After the Love has Gone
The freshness of a new relationship is exciting. We are biologically designed to be attracted to partners. A new romance infuses our system with “feel good” chemicals. Unfortunately, this temporary rush of excitement from a new romance is used by many to dull the pain of a struggling older relationship. Pain has its purposes; it’s not a nasty feeling which randomly invades our lives that should be avoided. It’s a physical response to stimuli we perceive as threatening to our survival and well-being. Scientific studies tell us what we already know intuitively: relationships are good for us. An intimate partner can provide much needed support and care. A close relationship adds to both financial, time and emotional resources. When we lose trust in our partner’s ability to assist us in life, there is a great sense of loss, fear, anger, and sadness.
Most have experienced the painful emotions that accompany the loss of trust in a relationship. The painful emotions may be the beginning of the end or the beginning of new effort to change the trajectory of the relationship and make it whole again. When a relationship begins to create painful feelings alternative partners appear as an escape. Whether the former relationship’s commitment has been formerly terminated or not, a new romance is usually not in our best interest. Grieving the loss by feeling the accompany emotions is essential to the healing process. It allows for gentle explorations of the past relationship. A failed relationship is an excellent school master if we take time to ruminate over it. Many insights and be gleamed from reflection as the emotional ashes of the breakup begin to settle. If we can compassionately consider these new insights, we may learn priceless information about our own character traits and behaviors which contributed to the failed relationship. Unless we recognize our role, we will never be able to eliminate those behaviors in the future.
Running from the pain of a crumbling relationship to the excitement of new romance washes away much of the pain but usually the relief is just a postponement of the pain rather than a cure. Do we quickly jump from one relationship after another? This pattern illuminates character flaws that can prevent us from ever experiencing true intimacy. Intimate relationships require the ability to process painful emotions. Avoiding painful emotions may significantly contribute to the failure of the relationship. Sharing feelings with a partner can be discomforting. Did we avoid openness during the relationship to avoid the pain? Maybe excusing red flags from our partner’s behavior may have also saved us from powerful emotions. Discussing red flags is not a subject to be taken lightly. I made the mistake in a young relationship to respond to a certain behavior, “That is kind of a red flag, isn’t it?” The conversation was effectively over after that thoughtless comment. If we can’t effectively deal with emotions than relationships are likely to struggle because they magnify the feelings.
After a relationship has ended by immediately refocusing our attention to a new “soul mate,” we miss the opportunity to process the normal emotions of an ending. It is unpleasant to recognize our own character flaws that contributed to the failed relationship. But by recognizing insecurities, self-hatred, unreasonable expectations, and poor relationship skills we can address improve the chances of a successful relationship in the future. The pain of ignoring personal insights can be costly.
The sparkle of the new relationship will eventually fade. We will be faced with processing the difficult emotions again. The feelings of the new relationship slowly begin to resemble our familiar disappointments. Our unhealed pain from the past is unearthed and magnifies the pain. Our fear of being alone multiplied. Once again life provides us with pain to process—a lesson to be learned. We can grieve, process, and grow or choose to avoid, suppress and stagnate.
There are many moments in life to be cherished. New relationships in the right time can bring us much joy. But so can mature relationships that nurture trust and develop intimacy. Treasure those moments of joy. There are also times when sorrow is the appropriate emotion. It is how we grieve a loss. It is through sorrow we learn wisdom. ~Troy Murphy