There is a challenge with online dating, and dating in general. By this point, most people have suffered some significant form of heartache and heartbreak. Sometimes we've been broken up with when we thought marriage was coming. Sometimes we had to break up with or divorce the other person because our expectations weren't met. Other times, unions of two particular people are toxic, including cycles of arguments, verbal abuse, and other emotional trauma. Infidelity ("cheating") emotionally and/or physically has terminated many relationships. And worse of all, some relationships include forms of sexual or physical abuse.
After breaking up with some combination of these hurtful past experiences, it can be very difficult to open ourselves up again emotionally and physically. We often still carry around our hurts and disappointments from the past. Naturally resulting from these pains are the defensive walls and barriers we put up to protect ourselves from more trauma, hurt, and heartache. Even though that is natural and understandable, it also makes us "emotionally unavailable": so closed and self protective that the new dating partner won't be able to break through. Even worse, a traumatized individual will often sabotage an otherwise healthy, promising relationship out of fear of getting too close emotionally and suffering heartache again. In short, when you have too much emotional damage and pain from the past to open yourself up fully to a new relationship, you won't be able to truly and fully connect and give a new relationship a chance for success. In short, you cannot connect and self protect at the same time.
Before dating again--online or otherwise--you need to lessen your old emotional pains, let go, and forgive enough to be emotionally vulnerable and available for someone new. Simple, but not easy. Here are a few ideas to help you work let go of your past relationship pains:
1) Get some help in counseling with a qualified, licensed psychotherapist. Finding a therapist that is LDS (or at least understands the LDS lifestyle and is respectful of LDS morals and values) is helpful. Go with the primary goal of letting go and forgiving your relational scars. Let your therapist know this is your goal and that you want to ready yourself for dating success.
2) Read and learn about healing and letting go through some quality self help books, magazines or other online sources. A few good resources include The PTSD Workbook by Williams and Poijula, How to Break an Addiction to a Person by Halpern, Letting Go by Wilder, or Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse by Gregory and Jantz. I would suggest to look up the descriptions and reviews of these and other related books on amazon.com, and then choose and review the book or books that seem to best relate to and connect with your circumstances and personality. Another option: choose and read appropriate article titles from www.psychologytoday.com and lds.org.
3) Meet with your bishop for spiritual guidance, support and direction to forgive and let go. He will direct you to scriptures, prayer, and other ideas and support to release your emotion pain spiritually, which will naturally also produce psychological and emotional relief. As a preview to this guidance and the support you will receive, I remind you of the famous scripture from Matthew 11:28-30: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
4) Choose to let go. Make a decision now to work to let go of any and all past relational wounds, hurts, regrets, remorse, scars, and other pains. A simple, regular therapeutic exercise you can do to bring you closer to this place of forgiveness is below. Simply fill in the blanks with this forgiveness/letting go outline every day until you feel the peace you desire. After filling in the blanks, complete the exercise each day by saying it out loud, dropping stating the 4 painful feelings from the exercise (A-D) as you feel inner relief and peace until none are left.
A) I feel angry because__________.
B) I feel sad because__________.
C) I feel worried because__________.
D) I feel guilty because__________.
E) Nevertheless, I choose to forgive and let go of all of the pain from __________NOW.
F) Because I want and need__________.
G) I understand__________.
H) So therefore I choose to forgive and let go NOW, and I choose from here on out to__________.
Whatever your pains and scars, you can work to let go and forgive. You can eventually make yourself emotionally available again to date and marry. You can do it because "…if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him (or her) that believeth". (Mark 9:23). And, I'll add, all things are possible for those who go through the process to let go with the several ideas above. Because "…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).
|2016-03-14||Randy Gilchrist||Dating, Healthy relationships, Psychological health|
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to email@example.com. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to firstname.lastname@example.org).