Going through a relationship break up is such a heart wrenching experience for so many people, and very often life changing. While each person may deal with it differently, most will go through the stages of grief to eventually come to some kind of acceptance or closure. The sad part is that very often this results in some long term decisions that aren’t always ideal for future relationships.

When we experience the kind of pain that breaking up causes, many of us want to shut down for a while.

It’s understandable, as our poor hearts might feel slightly battered. We seek the comfort of friends or family, while closing off to the possibility of future relationships. This time of commiseration is important for us to regain strength and to nurture ourselves. Taking the time to reflect what such an emotional event means in our lives is an important part of the healing process.

The problem is that during this time of reflection often the only aspect that we can control about the relationship and the ensuing pain is ourselves, our reactions and how we conduct future relationships.

We may find ourselves admonishing our behaviour or feelings during the relationship, often vowing never to behave in the same way again.

We dismiss many parts of who we were in that relationship, promising ourselves that if we get into a relationship again we will do something different.

While growth and learning from previous mistakes is an admirable quality, sometimes we get into a space of self protection. In order to ensure we never experience the same level of pain again, we promise ourselves that we won’t repeat certain behaviours ever again. Though often those behaviours are the exact ones which are required to create intimacy and connection.

So, in order to protect our fragile hearts, we negate many of the behaviours that contribute to creating a loving relationship in future.

As the old saying goes, “once bitten, twice shy”, we tend to become even more shut down to connecting so deeply with another person, believing falsely that this will offer us some control within the next relationship. So then we place constraints on future relationships, maybe with the offering of our time, vulnerability, openness or kindness. Anything we can think of to lessen the pain. We decide to paint all our relationships with the same brush of the last, most painful one.

What this negates is that there were two of us in the previous relationship. Any pain or hurt experienced wasn’t only our fault. So if we meet another person, who is completely different from the last, we believe that as long as we can control our own behaviour, then we can guarantee that there will be no more pain.

While there are no guarantees that the next person we become involved with won’t hurt us in the same way, we never get the chance to fully immerse ourselves into the other person.

We never allow ourselves to attain a level of deep and profound intimacy, even if the other person may never treat us in the same way we were treated before. Which is sad, not only for ourselves, but for any new person that wants to love us.

Before you make any major decisions about how you will be in future relationships, ask yourself if it is a reaction to the pain, or a considered reflection of your behaviour.

Opening up to someone new can be scary, but never allowing real connection is even scarier. Though heart break is incredibly painful, living a life of superficial connection is even more painful. Taking a risk, opening your heart and trying again, well, that is truly the bravest thing to do after a break up. It is important not to assume that everyone will hurt us in the same way. Doing that not only hurts ourselves, but hurts anyone who wants to love us deeply, especially the deepest wounds inside us.