Grief and It’s Impact on Relationship Selection
BY: Sandra L. Brown, M.A.
Author of: How to Spot
a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved
Grief can have devastating effects on the type of person you choose
for a relationship while you are still actively grieving the loss of
a previous relationship. Many people do not realize they are grieving
when a relationship ends which actually places them at-risk of choosing
dangerously while being impaired by their grief.
Some people assume that grief is related only if your partner has recently
died and if you are currently still saddened by the loss. But actually
grieving occurs when any relationship ends—whether it is anticipated,
desired, prepared for, or not. The longer the relationship existed,
the longer the grief normally takes.
Persons are often distressed to learn that there should be a ‘time
out’ from dating or future relationships when one relationship
has ended. The rule of thumb is 6 months time-out for every 5 years
of relationship. So if you were with someone (married or not) for 10
years that would suggest you take 1 year off from being in a relationship
or dating. I get horrified reactions to that because most people think
‘just get your self back out there. The best way to get over someone
is with someone else.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many of my clients ended up in counseling with me because they did
exactly that. While still grieving from a previous relationship, they
hooked up and made some bad choices in the selection of their next relationship
which caused them even more problems and pain. When you are coming out
of a relationship, you are in pain even if you aren’t acknowledging
it, even if you wanted out of the relationship, even if you had planned
for the ending of it. When we are in pain, we are not in our best decision-making
mind. When issues of the previous relationship are not resolved, many
people go on to choose someone just like the person in the relationship
they ended. Subconsciously they are trying to work out those relationship
issues—but with a new person, instead of the one they just left.
Drastically, many people jump from one relationship to the next to
avoid being alone. Alone does not necessarily have to mean = loneliness.
But in these cases, people don’t really care about the quality
of the next relationship they only desire to avoid themselves and the
feelings of the lost relationship. These are issues for the person to
work out with a professional because people who cannot be alone are
at a significant risk of choosing anyone to avoid being alone.
The baggage we carry from the last relationship has the ability to impact
current and future relationships. Ideally, none of us want to hurt new
relationships with our old relationship issues that are unresolved.
That’s why time off from relationships help us get some distance
where we can assess the good and bad things of the relationship, our
part in it, the types of people who we tend to select and whether we
need to make some changes. These insights do not happen overnight or
even within a few weeks. That is why following the formula listed above
protects you from your own impaired relationship choices. Sometimes
it allows enough time that you see you might need a few counseling sessions
to work out your anger, fear, or look deeper at your relationship selection
The longer we wait and the more we work on ourselves in-between relationships
the better chances we have of bringing a more healthy self to the next
relationship and being able to spot potential bad dating choices.
Sandra L. Brown, M.A. is an author and psychotherapist who worked
for the past 20 years with both female victims of violence and male
perpetrators. Her interest of practice has been in the attraction between
victim and perpetrator. Get
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