How to Finally Break Free of Toxic Dating Patterns
I recently interviewed Cindy Holbrook, a certified divorce coach, supporting women as they traverse the emotional roller-coaster of divorce to heal. She helps them let go of the past and rebuild their life with less stress, more clarity and confidence about their future.
Cindy has been the guest of many telesummits and radio shows including Huffington Post Live. Her articles have been published on eHarmony, Huffington Post, Fox Magazine and MSN. She created CoachingForDivorcedWomen.com, a website filled with tips and techniques to educate and empower women as they make the transition to being a single woman and re-entering the dating field. Following are loosely transcribed highlights of our radio interview on Last First Date Radio, where Cindy talked about how to finally break free of toxic dating patterns.
What is the #1 mistake a divorced person makes when they begin dating again?
They date for the wrong reasons. So many women believe their value lies in having a man love them. They rush out again to find love. They don’t take the time to grieve the end of their past relationship. Even if she initiated the divorce, it’s important to grieve the lost hopes and dreams she had for the future.
How long does it take to grieve the loss of your marriage?
Some people take a few months and some never get over it. My aunt June died at 93, and the last conversation I had with her, she told me she was happy she made her ex husband pay for what he did for the rest of his life. She never moved on. People can get stuck either in anger or depression. She was stuck in anger. When you’re married, you might give away pieces of yourself with the intention of helping the relationship. When I was married I always bought blue cheese dressing because it was his favorite. I gave up what I liked – ranch dressing. I had a client who dreamed of being an opera singer. Her husband said it was fine for a hobby but not a career. She thought that was the right thing for her marriage. She literally cut off her voice. It killed her emotionally because she let go of her passion. I helped her find her voice again!
Can you share with us your thoughts about what it looks like when someone is ready to enter into a healthy, loving relationship?
Know what you do and don’t want. Set your boundaries. Teach them how to treat you. Know your worth.
How do you identify that you’re in a toxic relationship pattern – dating the same person with a different face?
Look at what you’re accepting in a relationship. I have a client who started dating a man who right away showed signs that he was controlling, just like her ex husband. Are you setting clear boundaries or giving out messages that he can treat you terribly? Write a one or two page profile of your ideal person. Write it in story format. Give the person a name. For example, “Whenever X and I go out to eat, we do _______. She eats _______. I support her goals to do _________. We enjoy time together and apart.” Read this story to yourself every day. The feelings in your story will emit positive energy out into the universe to help you notice who the right person is. You’ll find whatever you’re focused on.
When setting boundaries, make position statements. These are statements you prepare in advance that help you stand up for what you believe to be true for you. “My feelings make sense to me even if they don’t work for you.” “I prefer that you don’t judge me.” “I’m perfectly capable of making my own decisions.”
Give us three tips that will help us avoid finding the same man/woman, with a different face?
Love yourself enough that you respect yourself. Change your habits – your habitual relationship patterns (like thinking it’s okay for him to call you stupid even if it’s in a joke). Set your boundaries, have your position statements ready so you know what to say if something comes up. Write down what you want, what you don’t want, and write a positive story so you can continue to read it.
For more important tips on breaking free of toxic dating patterns, click here.