Starting a new relationship is an exciting time. Research overwhelmingly shows that good relationships are fundamental to better health – from your immune system to your mental well-being.
If you are hoping to start a new relationship or are in the early stages of one, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before diving in headfirst.
When is the right time to start a new relationship?
A new relationship shouldn’t begin until you have fully come to terms with the end of your previous one. Grieving a relationship takes time, especially if it didn’t end on your terms.
Before jumping into another romantic partnership, you should be emotionally free from your last relationship so you can commit wholly to the new person. If thoughts of your ex-partner illicit a strong emotional response, you might not be ready to move on.
You should also consider if you are starting a new relationship for the right reasons. Relationship breakdowns can be a huge blow to a person’s self-esteem and jumping into a new one is often a quick emotional fix. It is also tempting to use another relationship to cover uncomfortable feelings that come with adjusting to single life, like loneliness.
It’s also wis wise not to venture into a new relationship if you haven’t fully processed and understood the reasons behind the breakdown of any past romances. Taking full accountability of the role you may have played will help avoid the same mistakes and give your new partnership a fighting chance.
Always listen to any doubts you may have. Talking to a counsellor might help you resolve some of the past issues that are still affecting you. And if necessary, wait a little longer.
What do I want from a new relationship?
What you want from a relationship depends on your unique situation and desires. Relationships come in all shapes and sizes and are not all a path to marriage and a white picket fence – according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies marriage rates are declining whilst cohabiting relationships are on the rise. People at different life stages have very different needs and understanding and communicating your wants will help avoid future hurt.
Before starting a new relationship ask yourself what it is you need and want – a long‐term commitment or marriage? Casual sex? A friendship or companion? Or are you open to seeing what happens?
How will I know this new relationship will work out?
The start of a new relationship often brings questions surrounding longevity and compatibility. Considering data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals that the average Australian marriage lasts roughly 12 years, these questions aren’t unfounded. Nobody has a crystal ball, so it is impossible to know how a new relationship will work out. However, there are a few key indicators to whether your relationship can go the distance.
Communication and constructive conversations are the cornerstones of a healthy relationship. They may not come naturally in the early stages of a romance, but they are skills you can build together. Effective communication is possible if you are both willing to work towards it and lay the foundations early.
New relationships should be built on respect, which must go both ways. Ask yourself if you feel respected by your new partner, and if you feel you can treat them with respect and dignity in return. A respectful relationship involves open communication, clear boundaries, honesty, trust and valuing each other’s opinions, wants and needs.
If you ever feel unsafe physically when starting a new relationship, then you should seek support immediately and reconsider the partnership. Become familiar with the common red flags of abuse to protect yourself from further issues down the road. Common abusive behaviours include jealousy, possessiveness and isolation from loved ones.
Remember: finding and keeping new relationships requires effort
Many of us have unrealistic expectations surrounding relationships – we picture love at first sight and soul mates. We tend to believe that if the ‘spark’ is there, then a healthy partnership will naturally follow, when in reality relationships often bring uncomfortable conversations, awkward moments and require effort to find and maintain.
You may get lucky and meet someone through work, friends or with a shared interest, but sometimes the dating pool may seem a little sparse. If you are ready for a new relationship and struggling to find a spark, you may have to think creatively – asks friends, try online dating, or start a new hobby.
Just remember, however the relationship arises, and whatever form it takes, you will both need to invest time and energy for it to flourish.