Advice on learning to love again

Story by Cythacha Lelondo, CNN • Updated 15th September 2018

Editor’s Note — This article was originally published on August 17, 2017.

He was 25 years old, struggling with feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. We met.

He asked me to join him in his gritty, working-class neighborhood in Atlanta for a weekend. We went to the movies, shared food and planned a trip to his mom’s house. But something, something, was off.

We dated two months, then broke up.

That’s when I realized there were few moments in my life when I felt completely happy. During that time I survived cancer, my mother’s death, a job in crisis and a two-month hiatus from my original job. I struggled to accept the tiniest change.

There was no sudden awfulness in that relationship. We had no quarrels. No one cried. He missed his family. I missed him, too. But we were so different, that we needed to part ways.

After the split, I didn’t try to date again. I didn’t try to make friends, to get back out there. I realized that some doors remain permanently closed.

I discovered this fascinating and painful truth during several well-intentioned sessions with a life coach friend. The notion of truly moving forward in relationships shocked me. I’d never contemplated making a vow to break someone else’s heart. I figured I could never really care about someone again if I made them suffer. I’m too tough. Too selfish.

Learning That You Can Love Again and For The Rest Of Your Life

Every relationship leaves its mark. Every marriage, every divorce, every bad breakup. Your life story is a sort of diary. Writing it for the past 10 years, I’d record a bit of my journey.

In The Rest Of Your Life, SABOTAGE, co-authored by me and Sari Delaney, explores the concept of “being fixated,” or obsessing on relationship failures. Being fixated can keep us from living and loving for the rest of our lives.

Solving this problem requires a leap of faith. This book helps you confront past injustices, failures and abandonment, as well as challenging truths. It can help you move forward into a new and better relationship.

Saying Goodbye to That Bad Relationship

In trying to make sense of my relationship failure, I began to reflect on the qualities I had loved in my early relationships. There were qualities I’d tried to emulate in this one, or that I’d purposefully copied from other guys. He wasn’t necessarily all those qualities, but they all felt like beginnings to me.

I needed to identify those qualities and recognize the good things I discovered. I needed to move on to find the ones I desired in the next love. These qualities may not have been his at all, but they were representative of traits I was cultivating in my relationships.

If he was challenging but impulsive, I knew I could handle my own dating unpredictability, but I needed to learn to control that risk. I’m not opposed to fantasy, but I like to have something concrete in mind before we get too far into the game.

Related: 5 Excuses for Falling Out of Love …

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