Love, Heartbreak

3 Ways To Tell If You're Ready For Love—Or Should Get A Dog Instead

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This issue can be a sore subject. Everyone wants to think they're ready for a relationship and can count on companionship for the long haul. 

But is that really true? How many of us are actually ready to start dating again after we break up with our ex, lose a spouse to divorce, or worse yet, lose our lifetime companion to death?

I had to re-enter the dating world once again after 16 years of marriage.

I remember my first formal relationship after divorce. I had been with the same man for 16 years. It was a devastating break-up that turned me inside out.

But, as divine forces willed it, I was up and ready to face the world soon enough. Or at least I thought so. In my book A Girl's Guide to Greatness I share a story that parallels my experience.

It's hard to know when or if you're ready to deeply connect with another person.

If you're not sure if you're ready, here are some great tips to help you determine whether you're ready for love, or need to get a dog.

1. Are you moving on from a companion passing away? 

A lot depends on how your last relationship ended. Did your lifetime spouse/companion pass away? This is a deeply involved issue. Were you expecting it? Was it a slow illness that consumed them? Or was it a sudden thing like an accident or heart attack? 

When we see things coming a part of us starts to grieve, to mourn even. As horrible as this situation is, that grieving does help us slowly accept the inevitable. However, sudden loss is a terrible experience.

We must allow ourselves to grieve, to mourn the loss. We must find ourselves in a place that feels as though we carry that person with us, and they too want us to move on.

Getting to that place might take six months, or might take two years. We shouldn't rush it, and we should not, out of that incredible painful loneliness, get someone else involved in our grief. It wouldn't be the right thing to do to them, nor the healthy thing to do for ourselves. 

This holds true even for those that leave a long-term relationship. The loneliness, the redefining ourselves as a one, and not a couple, takes a while. Divorcees go through grief and mourning also.

2. Did your relationship end with both partners on the same page?

Did your relationship end by mutual agreement? It's common for us not to want to see ourselves in the mirror.

Many clients I've spoken with over the years start out telling me how bad the relationship was, and after a few weeks of counseling, they find that they too lacked in many areas, and didn't stop to note the red flags, or weren't willing to work on themselves to save the relationship

Our pride can take a hold of us when we are angry and resentful that our partner is either thinking about leaving, seeing someone else, or just pointing out our faults. After a break-up, before we date again, we must ask ourselves if we have taken the time to do some introspection.

Have we looked at our weak areas? How can we improve so that our next relationship will be healthier? It isn't just about finding a warm body and someone to share a meal with, but a relationship that will bring you long term joy. We owe it to ourselves to be fully ready for the next special person in our lives.

3. Do you know what you really want?

Have you decided what you want? Yes, there are those of you out there that aren't worried about Mr. or Ms. Right, just Mr. or Ms. Right Now. But, don't cheat yourself out of happiness. 

Studies show that human beings are happier as a couple. Married people do have higher ratios of long-term happiness. Even with the divorce rate as high as it is, we seem to work much better, and live healthier, when we are in a long term relationship.

Therefore, find a way to define what is important to you. You can write a list, visualize a person or a situation until you have a perfect mental image of what you want your life and lifetime mate to be. 

In my book, I write out a meditative visualization to help the readers create a ritualistic practice to help them along their path. You can do this by seeing a professional therapist, or even a matchmaker, or clergyman.  

However, you must find the time to define your goals for your next relationship. It might be loads of fun to go home with that gorgeous redhead, or that hunk you met tonight, but that is something for the moment, and your needs extend out much further. You want happiness that will last, not just for last night.

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