Dear Dr. Romance
Your articles are very helpful to me. Can you tell me what book of yours can help me heal from my last relationship. The pain is still there and although I am sure I had to let go, I still care a lot.
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I'm sorry you're hurting. I know how difficult it can be, even when you were the one who had to let go. The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again begins with a chapter about healing from the previous relationship. "Surviving Loss and Thriving Again". Don't worry, you can heal this, and these hints might help:
1. When you break up from a significant relationship, you'll go through the classic stages of grief:
Denial: maybe he'll call again, maybe she didn't really mean it… Or, staying way too long, because you don't want to face that the relationship isn't working.
Anger: If your ex breaks it off, you're going to be upset. Even if you're the one who broke it off, you'll be angry at the loss of your dreams. Sometimes, this anger is what it takes to leave the relationship.
Bargaining: For a dating breakup, I'd call this the rebound stage: I'll show him/her. I'll go find someone else right away. Men usually do this faster than women, but any relationship entered into in this stage usually has problems. In some cases, this is a stage of idealizing the ex.
Depression: Isolating, staying home, not trying anything new. This ends when the real tears start, because the tears are a sign of acceptance.
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Acceptance/Rebuilding: This is the stage of new energy, where you decide to do something different, from a new hair cut to building a whole new life. People often do well in therapy here -- figuring out what went wrong, and how not to repeat mistakes, and then find a new love.
2. Gender differences: Men deny their feelings, and go right out on the hunt again. It feels good for a while, but they wind up with bigger problems in the new relationship, because they weren't ready, and they got into it for the wrong reasons. To really feel better, they have to face their own responsibility in past relationships that didn't work, make changes, and begin having relationships on a brand-new basis. Women honor their feelings, sometimes even wallowing in them. However, when they emerge, they're usually stronger and more self-aware. If you get stuck in the wallowing phase, that's a good time to get therapy to reassess how you view yourself and what you want.