Dating after going through abuse in your relationship, can be overwhelming, and intimidating. You will feel pessimistic and scared all the time that the same thing will happen to you over and over again, and you will never have a normal, and healthy relationship with someone.
One of the scariest things for me, after leaving an abusive relationship, was dating again.
I knew my track record in love was bad. After all, my ex-had almost killed me!
I’d ignored all the warning signs when I met him. I only saw what I wanted to see and denied the rest.
Look how that turned out!
So, I didn’t have huge faith in my instincts or my judgment. Dating after abuse, for me, was daunting.
But I was successful in love after that. I remarried. I am still with this gorgeous man now.
He brings out the best in me and I in him. And I am certain we are going to grow old together.
So, how did I not fall into the same trap?
How did I not go head first into the next abusive relationship? Like many people who’ve suffered abuse do.
First, I knew I had to look deep into why my self-esteem was so low.
To understand why not all my emotional needs were met as a child. And to learn how to fill that void of vulnerability.
To nurture my inner child. Only once I built my self-esteem would I attract a man who would treat me as worthy.
The second thing was a revelation to me. I want to share this as I know there are many others for whom this might help.
Dating after abuse
I’m engaging with many victims and survivors of domestic abuse online. Many are dating after abuse and are like I once was, terrified of doing so.
Or, in the early stages of a new relationship. They’re unsure if they can trust their judgment and are scared of another abusive relationship.
I know the feeling.
One woman started dating after abuse and posted some text messages from a guy she has recently met online.
In them, he calls her his ‘baby girl’ and his ‘princess’.
She feared, as she hardly knew him, that this might be a red flag.
Yes! Without question. This is a warning flag with bells on. Why? Because she hasn’t even met the guy yet!
Love-bombing is a typical narcissistic trait. They smother you with attention at first. Tell you that you’re the only one for them.
They promise you a wonderful life of marriage, babies and growing old together. All within weeks of the meeting.
When we are lacking self-esteem and feel vulnerable, this is music to our ears. This fills that hole we feel inside.
Narcissists spot our insecurities and are experts at soothing them with words they know we want to hear.
My vulnerability was feeling not good enough. Unlovable.
So, he told me I was the love of his life. Better than anyone who had come before. The one he needed.
It sucked me straight in.
Once we’re drawn in deep enough, another side appears.
Now they need to bring us down a peg or two. They tell us:
You’re ugly, stupid. No-one else would want you
That we’re spoilt brats, sluts or bitches. Or we’re having affairs they’ve imagined in their heads.
They show you who they are
My ex-revealed his true self early on with his actions. He showed me warning signs.
Whilst he told me he loved me one minute, he’d erupt in anger and disappear for days the next.
He’d suggest I wear different clothes, or that he didn’t like my friends. Get jealous if I even looked at another guy. But, I made excuses for his behavior.
That’s because I was projecting onto him who I hoped and wanted him to be. Rather than seeing him for who he was.
The man he was revealing to me, but whom I was choosing to be blind to.
I was seeing only the things that confirmed my dream of a wonderful life with him. Denying those that were screaming at me that this relationship was no good for me.
I have a lot of mantras that I swear and live by. (I’ve created a whole new category for them on here).
Dating after a narcissist
If you’re dating after abuse, then this is the one you need:
Watch not what they say, but what they do.
Love is a verb, not a noun. You show someone you love them by treating them as loveable. By treating them with respect.
And another mantra:
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Going back to those text messages. If we do watch what this person is saying here. Listen to his language.