of recognizing and then speaking out against toxic behavior while it is happening.
Some abusive people will state that you are only seeing their behavior as abusive because you are projecting what you went through in the past. They will try to persuade you to think that their bad behavior isn't bad behavior and that you're only perceiving it as such because you are damaged and incorrect in what you are seeing. This is an attempt to gaslight you into thinking that you are incorrectly assessing the situation, and quite literally an abusive tactic to manipulate you into accepting their toxic behavior.
Oftentimes, if you have a habit of dating abusive people, you'll have to learn the signs of abuse and get out of the relationship. if someone refuses to take responsibility for their actions and instead places the blame onto you, this is toxic. Get out.
Honestly, it will probably take a few tries to stop going after the same toxic traits. it will take time to realize the unhealthy behaviors and consistently learning to set new boundaries until you start choosing people who are actually good for you. Your idea of what a relationship should be is likely warped in some way. It takes time to correct this.
8 - Don't assume you know what someone is going to say.
Jumping to conclusions about what someone will say is a defense mechanism some people use against possible abusive behavior. Hypervigilance is a trait that occurs in people who were abused. They are always on the lookout for abuse and will therefore sometimes preemptively attack as a means to protect themselves from potential abuse.
This is why it is super important to suspend judgment when you get back into the dating scene. Go into a situation with an open mind and heart. Receive what is happening. Allow convers