We’ve all wished for a chance to wipe the slate clean—a do-over for the heart. Dr. Hick offers a 5 Step Reset Plan to help us embrace love’s new beginnings.
No matter where you are in your relationship journey, hitting the reset button can offer an opportunity to reflect, set new goals, and pursue your quest from a new perspective.
Starting over is never easy. You likely feel confused, heart broken, frustrated, hurt, and/or perhaps defeated—defeated in your search for love.
While it feels as if you’ll never fully recover, and you’ve sworn that you’ll never, ever date again—especially not someone like him or her—you will get back on the proverbial dating horse, eventually. And when you do, with some intentional recovery and regrouping, you will proceed on your quest differently than you have before.
The Five Step Reset Plan
This is exactly the thing that you were hoping I would say, right? I know, I know, actually feeling the feelings—instead of avoiding, replacing, suppressing or numbing the feelings—does not feel good. It’s not meant to feel good; however, the painful, hurt, and confused feelings are good for you. Yes, you read that correctly, they are good for you.
Making this single mental shift can be one of the most empowering changes you can make in your dating quest. These not-so-feel-good feelings can teach you so much about yourself and your relationship, if you allow them to. They also help you move through the loss of the relationship.
Something you may not know is that the process of getting over a separation or break-up is similar to the mourning process when you’ve lost a loved one. While the severity and depth of feelings may feel different, the emotions are similar—moving back and forth through anger, denial, bargaining, shock, sadness, ambivalence, and acceptance (Kubler-Ross, 1969).
From my experience, if you do not feel the feelings associated with the loss of the relationship, you are likely to carry those feelings with you into the next relationship and then reenact them with your new special someone.
Remember that hobby you used to love and practiced so often? The painting class you’d get a speeding ticket trying to get to on time rather than miss? The ski days with friends that used to fill your weekend with relaxation and fun? Or how about the five-days-a-week workout routine that was your religion?
Nurturing yourself and your interests is typically the first thing to go when people get comfortable dating someone. Diving back into these activities—rather than swilling another glass of wine or sulking on your couch, isolated from the world—is one of the most vital steps to getting through the difficult period and getting back to some semblance of a normal rhythm in your life.
Once the you’ve felt and moved through the initial blunt force of feelings—in which you can reflect on the relationship with a clearer, less-biased mind—its time to reflect, honestly.
This is the time to think back on the relationship or dating experience in order to learn and grow from it. Yes, relationships—even the short and/or painful ones—are learning experiences. If you do not get to the point where you can glean some insight from it, you’re definitely in no shape to start a new one.
- What felt right or good about dating this person?
- What did not feel good about dating this person?
- What felt familiar to you? How did it feel familiar?
- What was new about this relationship as compared to past experiences?
- Were there red flags you ignored in the midst of passion, excitement, or intoxication (emotional or chemical)?
- Did it end in a familiar way?
- What did you learn about yourself from this relationship?
- What did you learn about him/her and about relationships?
Spending some quality time reflecting on these areas, honestly, will help you grow through this experience rather than allow it to beat you down.
4. Try Something New
Now that you have adequately reflected, which I encourage you to do as you proceed through this next step and future steps, you may be ready to try again. This time, might I challenge you to try a different way?
This may mean you take a different approach to dating and finding that special someone based on what you learned from your reflection. Maybe it’s a different outlook, a different “list” of qualities that you are looking for, or actually trying new places and activities to be open to finding love.
The best part about trying something new is it becomes less about, “Here I go again, back at the dating scene,” and more about, “Here’s a new opportunity to learn about myself, explore a new outlook on love, and to have some fun doing it.”
Now, doesn’t that sound a lot more appealing?
5. Enjoy Yourself
Look, dating is hard, especially if you’ve tried, tried and tried some more—it’s tough. But, focusing on the challenge, rather than the opportunity for meeting new people, trying new things, and further fine-tuning your dating radar will only make the process more grueling.
Intentionally practicing having fun, whether you are enjoying your new-found interests solo, attending a singles social event, or going on a jitter-inducing first date, will make pushing the love reset button a thousand times more enjoyable.
References: Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying. New York: Macmillan.