After the Love has Gone
Growing from the Pain
BY: Troy Murphy | March 2013
The freshness of a new relationship excites biological systems, releasing pleasurable chemicals into the blood. We are molded for attraction. Unfortunately, the temporary rush of excitement may be used to dull the pain of an older relationship dying from lack of attention. Pain has its purposes; it’s not a nasty feeling that randomly invades our lives. Pain is a physical response to stimuli perceived as threatening—threatening to our survival and well-being. Scientific studies conclude what we intuitively know: relationships are good for us. An intimate partner provides support and care. A close bond adds to financial, time and emotional resources. When we lose trust in our partner’s ability to assist, there’s a sense of loss, fear, anger, and sadness. We feel pain.
Most have experienced the painful emotions of losing of trust; trust in a partner, trust in the relationship. The frightful feelings initiate change; perhaps the beginning of the end or maybe the beginning of change, making the relationship whole again. When a relationship stirs painful feelings, an alternative partner may entice an escape. Relationship jumping is a dangerous game. Whether the current relationship has been formerly terminated or not, an immediate new romance often is not in our best interest. Grieving the loss is essential to the healing process. It allows for gentle explorations. A failed relationship is full of wisdom; an excellent school master when we take sufficient time to ruminate. Many insights may be gleamed from reflection after the emotional ashes settle. If we compassionately examine new insights, we learn priceless information about our own character and behaviors that contributed to the failed relationship. Unless we recognize our role, we will likely repeat it.
Running from a crumbling relationship into the arms of a new romance distracts but doesn’t heal. The pain is only temporarily postponed. Broken relationships do not disappear without leaving a psychological mark; but lost in the distraction of dominant new feelings we ignore the hurt and reject necessary healing. We can do this. Some live a lifetime avoiding painful self-discovery. But wounds compound, knocking us further off center, leading to instability and a string of broken relationships.
The relationship jumping pattern reveals deeper character flaws, suggesting a fearful approach to difficulties. Instead of working through problems, examining the self for contributions, the abandoning pattern suggests premature fleeing. A pattern preventing the richness of true intimacy that requires working through and resolving difficulties. Bonds create vulnerabilities. And vulnerabilities magnify emotional reactions. When committed, bound to another person, their actions have deeper meanings to our well-being. Our bodies respond to slights with more emotional force. Avoiding the pain also limits the connection. These limits may significantly contribute to relationship failure. Sharing feelings, examining fears, hopes and dreams overwhelms juvenile emotions. The emotional core is our essence; opening the tender portions of our soul to ridicule or rejection is an experiment in trust. True love is tested with these brave journeys of openness. Many are unwilling to risk this openness, fearing the interaction to be an invitation to hurt; not an avenue to connection. If we dodge emotional intimacy, our relationships will struggle, closeness will be riddled with anxiety because of the feelings closeness magnifies.
After a relationship ends immediate refocusing on someone else, we miss valuable opportunities for self-examination. The feelings are still raw and the causes still salient. We momentarily have visions of insights. But self-exploration is unpleasant, revealing personal flaws. But by recognizing insecurities, self-hatred, unreasonable expectations, and poor social skills we address and improve them. The growth increases the chances of a later successful relationship.
The sparkle of the newness fades, the challenges of a developing relationship return; should we flee again? Fueling the decay are the underlying anxieties, angers, frustrations that were never healed. Fears are multiplied; if you never worked through relationship problems then relationship problems loom larger reminding of past failures. Our fears multiply encouraging yet another run to a exciting unsoiled relationship to distract. We can grieve, process, and grow or choose to avoid, suppress and stagnate.
We can make a lifetime of escape. Some do. I prefer security.
New relationships bring excitement. Mature relationships flourish with trust and securely wrap us in the joys of connection—intimacy. Treasure the wonderful feelings—wherever they may come. But before jumping ship, or escaping to newness, slow down. Don’t postpone healing. Appropriately grieve the loss, integrate the lessons, and then move forward.