Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Too Soon?

Have you ever wondered after a break-up, 'How soon is too soon to start dating again...?'

It's an interesting question and usually warrants a million more questions. Some like to stick to some formula that makes them sleep better at night. Something along the lines of 'double the amount of time that you dated, and then you should be ready'....or, maybe it's the opposite: 'take half of the time that you were dating and you should be good to go!'

I've never been one for any sort of specific time frame though. Who am I to tell that person who just got out a long, serious relationship that they shouldn't be dating someone else a few weeks later? What do I know? How many times have I been wrong and watched the most unlikely couples make it, even if they seemed spawned out of a rebound of a situation? A lot, is the answer.

A friend asked me recently if I felt like I was ready to date again, and if I was, how long I had felt that way. Their answer was quite different than mine, as the three year relationship that ended two years ago was still keeping them from really wanting to pursue other relationships. It reminded me that people are people...which means that we're all uniquely wired and our experiences are incredibly different.

While I felt like my break ups had pushed me into a greater understanding of who I am, who the Lord is, and what type of person I should probably be with (which allowed me to feel pretty ready for whatever was next somewhat quickly), there are other instances where relationships inspire and give life to the point where you can't imagine anyone else ever doing the same. Those break ups take more time to recover from. The type of break ups where hearts are broken, where hope is lost and you truly can't imagine life without the other person.

The thing about setting up some sort of time frame for when you should be over someone is this: rarely does anything happen when you want it to...especially matters of the heart. How devastating is it when you reach that point in time when you decided you would be over that person and realize that you actually aren't? What types of emotions set it in? Suddenly the wound has room to grow, and the pain becomes intensely searing again as lies tumble in, reminding you of how big of a loser you are for not yet being over the guy who dumped you for another girl. Or, what if you've established a time frame and the guy/girl you've been hoping for suddenly enters into the equation before you're 'ready'? Shoot... better wait, eh?

Sometimes we just want to be done with the pain that accompanies the break up, so we try to rush through it quickly. I know for me, there's an element of, 'I've done break-ups before'....so I kind of feel like I know what steps I need to take in order to 'get over someone'. I'm familiar with the pain and so I try to get through that as fast as I can so I can get onto whatever's next.

It's not so easy.
Because even though I can think I'm over someone, sometimes I don't realize how not ready I am to date again until I'm confronted with the possibility of what dating someone else could look like. I wrote the following once when 'moving on' became a reality:

I want healing.
I want to trust again. 
But, I feel broken. 
There's a part of me that thinks that if I just write enough, if I process enough, that I can figure it out...that I can fix myself. There's a part of me that thinks that if I just run away from it all, that it won't come back to haunt me again.
But it does. 
In the quiet places, in the secret rooms of my heart...a storm is brewing. It makes me second-guess people, it makes me assume the worst, it causes me to believe that there is no one good and it is better for me to be alone. 
Open my heart again? 
Open my heart up to someone who isn't the screaming version of perfection that I desire...again? It didn't work last time--why would it work this time? Would I even want it to? 

There's not a 'set time' for when it's 'too soon' to start dating again...but, I think it's vital for us to have an awareness of what we are bringing with us into our next relationship. It's vital for us to know our wounds and our hurts and to have an understanding of how that might affect the way that we communicate with, relate to and trust our next significant other.

I think we kind of know when we're moving on too quickly, when we're moving on to fill the void, when we're moving on to replace the pain with someone who makes us feel wanted and worthy again. Be willing to avoid the temptation of the rebound, to avoid rushing into something because it feels easier to be with someone than to be alone... but don't be scared of entering into a good relationship because it's 'too soon' according to some time frame you've created for yourself (or you feel like others have placed on you).

In the end, we're all messy people bringing in lots of baggage into relationships (even if you've never dated before....sometimes the fact that you've haven't dated causes you to bring in a whole new type of baggage). I think it's only by the grace of God that relationships even have a chance of success...

Just be smart. Know yourself. Pray a lot. Seek wise council.
There's not a right answer to this one.
Sometimes the healing just takes time...and sometimes there's a new person just waiting for you to get out of that relationship and you should seize the opportunity, knowing that healing will come as you journey into a new relationship with them. It's all crazy and all over the place... but there's no formula for it.

You know if it's too soon.
You also know if you're just scared and running from good things and using the 'too soon' as an excuse.

Be honest with yourself.
Your actions don't just affect you anymore...

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