Dating after leaving an abusive relationship is hard. The emotions that come with being a domestic violence survivor can be overwhelming. The thought of trying to open up to someone knew can be terrifying. The whole experience can be anxiety inducing.
Everyone’s healing process is different. Some domestic violence survivors might feel ready to attempt dating faster than others. Some may feel like they’ll never be ready to date again. Know that whichever way you’re feeling is perfectly acceptable. There’s no required length of time that you need to heal before getting back into the dating scene. It’s all about your comfort level.
Moving On After Domestic Violence
When you do decide you’re ready to try dating again, be aware that it might be harder than you expected. Even if you feel ready, actually going on a date may stir up some emotions you weren’t expecting. Just be aware of how you’re feeling and make sure that you’re truly comfortable.
It May Be Hard To Open Up
One thing that a lot of survivors have in common is finding it difficult to open up or trust another person again. While this is entirely understandable and makes perfect sense, you’re new partner might not understand why you’re being distant. This can be especially true if you haven’t decided to share the details of your previous relationship yet.
You are absolutely not required to disclose the intimate details of your past with a new partner. Again, the decision to do so shouldn’t be taken lightly and is completely personal. Just be aware that your partner may innocently mistake your distance for disinterest. Remember that you don’t have to share, but you also can’t expect them to understand what they don’t know about.
Your New Partner Isn’t Your Old Partner
You may want to make this a mantra. Say it over and over a few times to drive it into your head. Your new partner is not your old partner. They are not the same person. They don’t think the same way. Their intentions are not the same.
When you’ve been victimized, especially for a long time, it’s hard to break the mental habits that you’ve formed. This isn’t easy. But in order to be fair to your new partner, you need to give them a chance to prove to you that they are different.
This means you can’t expect your new partner to react exactly the same way to a situation or conversation that your old partner would have. Don’t assume they’re thinking the same things. Give them a chance to be different, for both your sakes!
On a side note, don’t ignore your gut feelings or warning signs just because you’re trying to give your new partner the benefit of the doubt. If something truly feels off to you, consider ending the new relationship before things go to far. The last thing you want to do is ignore your gut and end up in a second abusive relationship. Unfortunately, this does happen!
Don’t Expect Your New Partner To Fix You
Being in a new relationship will not automatically heal the pain, heartache and trauma that you experienced in your abusive relationship. While having a healthy, loving relationship may aid in the healing process, a relationship shouldn’t be used as a Band-aid.
Hopefully your new partner is supportive of your healing process, but it isn’t their job to fix you. That just isn’t possible and you shouldn’t expect it from them.
Don’t Neglect Your New Partner
It can be easy to get wrapped up in dealing with your healing process and overcoming the demons from your past. Remember that if you’ve made the decision to start dating again, you’ve decided that you’re emotionally ready to support another person. Support isn’t one sided. You need to make sure that you’re paying attention to your partners needs and supporting him or her, too.
Your partner’s struggle with a difficult boss or argument with their sibling may not seem comparable to your trauma, but they deserve your support just as much as you deserve theirs.
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