When a relationship ends, we’re often left wondering if we’ll ever be with another partner. Are we ready to face possible dating rejection? If we meet the right one, are we ready to enter a new relationship? How can we trust ourselves to select the right guy and how do we trust that the guy will have our best interests at heart?
Healing from a relationship takes time and for most of us, probably a few nights crying into a glass of wine or pint of Ben & Jerry’s before we jump back in to the relationship pool. But Dr. Stan Tatkin, PsyD., author of Wired for Love, How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Diffuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship, suggests women need to jump back in after allowing space to grieve.” We need to take enough time to heal and rediscover ourselves. When we lose someone, we lose a piece of ourselves,” says Dr. Tatkin.
“Lots of women wait but there’s no way to heal without being in a relationship. This isn’t something you can learn in a book,” shares the couples’ therapist. You need to learn by trial and error. Evaluate what went wrong (and right) in the past relationship to figure out what you need and want, as well as how you’d like to interact. Communication is essential.
How do we know how to build a healthy relationship this time around? The relationship model supported by Dr. Tatkin involves creating a secure “couple bubble” where each partner does what it takes to support one another and the unit, as well as sharing everything, including feelings and fantasies to that colleague who flirted in the office. By serving the unit or couple, each partner will get his or her needs met. The two partners are each other’s most important person. That may mean helping a socially anxious partner through a work party. Dr. Tatkin also advises couples how to fight fairly so nobody loses.
How can we go from a dysfunctional marriage or infidelity to trusting ourselves and a new partner?
Can we trust ourselves to pick the right partner? Dr. Tatkin suggests vetting a potential partner with your friends and family. “Ask for their feedback. Do we look like we fit?” The brain loves novelty but prefers familiarity within the pair bond. It’s easy to withdraw because we think we can’t do better or we aren’t worth it. Dr. Tatkin says although our brain loves novelty, we are drawn to familiarity. We want to be with someone who understands us.
According to Dr. Tatkin, the happiness and comfort we get from taking each other’s burdens, fears, and concerns will free us to form a secure and functioning relationship. “Thankfully, relationships aren’t like baseball where it’s three strikes and you’re out. The universe keeps pitching us new opportunities to redo, repair, and reinvent ourselves with another person,” he says.
Dr. Tatkin and his wife Tracey Boldemann-Tatkin are founders of the PACT Institute. PACT developed from the integration of cutting edge research in three areas, neuroscience, the study of the human brain; attachment theory; and the biology of human arousal. Dr. Tatkin says by understanding how the brain works, we can understand how people act and react within a relationship. Some parts of our brain are wired to reduce threat and danger, seeking security, while others are geared to establish loving connections and mutality. Attachment theory explains our biological need to bond with others, impacted by our earliest relationship with caregivers. Insecurities carried through life can cause problems with adult relationships. The biology of human arousal deals with one’s ability to manage energy, alertness, and readiness to engage.