THERE’S AN UNWRITTEN RULE OF RELATIONSHIP WISDOM that dictates that people who suffer relationship breakdowns should spend a period of time—notionally one year in every four of the relationship—single as a way of dealing with the grief and baggage that comes from the fallout, and in that time reclaim any lost sense of personal identity which is inevitable with separation.
The obvious risk is that we “rebound.” So, what does that mean?
Even though we might feel attracted to (or even infatuated with) another person, we won’t truly be ready to give them all of us. Rebounding sees us enter a new relationship well before we’re ready—often with disastrous results for both people in the new relationship (us and them), any children who might be affected and other family and friends who too are implicated.
For the person who’s currently single—post relationship breakdown—grieving and lonely, this seems like an impossible task; to wait a year or two (or more) until we “re-launch” can feel ridiculous when we’ll often feel ‘over the old relationship already.’
The truth is we won’t be. We might feel okay but our identities have been fractured and we need time to re-form our identity and to grieve appropriately; a fresh “today” version of our identity needs to be constructed around the new reality we find ourselves in. This is a manual day-by-day process with no shortcuts.
In this situation, we all should resist the urge to think or act on new relationship opportunities of a non-platonic kind or with the opposite sex. The reality is we need to feel like we don’t need another person to complete us. People who resolve they need a relationship for what the other person can give them are getting into a relationship for the wrong reason.
There is actually nothing wrong with being single for a period of time—this usually won’t last forever, though it’s a huge test of faith—one we’re more than good enough for.
After a breakup we need time. It’s best to simply accept what’s in front of us if we’re in this position. It’s the wisest thing to do. Rebounding is often the quickest way to a hardship of the soul.
Now, the promise: how to do the impossible (stay single for a period), really well...
Focusing on a vision of hope for the future and doing that with intent and deliberately focussing on it every day, we train ourselves into holding out for the appropriate day to re-launch. We also enter into a relationship with God; he becomes our partner during this time. We walk with him and we talk with him. We take him to bed with us. We focus on preparing for our second (or seventh or thirty-seventh) virginity—the one to come. We focus on becoming ourselves.
It’s not a popular way but it works.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.