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Wellness

How to Find Love After Domestic Violence

The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Finding love after abuse is one of the most challenging things to do. No matter the length of time you were subject to domestic violence or abuse, the feelings of trauma and fear can stick with you for years to come. It’s especially difficult to try to trust a romantic partner again, which is why some people opt to stay single after their domestic violence relationship.

If you still believe in love and are determined to find a way to stay mentally healthy in a relationship, this is the article for you. Read on to learn about eight ways to get ready to love again after abuse.

Be Picky and Cautious

The most important thing you’re going to want to remember is to be picky and cautious about who you date. If you’re going on dates with some random people online, you’ll want to make sure you’re “screening” them before you go.

If someone has even the most minor behavioral pattern that seems like a red flag, it probably is. Some common red flags to look for in people you’re just meeting include:

  • They want to take things too fast
  • They say “I love you” quickly
  • They get distraught or enraged when you have to cancel
  • They expect you to talk to them 24/7
  • They talk of getting married or having children right away
  • They speak poorly of all of their exes
  • They want to know everything about you before you’ve met
  • They expect to be dating already before you’ve had several dates
  • They make jokes that you find inappropriate
  • They treat waitstaff and customer service workers poorly
  • They don’t say “thank you” or “please” or “you’re welcome.”
  • They don’t have a concrete view of their future or career life
  • They are overly loving and intense from the start
  • They seem like your “perfect person” and seem to only bring up the ways they are compatible with you

Everyone sees red flags in different things, but these are some of the most common that can indicate you’re getting into a relationship with the wrong person. No matter how beautiful or funny or kind a person is, if you feel a little “off” or unsafe, it’s time to end the relationship. There are millions more people in the world.

Test Your Dates

In conjunction with the last point, it’s a good idea to “test” your dates before meeting them. Some people will become highly abusive and unkind if they feel that they are rejected. Knowing whether someone can handle rejection is an excellent way to see if you’re safe.

Before your first date, cancel the date. Let your date know you’re not feeling well or that you’d like to reschedule. See what their reaction is. If they’re understanding and kind and their personality doesn’t change, this is a good sign.

If they become angry or start crying or calling you names, block them and run.

Go to Therapy

Before dating again, you’ll want to heal at least some of the trauma from your past relationship. A trauma therapist can help you with that.

Trauma therapy allows you to process the trauma of your abuse in a safe environment. You don’t have to talk through it if you don’t want to. Some trauma therapists even offer spiritual healing options, which require no “re-telling” of the events that traumatized you.

Some of the most helpful therapies for people with relationship trauma include:

  • EMDR
  • Attachment-based therapy
  • Family systems trauma therapy
  • Trauma talk therapy

It’s up to you to find the one that helps you. However, therapy is widely available these days, and you can even find an online therapist to chat to if you don’t want to meet someone face to face.

Take It Slow

Since abusive relationships are known to start quickly and escalate quickly, it’s essential to find people willing to take things slow with you. There’s no timeline on what this should look like. If you feel comfortable going on ten dates before making something official, do it.

Remember that if someone is not willing to accept your timeline for dating, they’re not worth your time. Not respecting a boundary is a huge red flag. That leads us to our next point.

Determine Your Boundaries

Setting boundaries is complicated for those not used to having them accepted. Before you date, determine what you will and won’t receive from people. If you feel more comfortable only going out to eat for a few hours and then going home alone, let them know that. If they get angry, stop talking to them.

Determine Your Dealbreakers

Everyone has dealbreakers in a relationship. You’ll want to make sure you understand yours and live by them. Even if someone seems perfect in every other way, they’re not the person for you if they hit one of your dealbreakers.

Some typical relationship dealbreakers can include:

  • Not dating someone with different political beliefs than you
  • Not dating someone who swears near children
  • Not dating someone who is intensely tied to social media
  • Not dating someone who doesn’t have friends
  • Not dating someone who is mean to waiters
  • Not dating someone who tries to control how you dress

Sometimes dealbreakers can come up later in a relationship, so it’s a good idea to take things slow.

Protect Yourself

Even though our goal in dating is to find the perfect person who will respect and love us, that’s often hard to find at first. You’re going to want to protect yourself from future abusive relationships.

Unfortunately, those who have gone through abuse in childhood and adulthood often are drawn to other abusive people. It’s not your fault, though. Abusive people are drawn to people who are not healed in their trauma and do not have firm boundaries.

Those who have firm boundaries can cut off an abusive relationship before it begins, which is the difference. If you’re able to protect yourself by following these tips, you’ll find someone who treats you very kindly.

Make Sure You’re Healed Enough

Overall, it’s not a good idea to try dating until you’re ready. If you still feel like you’re having flashbacks often or feel unsafe most of the time, a relationship may not be the thing for you.

If you want to learn more about domestic violence and healing, check out BetterHelp. As one of the most extensive mental health education and online therapy databases, they’ve got tons of resources that can help you out.

If you’re still in an abusive or domestic violence situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They can help.

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