Healing while Dating

I was in an off-on again relationship for three years, and the ties were only completely severed seven months ago. During the off-periods, I would turn to dating apps and try to distract myself from thoughts of my ex. As I’m sure you can imagine, it would never go well, and I always found myself crying as soon as it was over and I was home.

At the beginning of May, I felt ready to try again. I had not spoken to my ex in five months, and desired to find someone new. I rejoined all the dating apps, and went on quite a few social distanced walk dates around my local park.

I connected with someone pretty early on, and we have been seeing each other since. The experience has been entirely new for me, and I’ve been learning new things each day.

I have been fortunate thus far in the fact that whenever I began dating again after a breakup, I was always fully ready to date again and could allow myself to be fully focused on the other person. This time in my life, however, is quite different. Although I have healed a good bit, I still have more healing to do. I keep reminding myself that there is no timeline or deadline on healing.

After two months of seeing each other around once a week, he asked me to be his girlfriend. I immediately panicked. I did not feel ready to commit to him fully, but also wanted to keep seeing him. I took some time and gently told him that I was not ready to be in a serious relationship, and it would not be fair to him if I did agree, as I do not believe I would be a supportive and stable girlfriend to have at this point in my life.

He did not take it well, and expressed confusion in my decision. I took this moment to open up about my past abuse with my ex, and explained that I was still in the beginning of my healing journey. He is working on understanding this, especially since he has not experienced a breakup before, or had a romantic relationship in the past. We agreed to continue seeing each other, and be open and honest about how we are feeling.

I have had to show myself an incredible amount of self-love while I am entering back into the dating world during active healing. This includes being easy on myself during this time, and not being frustrated whenever I am having negative feelings or thinking about my ex.

If you are healing from an ex, it is totally normal to think about them when you are with others. If you are constantly thinking about them, it is probably not time to date others yet. But if they pop up in your head from time to time, that is okay and normal to the healing process. This happens to me especially in moments of intimacy, which is something I discuss in therapy often.

Every day is a learning process, and I know that one day I will be ready to be in a relationship with someone else, no matter how long it takes to heal.

Have you ever been in relationships (whether romantic or platonic) that have affected your other ones? Have you ever opened up to someone you’re dating or are close friends with about hurt you’ve felt from others in the past?

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