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Did You Get Back In the Game Too Soon?

“Did you get back in the game too soon?” That’s the question I asked myself recently and will honestly admit that the answer is “Yes.” In my mind after a year of being separated and another year of being officially divorced and intentionally working through past hurts during those years, I thought I was ready to get back out there and try dating again. I was pleased with my growth and felt I was in a good place emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I intellectualized where I was and thought I could handle meeting someone new. But, when I finally told my counselor I had been seeing someone for the past few months and noticed the old habits and thoughts creeping in, he said to me, “I wish we would have had some more time to develop a healthy relationship framework and explore that before you got involved with someone.” Although I was anxious to get back out there and try again, I see now that I needed more time on the bench to let myself heal AND rebuild.

Where I am now in relationships reminds me of being on the injured reserve list in the NFL. This list refers to athletes who become injured and are temporarily unable to play. For some, the injury may be so severe that they are out for the rest of the season. For others, they may only be out for a few weeks. It takes approval from doctors, coaches, and the players themselves to determine if they are ready to get back in the game. However, if a player gets back in the game before fully allowing themselves to heal, they risk getting injured again and being out indefinitely.

I can imagine the players angst while sitting on the sidelines watching their teammates play a game they’re so passionate about. The adrenaline rush they felt while playing is now being suppressed as they are out on hold, waiting to heal. The most pressing question a player might ask during this time is, “Coach, when can I get back in?” He probably pleads the case that he’s ready after seeing progress with his injury, while neglecting the fact that making progress doesn’t automatically equate to being ready to play.

But just like the injured player, I too was growing tired of sitting on the sidelines watching other people date and enjoy their relationships. I wanted my chance and honestly felt like after all the hard work I had been doing on myself, I deserved to be in a healthy relationship now. I thought that being a Relationship Coach meant I had to be in a healthy relationship myself. Therefore, I didn’t want to believe or accept that there was still more work for me to do before getting back in the game. I’m now present to what my counselor told me months ago, “Your job is not to be an expert of the process. Your job is to model the process.” With that understanding, I’m grateful for everything that I’m personally learning about relationships that will help me relate to and best serve my clients.

So what are the dangers of getting back in the relationship game too soon?

1. You may experience more hurt from getting involved with someone who is unhealthy for you.

2. You may compromise your boundaries and values from being so eager to play.

3. You may be making decisions that are counterproductive to the progress you’ve made, which creates conflict within yourself.

4. You may be expending precious time and energy on this unhealthy relationship, that steals from your creativity and productivity in other areas of life.

These are just a few things that may stem from you moving too fast, but I’m sure you could add more. All of these may lead to prolonged time on the bench, which could have been avoided by choosing to wait. So what’s the remedy? It’s simple: GIVE YOURSELF TIME. When you’re healing from a past relationship and start to feel impatient, frustrated, and anxious, reach out to someone to help you process those emotions. The presence of those feelings is not an indicator that you need to react by getting with someone new. Resist the temptation to act impulsively because it will only be putting a bandage on a deeper issue. Seek clearance from more than just yourself. Pray and ask God for clarity before moving forward. Also, consult a Relationship Coach or therapist to get professional support in distinguishing the best time for you to get back in the game. In the meantime, focus on enjoying the other areas of your life. The lasting rewards of allowing yourself time to heal, far exceeds the temporary satisfaction of acting on your impulses. So I admonish you to just wait.

~Shavon Carter, The YOU Relationship Coach

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