Coming out of a toxic relationship can be difficult in and of itself. Often, it requires an emotional detox.
Even though the relationship is clearly over, you may find that you still have issues to work through. You might be experiencing not only sadness and loss but also pain and anxiety. If you reached that point after a tremendous betrayal or experiencing a chronic problem too big to surmount, you probably have many questions and concerns about how you got into that situation in the first place, and how someone you loved could treat you so poorly.
Sandra Bullock had a public breakup with her ex-husband, Jesse James, who admittedly cheated on her multiple times. Despite that, Bullock has finally found love again with a person whom she calls “the one,” Bryan Randall, and the couple reportedly couldn’t be happier.
How, when you finally do find yourself on the other side and are ready to think about dating again, can you trust another person as well as your own judgement as you, like Sandra, move past the bad and attempt to find the good? How can you make sure you don’t allow yourself to fall into a toxic relationship again?
One thing to keep in mind is that it is natural to be more guarded and question everything when you begin something new after what you have been through. And that is a good thing.
Take time to get to know someone who has caught your eye. Even if the connection feels comfortable right away, and you experience the temptation to slip into an immediate closeness of constant texting, talking, and even spending the night together, try to resist that at first. Remain your “me” for as long as you can before you jump into being a “we,” so you don’t shoot past any warning signals.
Take inventory: Does the person call when they say they will? Do they keep the plans you have made? Do they generally seem to be telling you the truth about things, or have you caught them in any lies?
Do they have friends, or do they appear to have many past relationships – friendly and romantic – that have ended with all ties cut? Take the time you need to read all the road signs, so to speak, and to stop at all the caution lights so you can get a sense of what’s coming down the road. Give yourself a chance to learn who the person really is, instead of making excuses when necessary and allowing them to form in your mind as who you hope they will be.
Along the same lines, be highly selective about who you might let in; let them show you they are worthy of your love. Sit back a little, possibly more than you usually do, and instead of being an open book and freely sharing your past and your hopes for the future, let them take the lead and reveal those things first. That way, you will have a better sense of what you are getting into before you open yourself up to them.
By evaluating your new potential love interest and deciding how much you want to share with them, and taking seriously any red flags that might come up, you are working to head off future betrayals and strengthen your own self-confidence. It will also give you more control.
The goal is to find someone you can believe in, who has your best interests in mind, and who ultimately will not stomp on your heart. Proceed with this expectation—that this is what you deserve and what you will get, and this will help give you more clarity and insight as you begin to date. If you feel secure in yourself, you are much more likely to find someone who will support you rather than undermine you.
Moving on after a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it is possible. The experience, however terrible it might have been, can be a lesson to learn from. Once you can stop thinking of yourself as in a recovery process, and more in a moving beyond process, taking with you all that you have learned, you can be stronger and better placed to have a healthier relationship than ever before.