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The first step you need to master before dropping back into the dating world is, appropriately so, the most important one of all. The first rule is to make sure all your wounds are healed before loving another. Before you can love someone else you must love yourself entirely. Until you cleanse yourself of past relationships, and the baggage that accompanied them, you can’t possibly enter into a new relationship as your whole, healthy self. If you enter the dating jungle as weak, damaged goods, you will attract the wrong type of person—the type of person that likes to take advantage of the weak to constantly keep under their control.
It takes two whole people to form a healthy, equal relationship. You know the saying “they are my other half”? Well you can’t fill out your half-portion completely unless you are whole. The only way to become a whole person is by healing the parts of you that have been chipped away by negative emotions and experiences throughout your life. Hurt, anger, sadness—all of these emotions take a toll on us. Ignoring these wounds is the worst choice you can make in your efforts to live a happy and fulfilling life; suppressing these emotions will only bring further struggles. They must be faced head on so we can overcome them, learn from them and (hopefully) never have to deal with them again. This doesn’t just mean the wounds from your last break up—it means all the wounds from your entire lifetime. (Yes, that means even the ones your family has caused!).
You may think that you are a happy, healthy person– and hopefully that is true! But everyone experiences events in our relationships, whether it be with friends, family members or lovers, that affect us in subconscious ways. It is only when we consciously make an effort to go back to these turning points in our lives, to revisit the emotions and hurt we felt during these relationships, are we able to recognize patterns, forgive others as well as ourselves, and heal enough to be able to see from a clean and clear perspective.
You do not need to have a picture perfect past to enter a committed relationship. But it is essential to learn how certain experiences have affected the person you are today and to retrieve and deal with any buried hurt. There is no set time frame for how long this step takes; it is different for every person. The important part is to begin as soon as possible.